Sept. 30--The Lexington Software & Firmware Development center at Lexmark is a quarter of a mile long and houses 400 employees.
It's full of sleek furniture and buffered by white noise so that it's library-quiet and employees there are divided into tiny groups and work together on highly defined short-term tasks.
The "scrum" process -- focused on short bursts of activity, quick turnaround and eliminating obstacles -- allows for rapid innovation.
It's emblematic of the new Lexmark -- a company poised to evolve rapidly across business challenges and geographic boundaries.
The posh software suite is miles away from the clacking of printers and ink cartridges that used to define Lexmark.
Now, much of Lexmark works within what its online video calls "the wide expanse of the unstructured" in fields worldwide such as banking, education, government, health care, insurance, manufacturing, retail and telecommunications.
While Lexmark is not exiting the printing business, the company is working to make sure that it is evolving to meet the challenges that businesses have as they manipulate data in a digital world. Think of it as less a selection of hardware than as a suite of available products and services.
Over the last few years, Lexmark has bought a handful of companies that expand its reach, not just worldwide, but across industries: The strategy shows that profits are not just in hardware, but in being in charge of strategies that drive hardware -- being in a business' nuts and bolts, its basic daily systems for organizing its business and keeping track of information. That information may exist in a form that doesn't need the standard print-and-file treatment, said Tim Rowland, vice president and general manager for retail and manufacturing at Lexmark.
For Lexmark, it's a matter of analyzing what a business needs and being able to provide it, quickly and precisely -- anything from forms for new employees to aisle display information for retail products.
"We are looking to provide all of these solutions worldwide," said Lexmark chief executive officer Paul Rooke. Whether the documents are in English, German or Chinese, Lexmark hopes to have a system in place to collect them, organize them and glean from them the data that customers need, according to Rowland.
"We listened to our customers and evolved the company accordingly," Rooke said.
Analyst Angele Boyd of IDC said that Lexmark's strategy has been cleverly executed.
"It's very smart, and not only smart, but they're delivering on the strategy by continuing to make the acquisitions that they have," she said. "I think the only challenge for them will be integrating the acquisitions, which they seem to be doing very well and quickly."
Lexmark's acquisitions give the company the opportunity to "cross-sell and upsell" its products to the customers of the companies already served by the Lexmark acquisitions, she said.