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Sun 26 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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Exploiting the telecommunication boom

Hewlett-Packard attributes business wins to its adaptive enterprise strategy that helps end users exploit change for competitive advantage.

|~|second-hp-image.jpg|~|A long time ago, HP decided to work with open standards technologies, which gives customers choices, says HP’s Hanania. |~|40% of Hewlett Packard’s Middle East operation’s revenue comes from the enterprise sector, so it does not come as a surprise to see the vendor’s bullish aspirations to further exploit the region’s lucrative telecommunications sector.

As the Middle East deregulates its telecommunications sector, HP is readying itself to capitalise on the enormous business opportunities that will be created by the move. The telecommunications industry is a big revenue earner for HP not only in the Middle East, but also around the globe. At its enterprise forum, which was held in Copenhagen, HP unveiled a broad portfolio of enterprise solutions that provide business continuity and agility.

The company believes in today’s competitive business environment enterprises are demanding solutions that can meet their current and future requirements. “The IT landscape of the Middle East is changing rapidly. Enterprises are investing heavily on their network infrastructures and the whole ecosystem is built around that. These organisations are not only extending their network platform, but their entire IT infrastructure,” says Joseph Hanania, managing director of HP Middle East.

“The opening of the telecommunications sector in the Middle East is going to bring in enormous business opportunities. Operators in different GCC nations are currently being offered operating licenses. The UAE, for example, will have another operator by the end of 2005. HP is in a strong position to take advantage of this boom,” Hanania says.

Indeed, the vendor is well positioned. For example, HP has been awarded a contract by Jordan’s Umniah Mobile Company. Under the terms of the agreement, HP will provide Umniah with the necessary IT infrastructure to build the telco’s business support system, which includes mediation and service provisioning, proliant blades and HP integrity servers, HP 9000 and storage systems. Apart from creating the infrastructure, HP will also cross-integrate the mediation system with billing and switches and service provisioning with billing, customer relationship management (CRM) and network.

"Our choice of HP as an [IT solutions provider]is strategic to our long-term plans. A high level of technology know-how and experience is required to fully support our aggressive business model," says Michael Dagher, partner and CEO of Umniah Mobile Company. “It was important for Umniah to work with a company that had product knowledge and the expertrise to successfully carry out the implementation,” he adds.

Hanania says Jordan is at the forefront of the region's telecommunications industry and the introduction of HP's technology solutions catapult Umniah into a select group of regional players, which have the foresight and the capability to provide highly efficient customer service in mobile telephony.

Another move by the region, which will help HP boost its enterprise sector revenue, is the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US. GCC nations are keen to secure the trade agreement with the US. These nations see the FTA as an initiative to advance economic reform in the region and secure open business relationship between the trading parties. “The Middle East governments are becoming very active and the Free Trade Treaty with the US will create a lot of business opportunities for everyone,” says Hanania. Negotiations for the aspired FTA have been facilitated by a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed by the United States and the UAE a year ago.

HP may be paying special attention to the region’s telecommunications sector, but the vendor is not forgetting three other verticals that contribute significantly to its enterprise revenue. These include financial services, public sector and a collection of smaller verticals such as oil& gas, hospitality, transportation and healthcare.

When express and logistics company DHL decided to overhaul its IT infrastructure, it decided to deploy long-term partner HP’s business continuity services (BC-Services) solution in addition to other vendor solutions. DHL’s co-ordinated international network links more than 220 countries including the Middle East, meeting the demands of over 3.5 million customers and moving over one billion items annually.

With such a huge customer-base and geographic spread, DHL cannot afford to have downtime. 50% of all firms without a business continuity strategy shut down permanently following a disaster and 90% of all businesses that experience a disaster close down within two years, according to DHL.
The logistics conglomerate says business continuity strategies are crucial at all times to ensure the company’s survival even in extreme circumstances. “We decided to modernise DHL’s IT platform in order to meet the growing customer demand. DHL needs to be in a position to conduct business at any time of the day or night without interruption,” says Richard Duplessis, head of production services at DHL EMEA.

The company also wanted to enhance business applications to support globally harmonised business rules and processes. DHL wanted to identify and correct a number of potential single points of failure to ensure reliable services to its customers. “It was critical for us to deploy mission-critical solutions to reduce operations costs by eliminating costly unplanned outages and reducing planned downtime through customised services to the entire end-to-end environment 24/7,” he adds. Business continuity means more than just shipping hardware. It is about aligning business so that IT essentially supports the value chain. HP was able to meet this requirement.

“The vendor delivered a resilient network infrastructure with fail over capability. It demonstrated all production and business critical severs continued delivering service after a failure.”

HP attributes the success of its long-term partnership with organisations like DHL to meeting their business demands. “We try to provide total IT solutions to our customers and where we are unable to do this, we work through our partners. It is crucial to understand the requirements of your customers in order to meet their demands,” notes Hanania.

Furthermore, HP claims its open standards technologies are also contributing to its leadership position. Enterprise customers are technology savvy and they like to be in a position to make their own decision when it comes to selecting technologies. The days of vendor lock-in are coming to an end and HP is aware of this fact. “When customers feel they do not have much options with a particular vendor they tend to shy away from such relationships. HP long time ago chose to work with open standards technologies, which gives customers choices. Customers have the ability to pick and choose to meet their requirements,” he notes. “There is no doubt most technologies in the Middle East are cutting edge. I look at it this way: when enterprises have the opportunity to deploy state-of-the-art technologies then why should they deploy the second best solutions.”

HP has 700 headcount in the Middle East and more than 50% of its employees focus on the high-end segment of the market. Hanania says his orgnisation’s commitment to the enterprise sector remains strong and most business engagements tend to be based on one-to-one; hence the need for extensive resources. “The Middle East market as a whole and the [corporate sector] is important for HP. A lot of our competitors are not in a strong position as HP to take advantage of the opportunities in the region. Our investments over the last 10 years are starting to pay off,” Hanania enthuses. ||**||

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