HP tries to get smart with SMB

Hewlett-Packard launched its Smart Office package of products and services for small and medium businesses with great fanfare recently. However Canadian VARs will have to wait a while until they see how many of the goodies will be offered here.

Lloyd Bryant, vice-president and general manager

of HP Canada’s personal systems group, said in an interview that a number of the services announced by the company in the U.S. may not make it here, or if they do will have to be altered to meet the Canadian market.

Offerings not immediately available here include the Mobility Now initiative, which include an online resource for wireless solutions.

A Canadian team of SMB solution specialists, based at the HP Toronto help centre who are supposed to aid customers by phone in finding HP-based solutions as well as steer them to a local reseller, won’t be operational until Nov. 1.

Bryant couldn’t say how many people will be on the team.

The vagueness has left one HP Platinum reseller cool on the program’s potential.

“”It’s too early to tell,”” said Frank Abate, president of Infinity Technologies Inc. of Mississauga, Ont.

“”At least they’re trying to take a stance and define a marketplace.””

But he said it looks like “”just a re-branding to some degree of existing programs.””

Bryant said Hewlett-Packard VARs will benefit from the Smart Office initiative as it’s rolled out.

“”The small-medium business market in Canada is large,”” he said. “”Statistics Canada said three-quarters of all new jobs created in 2002 were by SMBs. It’s a segment acquiring new technology. In a landscape where it’s difficult to find new growth opportunities, this is one.””

“”Smart Office is a framework around which we plan to deliver products, services, solutions and support for small and medium businesses.””

HP Canada defines the market as including companies with from 19 to 499 users.

Rather than a new focus on SMBs, he stressed, the plan is “”an enhancement of our offerings.””

Also coming is what HP calls the Unified Support Network for SMBs, a framework for delivering services to customers, some of which are HP-branded and can be sold as Care Packs, which is HP’s name for extended services.

An example of one such service is User Application Support, an HP help desk package for SMB customers for most desktop applications.

Another is Electronic Vaulting Online for SMBs, a continuous backup and restore for servers running Windows 2000 or 2003, and Recover-All for SMBs, which extends the warranty or basic maintenance agreement on HP ProLiant servers.

However Bryant had no Canadian pricing details on these Care Packs, some of which will be delivered by partners.

Details were also lacking for HP’s Smart Finance offering in Canada, which the company said is aimed at simplifying multi-vendor purchasing, trade-ins and recycling.

HP also announced new imaging and printing systems it says are aimed at small and medium sized companies. They include the Colour LaserJet 9500n, with an estimated street price of $10,000; two DeskJet six-ink printers; a projector and a wireless access point.

“”SMBs are looking for local relevance and support capabilities that resellers offer,”” said Bryant. “”This is a significant business opportunity.””

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including ITBusiness.ca. Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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