TORONTO — Hewlett-Packard Canada chief Paul Tsaparis was downright philosophical when he spoke at Tuesday’s E-Business 2001 Conference.
The conference was troubled by anaemic attendance, but that didn’t deter Tsaparis from weaving his company’s e-services play into a broader historical context. The digital renaissance will be “deeper than the original renaissance,” he said.
He spoke of portable computing “re-inventing time” and invention being the currency of the new renaissance. He also described his company as a “shining soul.”
CDN spoke with Tsaparis after his speech to find out just how HP shines and how the company will continue in the e-services arena.
What does “shining soul” mean?
We call HP a “winning e-company with a shining soul.” People, employees, partners, resellers want to be associated with a company that’s a winner. It’s a very clear way of motivating not only your employees but members of your reseller ecosystem. The shining soul part . . . is our core values that have kind of been our anchor in these turbulent times that we’re in. “Shining soul” also means that HP contributes to the communities that we do business with around the world. In HP Canada, for example, we have very strong philanthropic focus on girls in maths and sciences in kindergarten to Grade 6
You’ve said that it’s not so much the technology that’s going to drive the e-services market as it is leadership skills. What companies do you see with the requisite leadership capabilities?
There’s not an organization that I think is free of re-inventing themselves. I think all companies are facing the challenges and excitements of re-inventing their businesses. There are a number of companies out there that are doing some very innovative things. An example of a company that is innovative and has the right set of cultural and leadership capabilities is Research in Motion.
E-services is a big push for HP, especially with the e-services bazaar opening in Toronto. How do you feel HP’s e-services offerings are being articulated to the market?
Electronic or digitally delivered services are certainly generic terms and purposefully so. When you think about the ubiquity of these electronic services, and the vision of this “always on” Internet infrastructure, these millions and millions of information appliances and context-aware electronic services, you want terms that are sufficiently generic to cover the wide range of possibilities that exist.
What we’re doing now is bringing out proof points and examples of these e-services that are being delivered either by Hewlett-Packard or being delivered by our business partners — whether its our business partners, our ISVs, our systems integrator partners. The more proof points that are out there, the more examples you can draw on to bring some clarity to people about what e-services are.
What role are your reseller and channel partners playing in your e-services?
Our products are primarily distributed through our reseller and distribution channels, so we have a very significant commitment to that channel in terms of how our products and services get to market. Think of that as a foundation of all the business relationships that currently exist, this ecosystem of partnerships. What we’re now starting to see is a lot of our resellers are starting to the value offering that they are providing.
We not only encourage but welcome some of the changes that our resellers are taking to add much more value for their customers. They’re going far beyond fulfillment to system integration services to software development. We’re actually helping our resellers both financially and with training capabilities to enhance their level of HP certification . . . to make sure that the ultimate value proposition that they present to their customers is more robust and more meaningful. For us, we see our resellers being a very active of the future of our e-services strategy.
What role will the larger integrators, like the Deloitte & Touches of the world, play, considering their expertise in the e-services realm?
We’ve had a very strong relationship with the likes of Deloitte & Touche and Accenture, PwC, just to name a few of the major integrators out there. The reason is that partnering is in our DNA, and partnering has been part of our DNA from the very beginning.
Upon Hewlett-Packard’s first major push in terms of Unix systems, the whole premise of open systems means that you can’t do it all yourself. The whole premise of open systems for us is that we needed to make sure we attracted the right ecosystem around HP architecture. That involved software companies, systems integrators, resellers and distributors.
When the big ERP wave was upon us, for example, SAP was very successful in the marketplace. One of the major transformations that happened at that time was that people were going from mainframes to Unix server technology, customers wanted all the reliability, all the trust, all the security, all the manageability of the environments they had before. They wanted it at a new price point and they wanted it with a whole lot of flexibility they had in the past.
What we started to see is that HP still owns major market share with the SAPs, the Oracles and the PeopleSofts. In fact, HP is still the No. 1 Unix server company in Canada. The sole reason for that success is having the ecosystems of ISVs, system integrators and resellers that are out there to be successful with that particular product category. Hence, when we come together with the likes of a PwC, Deloitte, Cap Gemini or an Accenture, we blend what they do exceptionally well, which is business transformation knowledge. We have a great deal of our resellers that are adding value in the very same areas.
How is HP trying to market its wireless strategy? Everyone knows wireless is going to be a really big part of the industry, but nobody’s really sure how it’s going to work.
Wireless is extremely important to us. It’s a strategic thrust. When we talk about “lives lived in motion,” we think it’s a great metaphor for describing both how businesses and consumers are going to be working in the future. So, from an HP strategy standpoint, we do see this as an excellent market opportunity and we’ve invested very heavily in our wireless e-service bazaars.
The premise behind (them) is to have an incubator whereby software companies, service providers, hardware companies — both our own and others — as well as end users come together in an ecosystem. It has both a physical and virtual presence and it’s linked to these global bazaars we have around the world. Within that, we never believed that one company is going to be smart enough to be able to find out all the combinations and permutations of the wireless environment.
However, by creating the bazaars, we have an opportunity to be a part of the innovation and the ideas and the invention that’s going to be taking place in this industry, and making sure that HP is an integral part of that. We launched one of the first North American sites here in Toronto.
What do you think will be the killer app for wireless services?
I don’t believe there will be a killer app, because our strategy is based on the premise that there are millions of information appliances that are out there, we have this “always on” information infrastructure to rely upon. It’s based on the premise that there’s also going to be thousands and millions of e-services that are out there. What makes sense for you, in your context, from either your business or personal perspective, may not necessarily make sense to another individual. I think the art is going to be able to deliver these context-specific wireless e-services that are meaningful to a person in their place and in their time. It’s never going to be one application that does that.
How is HP’s e-services strategy different in Canada than the U.S. or around the world?
From a strategy standpoint, it’s the same globally. What you don’t want to do is have a whole bunch of different strategies out there. But how things get implemented and how you take advantage of the local market conditions and opportunities is, in fact, what we’re all about at HP Canada. Probably the best example is our wireless e-services bazaar. Here we’re taking a strategy in terms of developing these incubators of innovation around the world.
Our Canadian operation won an almost internal competition to have the site located here. The big reason that the Toronto site won was because of the availability of innovative software companies, service providers, network hardware manufacturers, as well as innovative end users. It went beyond our wildest expectations in terms of not only how successful the launch was, but how successful we’ve been in terms of attracting partners into this centre.
Here we take a common strategy, we implement it in our local market conditions and develop this as one of our North American hubs. To us, that’s really exciting. We’re not only creating opportunities for our partners in Canada, but we’re creating opportunities for our partners on a North American as well as a worldwide basis.
Does HP plan to enter the business-to-business exchange market?
We don’t have any B2B exchanges that are currently in place. That comes back to our fundamental belief we have in our reseller channel and the value that they bring. We believe that there are always going to be multiple channels to market and any large corporation needs to be respectful of the various channels. We have been thoroughly convinced that our reseller channel is a critically important part of what we’re doing. In fact, we’re putting more investment into it.
Has the failure of some of the B2B exchanges served as a warning?
There was a tremendous amount of hype associated with them. It was almost the same kind of phenomenon as the sky-high evaluations that were going on in the dot-com area. I think people have retrenched very, very significantly from those initiatives. Right now, the fundamentals of business are really coming back to the marketplace.