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HP ups the SMB ante

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CIOL Bureau
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Vinita Bhatia

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MUMBAI, INDIA: In its commercial product launch in the printing and imaging business division, Hewlett Packard (HP) rolled out 25 new printing solutions, including 10 printers at a media briefing in Shanghai recently. The products are aimed at the small and medium business (SMB) segment, a vertical that the vendor is focusing on very strongly in APAC.

The new additions include color printers and multi-function devices, which the company claimed, was optimized for producing professional-quality marketing materials, business collaterals and everyday docu­ments, quickly and affordably, in house.

Said Herbert Koeck, VP-Commercial Printing, Imaging and Printing Group, HP, APAC, "The launch builds upon our Print 2.0 strategy, which will allow our SMB customers to print when and how they want-in-house, at retail or through a print service provider." One of the introductions is the color laserjet CP1215 printer series, priced at $249, which is HP's lowest priced desktop color laser printer till date.

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HP also introduced a new system re-brand for its ink-based officejet line-up with printers and cartridges to offer low-cost per page business printing. Besides these, it announced new online tools and solutions like easy printer care software 2.5i which helps SMB customers who do not have a dedicated IT support team, to set-up, maintain and view the status of up to 15 printers on a network.

The Jetdirect 690n wireless network-printing server was also rolled out to offer upcoming enterprise customers to share several printers to be shared on a single network using an 802.11g wireless connection.

Not just printers

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The company is keen to dissociate the printer as a standalone device used merely for printing in the SMB segment. Instead, it is positioning these machines as a complete suite of solution, which includes hard­ware, supplies and services, which the vendor is valuing at $103 billion globally by 2010. The company is also betting its money on the in-house marketing opportunity, especially for the SMB, which it is estimating will be around $40 billion by 2010.

HP's latest products on display

To ensure that it has the highest recall in the SMB business segment, the company will invest $300 million into a global marketing campaign, which will target SMB and large customers. It has also enhanced its 'Office Printing Channel Program' (OPCP) and 'Solutions Business Partner Program' with an accreditation, certification and test program for its 64,000 world­wide channel network.

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Cruce Dahlgren, Senior VP-Global Enterprise Business, Imaging and Printing Group, HP said, "We have quadrupled the total contract value of HP managed print services, bolstered our Print 2.0 strategy with the recent acquisition of Exstream software and expanded our focus on imaging and printing solutions that help customers to optimize their infrastructure, manage their enterprise and improve workflows."

Worldwide, HP's IPG business in 2007 grew to $28.5 million in revenue terms, which was a six percent growth YoY. Globally, it shipped one million laserjet devices in 2008, while its Indian single function market grew from three lakh units in 2005 to over six lakh units last fiscal.

Training matters

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The printing business is growing and HP is elated about it. Having introduced over 25 printer solutions aimed at the growing small and medium business (SMB) market, the company is now working on empowering partners to take these to market, especially in the APAC region, where the SMB companies are spurring the growth.

Koeck said that in the Indian market, HP would work closely with its partners in the upcountry cities to enhance their technical skill sets. "We strongly believe that for a partner to do a good job of selling our products, he has to have the necessary compe­tencies in place. This year, we will put a lot of emphasis on reseller certification."

Keeping in mind the fact that it is the solution providing community that caters to most SMB customers, HP is also going to work with these partners to improve the capabilities in areas that are allied to printing. This would include offering services aligned to networking, security and storage, which can be aligned to setting up the printing network of the customer.

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HP has recently introduced the OPCP, which is an enhanced version of the erstwhile program for the value channel to make it more broad based. Partners registered under this program would have access to HP's entire imaging and printing portfolio. In addition to that, it will also extend to the hardware, service, solutions and supplies compo­nents so that more partners can be drawn under the program.

HP has also revitalized its Solutions Business Partner Program (SBP), where it works with other vendors whose solutions can be interoperated and integrated for addressing specific business challenges.

The vendor has also come out with specialized printing solutions for enterprises that can manage their output environ­ments and streamline their document workflow. The controlled cost printing allows these enterprises to manage, track and recover costs for printing usage through multiple types of billing. These range from pre-paid cards and debit applications for companies with low printer output to per-user charge accounts. When integra­ted with back-end proces­ses, this solution enables tracking and billing of user groups that can be broken down by individual need, user group size, department, or geographical locations.

With all these initiatives on its anvil, it is not surprising that HP is banking heavily on the solution providing community to entrench itself in the SMB market. This will enhance its existing channel network with more extensive training programs to achieve its business objectives in India.

The author was hosted in Shanghai with HP