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Tue 1 May 2007 05:34 PM

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HP shifts from IT to BT

IT behemoth HP pulled out all the stops at its Technology@Work event in Berlin last month. With 3,000 business customers attending, HP whipped the covers off a range of new offerings that place technology at the heart of business optimisation.

HP claims that it is moving beyond information technology to a new era of business technology where IT investment is measured by one crucial factor: how well it delivers against business objectives. Senior HP executives including Ann Livermore, executive VP, technology solutions group (TSG) at HP, and Francesco Serafini, managing director at HP EMEA, lined up to extol the business benefits of the latest enterprise solutions on offer from HP.

"The age of information technology as we know it is over. The new reality is that technology doesn't just support the business - technology powers the business and helps drive growth," says Livermore. "The shift to business technology enables CIOs to weigh and measure their investments in terms of business outcomes - whether it's managing risk, accelerating growth or lowering costs."

According to HP's own in-house research, an overwhelming majority of CEOs and CIOs claim that technology is now integral to the success of their business. However, while 99% of CEOs agree that technology is integral to business success, only 32% of the CEOs polled involve CIOs at the inception of strategic planning.

To help its business customers manage risk, accelerate growth and lower costs, HP has unveiled a raft of new solutions and services within its business information optimisation, business technology optimisation and adaptive infrastructure portfolios.

HP showed off its next generation Neoview data warehouse platform during the event. The move forms part of HP's efforts to offer customers solutions and services that drive business optimisation.

HP has developed a range of new business intelligence (BI) services designed to give businesses better access to data. HP claims that its latest offering allows customers to make informed business decisions, while simultaneously reducing cost and risk and accelerating sales growth.

"HP's approach to business intelligence integrates its innovative products and services with robust partner relationships to bring BI capabilities to a broader set of users across the enterprise," says Ben Barnes, VP and general manager, BI software group at HP.

The HP Neoview data warehouse platform - an integrated hardware, software and services platform - acts as a business outcomes engine, according to HP. It provides customers with a comprehensive view of essential business information, such as metrics on product sales, customer trends, or operational effectiveness.

HP claims that unlike many legacy enterprise data warehouses, HP Neoview is designed for a 24x7 environment where decision making is seamlessly integrated into business operations at multiple levels within the organisation.

HP has also launched a set of BI services designed to help businesses improve decision making and competitive advantage. This service offering was enhanced by HP's acquisition of 700-strong US-based BI consultancy Knightsbridge Solutions.

The vendor is adamant that both Neoview and its BI services sit comfortably alongside the offerings of major BI software vendors. Strong partnerships are already in place with a number of specialist BI vendors including Business Objects, Cognos and SAS. HP claims that these relationships facilitate the delivery of joint solutions with specialised expertise in BI and tight integration with HP technology.

Since the arrival of Mark Hurd as CEO at HP, the technology giant's share price has risen strongly, buoyed by the solid performance of both the imaging and printing division and also the personal systems group. With these units firing on all cylinders, HP has the foundations in place to develop its offerings and solutions for business customers. The vendor has spent billions on software acquisitions and - as the company looks to expand its solutions footprint - chasing the growth potential that emerging markets offer is a natural step forward.

The age of IT as we know it is over. The new reality is that technology doesn’t just support the business – technology powers the business and helps drive growth.

Francesco Serafini, managing director at HP EMEA, believes that the Middle East market represents a huge growth opportunity for the vendor. Serafini has outlined ambitious plans for continued investment and greater focus in the Middle East market to drive HP's growth.

Speaking to ACN in Berlin, Serafini - who paid a visit to Saudi Arabia recently - outlined the vendor's strategy for building up its Middle East operation.

"We have now split the International Sales Europe (ISE) theatre into two regions and this means that the Middle East market will become much more visible. We will be able to increase our focus on the region," says Serafini. "We want to make even more investment in the region."

Serafini claims that there is strong commitment within HP to drive the expansion of the Middle East operation.

"There is a great deal of support," he declares. "Everyone talks about Brazil, Russia, India and China - the BRIC countries. In the Middle East, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe, there is a combined population of 1.5 billion people - that's the same as China. In the overall Middle East and Africa region GDP is rising, IT investment is climbing, consumer spending power is growing and PC penetration is low - there is a huge potential return when you look at the longer-term outlook over five or six years."

HP is also keen to tap into Saudi Arabia's appetite for IT spending. The vendor has already transformed its KSA operation into a fully-fledged in-country unit and is now looking to boost the availability of related skills and services within the Kingdom.

"We are trying to increase the investment in Saudi Arabia - specifically in the service area," explains Serafini. "Selling products is fine and we have some excellent channel partners in Saudi Arabia, but we now need much better service capability and that is something that we are working on."

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