HP completes A3 product portfolio for Office of the Future, deepens partner services play

Part of the expanded services play is a new certification program to train HP print partners how to better sell security related solutions, and understand and recommend third party security integrations.

Stephan Schmitt, Head of Product Management for Office Printing Solutions, HP

LAS VEGAS – At the HP Executive Forum here last week, HP outlined its strategy around its A3 and A4 enterprise printers to partners. They announced product enhancements which they say now fully round out the A3 portfolio. They also emphasized to partners their move towards a services-led sales motion from a transactional one, and the integration of partners into this transition.

“This event was a major one as far as presenting our strategy for the Office of the Future,” said Stephan Schmitt, Head of Product Management for Office Printing Solutions, who manages HP’s worldwide product strategy across the portfolio. “One of our three key pillars is that we want to continue to be a major player in the A4 space and aggressively take share in A3. We addressed that here with the announcement that we have completed the A3 portfolio on the product side with the addition of external page finishing capabilities. The A3 line now has the full capabilities one expects with all paper handling and paper finishing capabilities, and allows us to fully leverage the placement of A3 devices.”

External finishing is the industry term for the devices externally attached to the printers which provide tasks like stapling, hole finishing and paper handling for large multiple print jobs.

“The external paper finishing allows us to handle those kind of print volumes much more efficiency,” Schmitt said. “We had these kits previously for our laser devices, but not for PageWide. We consider that this caused us to miss out on between 10 and 15 per cent of the total opportunity. That has now been addressed with the A3 kits, and we can now satisfy all placements.”

The second pillar of the Office of the Future strategy is transitioning to a service-led sales motion from a transactional one.

“We embarked on this journey quite a few years ago, first building a strong position here on the direct sales side, and then aggressively leading into a partner play,” Schmitt said. “We have identified about 600 partners worldwide who have the reach and qualification to drive an aggressive services play. We have onboarded them, aligned our business plans with them, and are in tight relationships with them.”

To show partners the progression of this strategy, HP highlighted the extension of their partnership with ImageNet Consulting, a document management solutions provider with sixteen officers across the U.S. who have a strong partnership, with plenty of professional services, across  HP’s imaging and printing, supplies, managed print services,  graphics printing, and 3D printing businesses.

“Last fall there were concerns how this services strategy would roll out in the field,” Schmitt said. “We are showing and highlighting partners like ImageNet who have adopted our portfolio.”

HP highlighted that in A3 printing, using HP’s Smart Device Services remote management, ImageNet was able to lower their service costs more than 15 per cent, enabling net-new business wins and upgrades.

“Their service efficiency increased by 15 per cent even through they only adopted parts of our service capability in their practice,” Schmitt said. “There was some partner skepticism that the labour savings would deliver as we said, but this confirms the effectiveness of our strategy.”

The third pillar of the strategy is the focus on security solutions. At Executive Forum, HP announced it was extending this with enhanced integrations into the Microsoft SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) and McAfee’s ESM (Enterprise Security Manager) SIEM.

“We have the most secure printers on the planet, and now we are the first company to integrate both Microsoft and McAfee security tools into our managed printed services,” said Enrique Lores, HP’s President of Imaging and Printing. “That will help us have the most secure printers on the planet.”

“Last year, we announced further hardening of devices, and we are we now very aggressively expanding our security ecosystem,” Schmitt said.  “Many mid-size companies who don’t have IT specializations around print use standard tools like Microsoft and McAfee, so with our strategy, we are strongly integrating them with our partner ecosystem. We as a print vendor are becoming a standard part of these security tools. Expanding the ecosystem play makes these tools available to a much broader customer base, and assists channel partners with a security practice.”

Schmitt said that print partners with a security practice will also be helped by a new endpoint security sales and technical certification training announced at the event, which will be available in May.

“Many of our partners want to expand services, and are moving into areas like Device-as-a-Service, security and mobility,” he said. “On the security side, their concern has been that they did not have the insight and competence to talk print security specifically to their accounts. They could easily establish how HP differentiates, but were concerned they did not understand what they need to do around security from HP. They wanted more competency there, and this was a request that we had from them last year. So we are rolling out partner training, a certified program, where we train them on security elements, and pre- and post-sale activities so they can competently approach customers around issues like which SIEM tools to use. We have similar strategies on the DaaS and device side, and it is all part of the services expansion.”

HP also announced a new HP Accessibility Assistant, with improved standards of voice command and screen reader support for workers with disabilities. It is planned to be available this Spring on a wide selection of A3/A4 HP Enterprise-class devices through a firmware update to Future Smart 4.

“This voice initiative is part of a broader strategy that includes both home and office printing businesses,” Schmitt said. “The accessibility market is a billion dollars worldwide. It’s not a niche market. It will primarily be targeted at the public sector, but we also be going after the private sector.”

HP also announced existing HP Voice printer compatibility in the U.S. with all three major smart speaker platforms – Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana – is being expanded to additional countries, including Canada, the U.K.. Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and India.

“These used to have issues with accents, but they have been much improved,” Lores said onstage during a keynote at the event. He then proceeded to do a demo where the HP Voice deliberately butchered Lores’ Spanish accent!

Lores also had the not-unpleasant task of recapping for partners the extraordinary turnaround HP has already made in their printing business since the split with HPE.

“Our first quarter of being independent, growth was down 20 per cent, supplies were down 14 per cent revenues were down 17 per cent and profit was down 25 per cent,” he said onstage. “I wondered why Dion [Weisler] didn’t fire me that first week. Now growth is up 14 per cent, supplies up 10 per cent, revenue up 14 per cent and profit up 12 per cent – because of our great partnership with everybody in this room.”