HP holds own in region

During its deliberations on rationalising resources Hewlett-Packard looked at taking its manufacturing plant out of Australia but finally chose not to. The decision was a "big win for Australasia", says HP NZ chief Russell Hewitt.

During its deliberations on rationalising resources Hewlett-Packard looked at taking its manufacturing plant out of Australia but finally chose not to. The decision was a “big win for Australasia”, says HP NZ chief Russell Hewitt.

Hewitt, speaking to media as part of a roadshow coinciding with the merged company’s first birthday this month, suggested that having a plant so close by (in Sydney, employing 150 staff) aids an efficient local supply chain. On that subject, Hewitt says that the SARS epidemic hasn’t had much of an impact on business yet — apart from restricting company travel within the region — but the company does expect its forecasting ability to be affected by the presence of SARS, given that so many supplies come out of Asia.

HP took the opportunity of its first anniversary to launch a swag of products, including a dozen new printers, and to outline a new strategy it calls the “adaptive enterprise”. The strategy, which was immediately derided by competitors such as Sun as “IBM’s favourite trick ... put a big banner out there that they can later put anything they do underneath”, focuses on more tightly linking IT and business operations using HP’s broad pool of resources. Emphasising automatic management, straightforward integration and architectural flexibility, the strategy centres around a reference architecture called Darwin, which is designed to map business processes to every enterprise product, service and standard that HP supports.

Hewitt says HP NZ held its own in most product markets over the past calendar year, a time termed “interesting” and “challenging” by various company executives. The company nevertheless expected a much stronger challenge in the sales channel than it got. Much time was spent in the past year making the company’s product roadmap clear to the channel and nailing down contracts and terms of conditions. HP now has 12 managers solely whose sole job is to keep the channel happy. Some 95% of Intel-based HP products are sold through the channel.

HP NZ, which was the first country in the world to go through “legal close” on the merger, employs near to 600 people, about the same as a year ago. The number was maintained despite “natural attrition” and the hiring of 120 new people.

Products and services launched last week include the DL760 G2 Server with hot pluggable RAID memory, two network storage options for the midrange market, the HP Compaq NX9010 and HP Compaq nc4000 ultraportable business notebooks, the entry-level XW4100 workstation, L1925 19in TFT display, T5700 thin client, iPAQ 1910 and 12 new printers including low-end laserjets, business inkjets, plus large-format and multifunction machines. Also, the warranty on commercial desktops is changing to next-day on-site response.

The company’s bid to outsource, in partnership with Unisys, all of Fonterra’s IT services, was both a “huge opportunity and challenge” says Hewitt.

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