Archive: October 1997 — the wired university

In 1997, Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., started a trend that persists today of equipping students with laptops.

For an extra $1,200 in tuition, Acadia students were provided IBM Thinkpad

notebook. The program also meant that classrooms and residences were wired up to handle the technology.

“”I would venture to say for the first time in the history of any university in Canada, every student has equal access to information,”” said Acadia director of public affairs Bruce Cohoon.

When asked to comment on the project, a York University spokesman said that the laptop program may actually have the opposite effect by making computer purchase mandatory.

But in each year since 1997, more Canadian universities and colleges have been investing in IT infrastructure to make all campus areas network and Internet accessible. Acadia initially used an NT LAN, but today the technology of choice is wireless. Just last month, Concordia University opened an $85-million science facility that will take advantage of wireless.

Xerox Corp. scanned the market in 1997 and decided it was time for a fresh approach.

The fledgling Channels Group at Xerox admitted it had given resellers short shrift and promised to embrace an indirect approach. “”We have had to completely reengineer our business process from a direct sales model to indirect,”” said worldwide group president Pierre Danon.

Direct still worked for big-ticket items, but lower-end printers were best served by being sold through the channel, said then-CEO Rick Thoman. The company hadn’t done its channel partners any favours by making cuts to advertising budgets, he added. Xerox said it would provide those partners with a voice in company policy through the Channels Group and adopted the slogan “”company within a company.””

In 2003, Xerox was faced with a different but not unrelated problem: product pricing. CEO Ann Mulcahy said recently, “”There is no place for cookie cutter solutions. In the past, when Xerox lost to competition, we lost on price, not capability. Now we’re positioned to win on both.””

The company’s latest attempt at salvation included more aggressive pricing, a clearer vision of online selling and pushing more multi-function devices through the channel.

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