Office Depot's Janet Schijns: Innovation Is About the Business Model, Not Product

Office Depot is in the process of completely transforming its business model.

Buffy Naylor, Senior Managing Editor

April 19, 2018

2 Min Read
Janet Schijns CP Expo 2018

What do companies like Tesla, Keurig, Uber and Netflix have in common? While they might be known for their innovative products, the real innovation has been in their business models.

As Janet Schijns, executive vice president and chief merchant & services officer for Office Depot (booth #2019 and a Premier Sponsor) explained in her keynote Wednesday at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, innovative products are the result of innovative processes.

“Innovation is hard work,” Schijns said. And it’s ongoing, she explained, citing the example of Netflix, which first disrupted the video (later DVD) rental business with its mail delivery and no-late-fee model, then moved to streaming video and now even creates its own content.

And fueling Netflix’s innovation was digital transformation. A new and better way of doing something that was already being done.

“Digital transformation is more than a buzzword,” said Schijns. “It’s a way of doing business. It’s how people are transforming. It’s what people are doing.”

Office Depot itself is undergoing a massive transformation. Under the direction of CEO Gerry Smith, who came to the company from Lenovo Group last year, Office Depot is moving from a commodities company to a services platform company.

“Technology is the office supply of the future,” said Schijns, who left her position as vice president of global channels and vice president of business markets for Verizon to join Office Depot. She was one of several executives who were brought on board because they understand technology and how to make it work.

Office Depot also acquired CompuCom to provide businesses with the technology services they need.

In tandem with these changes, according to Schijns, Office Depot is moving from a 100 percent direct to a “highly indirect” sales model. Throughout the myriad changes that have taken place in digital services over the past several years, businesses have continued to rely on channel partners to help them navigate the changing landscape of providers, services and delivery systems to find the best solutions for their companies.

“Your customers trust you,” Schijns said.

With 1,400 locations, Office Depot has market reach. The 6,000 payrolled technicians of CompuCom provide full technology solutions that businesses need. And channel partners have the relationships to deliver support to the millions of SMBs and enterprises across the U.S. undergoing technology transformation.

Schijns concluded by inviting channel partners to team with Office Depot and become the single-source solution for their customers.

“By embracing our business model, I hope that you’ll help us grow the channel and grow your bottom line,” she said. “Come work with us and help your business customers survive and thrive in today’s environment.”

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About the Author(s)

Buffy Naylor

Senior Managing Editor, Channel Futures

Buffy Naylor is senior managing editor of Channel Futures. Prior to joining Informa (then VIRGO) in 2008, she was an award-winning copywriter and editor, then senior manager of corporate communications for an international leisure travel corporation and, before that, in charge of creative development and copywriting for a boutique marketing and public relations agency.

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