CUPERTINO, CALIF. – Hewelett-Packard Co.’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG) is ramping up its efforts to make its services offerings known to its customers.

Stephen Culhane, vice-president, solutions and services for IPG in Cupertino, Calif., told IT World Canada in an interview Thursday that services within the division have existed for about four or five years already, “but up until nine months ago, they were not well-known.” Following the HP-Compaq merger, it “became clear that services had to be mainstream within IPG,” Culhane said.

The IPG services organization started in June last year, yet only in the last two months has Culhane started going out to customers and getting the message out about services. “We sometimes have customers say, ‘I didn’t know that HP was into that,'” he said, adding that people within his division are planning campaigns to further customer education about the vendor’s overall services strategy.

Culhane said one of the IPG’s goals is to build services capabilities through consulting and integration, managed services and outsourcing, and break-fix services, in order to support some of IPG’s overall customer strategies. These include improving workflow and productivity; helping businesses become more efficient by enabling business-critical document management; and helping customers succeed in the marketing collateral space through new offerings in its commercial digital press line, which HP inherited after its acquisition of digital press vendor Indigo N.V. last year.

Many customers have no strategy surrounding their output infrastructure, said Culhane. A few of them, however, are able to recognize that “hard costs” associated with purchasing devices and consumables are not the only thing they have to look out for, he noted.

In his Wednesday presentation on digital convergence and balanced deployment in the enterprise, Azmat Ali, business strategist with IPG shared printing and imaging, cited a Gartner Inc. total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis which suggested that hard costs make up 60 per cent of a company’s total output spending. The other 40 per cent – soft costs associated with software, end-user problem fixes, infrastructure and network management and administration – are “often never addressed.”

The IPG’s job going forward, according to Culhane, will be to “help customers understand what they’re spending, and how to optimize hard copy costs, while at the same time getting them to appreciate how things work on the business process side.” This will be done through equipment audits, an analysis of workflow and work processes, after which IPG Services will “come up with an optimal plan for deployment and management.” Culhane said he expects these services to help customers reduce their costs by 30 per cent.

According to Ali, total print management will be available through three engagement models: customers will either implement the solutions themselves, or they will be able to turn to IPG Services for consulting and integration, or the next step up, managed services. Culhane stressed that the IPG is “not trying to push any one answer,” but will be flexible according to what the customer wants. Other choices will revolve around financing – deciding whether to buy or lease – as well as “providing access to certain capabilities on a utility or on-demand basis.”

Culhane said the IPG is rallying behind the skills and knowledge of HP Services, which, employing about 65,000 people, is one of the largest service providers around. “We will be leveraging HP Services’ people, resources, methods, tools and processes to help customers understand their business processes, rather than rebuilding the whole thing over again for IPG,” said Culhane.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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