HP wants to be at the intersection of services

In the new world of mobile commerce, services are the most important element to customers – not the underlying technology supporting them.

It was this idea that Hewlett-Packard Co. kept stressing at the opening of its HP Mobile e-Services Bazaar Canadian satellite office in Mississauga, Ont., earlier this month. The HP initiative, which currently has more than 400 members worldwide, was designed to act as a catalyst for the creation of mobile e-services by providing a collaborative environment for partners to incubate new strategies and offer personalized services to customers, according to Ann Livermore, president of Hewlett-Packard Services.

“The mobile era is the next revolution. There’s a lot of speculation on what makes mobility relevant. The power lies in its collective ability…to bring a whole ecosystem of partners together.” This means more than just moving the Internet to appliances – it means offering context-specific rich services, she said.

There are three elements crucial for success in this space, she said: electronic services, the ability to offer them to a variety of different appliances and a secure, robust infrastructure on which to run them. “HP’s strategy is to play at this intersection, in the middle of these three forces.”

Making this type of e-marketplace “really be real” will require a significant shift in how companies think about business models, she said. “To make this happen, we have to stop thinking about one element at a time.”

HP announced 38 new e-Services Bazaar members at the opening, including Nortel Networks, 3Com Corp. and Voice Genie. According to HP, the Bazaar -which also has offices in the U.S., the Netherlands, Finland, China, Thailand and Singapore – is a “living lab” focused on connecting application and technology providers, carriers, venture capitalists, systems integrators and customers in a collaborative B2B environment. Members can view and test new services, join special interest groups and gain access to information relevant to their businesses, the company said.

“It’s not a technology race anymore,” said Doug McCuaig, vice-president of e-business for Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in Toronto.

“A lot of people say [m-commerce will be] about 3G. But it’s not about 3G. People don’t care about the technology, they care about who are providing application services.”

McCuaig agreed with Livermore about the importance of partnerships in m-commerce. “We can’t live on voice and data alone. No one player has all the skills to win in this enterprise space. The winners…will be the ones who understand the value they are providing.”