It is now proven: printing is more than just a simple IT concern. Leading technology research and advisory firms like Gartner, IDC and All Associates Group estimate that three to six per cent of an average company's revenue is spent on printing. This is because the real cost of printed documents is much higher than its face value.
An HP study shows that in every $1 (Dh3.67) spent on printing an additional $9 is needed to manage it. This is not to mention that about 50 per cent of the incurred costs are employees' personal stuff. And unfortunately, 90 per cent of firms do not track their printing costs.
Huge losses have also been traced from unsecured printing or unsecured access to printed materials. Industry studies show that US companies have been incurring $59 billion loss a year – 70 per cent through unauthorised employees.
These, among others, are the facts that will fuel the drive to further optimise printing operations.
According to Susanne Heis, Vice-President and General Manager, HP's Imaging and Printing Group Middle East, Mediterranean, Africa (Mema), customers are seeking better printing services that address both profitability and corporate social responsibility.
Instead of slashing prices of its printers to address the current economic turmoil, the firm is embarking on new business portfolios such as the managed printing services, which promises to reduce total cost and environmental footprint.
Heis is optimistic about the overall business. "The whole region is a growth area. However, in the current environment there is no growth area. If you take specific topics around the region, we are still hiring some people in some places," she said.
HP seems to be quite active in conferences and other marketing programmes lately despite the crisis. Does this mean HP Imaging and Printing Group has actually increased its marketing and advertising budgets?
I think the important thing is that we are putting a lot of efforts on the managed printing services. This has nothing to do with business spending as such.
Considering that you have been focusing your efforts on the managed printing services – which promises a 28 to 45 per cent cost reduction for enterprise customers – how much of your overall growth can be derived from this service?
We're looking at an inner growth of approximately 30-35 per cent. But the thing is, you cannot really say that. I'm not even sure that this number makes a lot of sense taking the current economic environment. But really, there is no growth plan. This will be a major growth factor but the point is that this is for the high interest of customers because of all the things that they get out of it.
People are now looking at value for money. Are you looking at slashing prices of your printers?
I think there is no reason to do that.
What are you doing to reduce your own costs? Will there be more expansion plans?
We are still doing investments where we see growth and we are very careful like any other company in the global environment.
No job cuts?
Not a planned one. I'm very careful on that question because we are running transformation projects always and you might see one or another person leaving because we want to run the business differently. If you take specific topics around the region, we are still hiring some people in some places; we are still looking at what can be done better. We are hiring, at least replacing those who are leaving. This issue is performance based and it's also based on other things that we decide.
HP has three business segments – Imaging and Printing Group (IPG), Personal Systems Group (PSG) and Technology Solutions Group (TSG). How big is IPG currently and what are your future targets?
I can only answer that on a worldwide level. In the last quarter, it was 22 per cent of the company but we are not going down any further.
Is the Middle East in particular a silver lining to your business?
That is without doubt. If I take the whole region, it is a growth area. However in the current environment there is no growth area. In an overall perspective, this is going to be an investment area, an area that is going to have lots of businesses. In Saudi Arabia, there is so much demand from our customers. It is also a very stable country in the economic environment, it's like a separate environment.
How much growth are you looking at for this year?
I can only answer that in a global perspective. If you look at the outlook that our CEO gave it was about flat.
Due to environment concerns, there has been a call to limit printing. Does that translate to a lesser business for you?
No. This is the favourite topic of people in the office, the dream of all of us. But what the people under-estimated is that the number and size of information is growing significantly. So though less is going to be printed as a percentage of the information available, information is still doubling so the issue is you only print what is needed. But it is not to the point that people will not print anymore.
Looking at the most recent Gartner's Magic quadrant, Xerox seems to be on top of HP. How do you plan to level the competition?
If you look at the full market overview on printing, HP is the market leader worldwide. Looking at the IDC numbers, HP is by far the market leader in nearly every phase of printing. If you look at the Gartner quadrant, yes, they are in the same quadrant, neck to neck with HP. But don't forget who started earlier. It was not us, to be fair, it was actually Xerox. From a customer perspective, it is really a question of where do you want to go. We don't have a copier background. We have an IT background. At the end, it is for the customer to decide.
PROFILE: Susanne Heis Vice-President and General Manager, HP's Imaging and Printing Group Middle East, Mediterranean, Africa (Mema)
Heis heads the HP IPG in the Mema region, which includes all Middle Eastern countries, the African continent as well as Greece, Israel and Turkey.
Previously, she managed HP's regional Consumer Go To Market Unit for Central Eastern Europe – a role which she took over from her earlier position as Consumer GTMU Manager for the International Sales Europe.
She joined HP in 1988 as commercial service specialist for HP's Components Products Group for Austria and Eastern Europe.
Her other previous titles include Director of Imaging and Printing Group Marketing for ISE, SMB & Channel Marketing Manager for the Business Customer Organization for ISE and Field Marketing Manager for Germany, Austria, Eastern Europe and Middle East/Africa. Heis joined HP in 1988 as commercial service specialist for the HP´s Components Products Group for Austria and Eastern Europe.
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