HP linking printers with cost reduction message

Officials at Hewelett-Packard Co.’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) say they plan to focus their enterprise efforts on cost reduction.

This was part of the message Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice-president of HP’s IPG, communicated to attendees during his keynote at the vendor’s imaging and printing conference, held earlier this month in Carlsbad, Calif.

Businesses face a “tremendous pressure with respect to cost,” Joshi told the audience. “Let us help you understand where our devices fit into your business process.” The goal of IPG, he added, is to help its business customers “bring down costs and help knowledge workers be more productive.”

Joshi later said HP’s focus in Canada, from an IPG standpoint, will be “end-to-end business management,” paying attention to both the consumer and enterprise side. With its range of products, from personal to desktop and workgroup, the firm is “trying to be clear about what value proposition we can provide to the customer” – one that’s different from what competitors Xerox Corp., Canon Inc. and Ricoh Company Ltd. have to offer, Joshi said.

Rather than selling big, new devices, “our view is to do an assessment based on what the customer needs, rather than just tell them what they need,” he added.

Earlier this month, Xerox announced a series of cost-cutting initiatives designed to spark renewed interest in its suite of office equipment, from printers to copiers.

Jean-Jacques Lang, corporate purchasing director for Paris-based Alcatel, said his firm initiated its printing and copying service solution (PRICOSS) project with HP roughly two years ago, partially because the company was “engaging in a heavy cost-reduction program,” but also because its long-term copier contract was a year away from expiration.

Alcatel had a very good idea about copy costs, but was “less at ease with printing costs,” partially because different departments were responsible for keeping track of copying and printing device acquisitions and costs. In addition, Alcatel had 35 different device brands and hundreds of different printer and copier models deployed throughout its various offices. “You can imagine the work for the maintenance people,” Lang said.

Alcatel decided that it wanted a flexible, comprehensive service solution. “We wanted to move from a product solution to a full print/copy service solution – we wanted a partner that would be a service provider and specialist,” not just a supplier, Lang added.

Now in the third phase – the deployment of HP solutions in more than 100 sites – Alcatel has seen more than a 30 per cent cost reduction, according to Lang. In replacing its infrastructure in Europe, it has brought its device count down from 12,000 to 5,000.

Minneapolis-based American Express had its own device devils to deal with, according to the travel, financial and network services company’s senior systems integration manager, Ron Mielke. With 6,000 employees working in downtown Minneapolis, and 16,000 users across North America and beyond, the firm had a huge IT infrastructure and was facing a major problem: it had to migrate off of 150 Novell print servers within a very tight 45-day deadline. The IT department was also receiving 30 to 40 print-related help desk calls per day because of inconsistencies in printing device set-up.

HP had the solution: printers with embedded Web servers. After buying several hundred HP network cards, Amex was ready to try out the print server appliance (PSA), which, with its simplicity and remote manageability, was ideal for an organization with 250 sites and no local support staff, said Mielke. The PSAs were up and running in 20 minutes, and when plugged into the network, “can be controlled from the central office.”

The success rate was “mind-boggling,” and the cost reduction “huge,” said Mielke. In the first two days after implementation, help desk calls dropped to fewer than 20 per day – that number is now down to fewer than two per day. Amex now spends “a fraction of the time managing printing and a fraction of server support costs,” Mielke said.