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Rethinking the workplace

Rethinking the workplace 

HP has been keeping a careful watch on how offices function, and has crafted a line of products designed to enhance workplace mobility while maintaining employee productivity and promoting a collaborative atmosphere. The new releases include several different enterprise-focused notebooks and tablets.

At a recent launch event held at Studio 450 in New York City, IT in Canada spoke to Michael Park, vice president and general manager of HP Mobility and Software Business Personal Systems as well as Chris Moyer, mobility and workplace leader and Chief Technology Officer of HP Enterprise Services about the company’s focus on mobility, how it affects their channel partners, and its plans for the future.

IT in Canada: Why is now the time for HP to expand its focus on workplace mobility?
If you look at what’s going on with mobility, we’re entering the late stages of adoption of consumer devices that are coming into the enterprise as content consumption devices. Mostly, these devices are being used to track mail, get some PowerPoints done, read some things and submit expense reports.

But if you look at what we’re designing for, we’re going way beyond that. We see that the problem is very similar to the Internet in the ‘90s, where it was mostly consumers first with AOL, Alta Vista and Netscape. All of that happened in consumer adoption, but once that technology matured, we started to see a transformation in taking that capability and retooling e-commerce work processes towards the Internet.

In that same way, (during) the past five to seven years, we’ve seen the consumer surge on the tablet make it real. There is new technology emerging that is thinner and lighter, but there is still the added challenge now of how do you take that technology into the enterprise in a secure way? How do you leverage all the (things) that enterprises have been doing in the PC world over the past 20 years?

You have to blend it in such a way that you create a continuum between PC and mobility use centered on IT’s ability to cost-effectively manage it and end users’ ability to harness mobility to do new things. We think that the timing is just right because that mobile transformation and transition is just starting to occur, and we think that the consumer (companies) who are building products there don’t understand the complexity of what it means to actually deliver them.

Moyer: I think the timing is very interesting. The maturity of the products is there, the opportunity to digitize end-to-end is there, whether it’s onboarding or off-ramping from a digitized environment. The companies that don’t address this are going to be disadvantaged.

The reason for some of the explosion in the demand is people are recognizing that they need a mobile strategy that moves towards mobile first. In many cases, it definitely expands the population of users in the enterprise that need to be mobilized. They need to have mobile information that’s relevant to their job on the right kind of device so that they can make the right decisions.

ITIC: How is the implementation of a mobile strategy cost-effective for SMBs and channel partners?
Today, the problem is that it’s cost-effective and potentially prohibitive to use IT resources to deploy management across multiple devices and OSes because a lot of that work that has to be done by SMBs is manually expensive.

Channel partners today are trying to stream that together with a (series) of third-party apps. My view on that is that we launched Touchpoint Manager for the channel, it became our breadwinner. But how do we put tools in place that can leverage HP scale, our brand, web services architecture and product sets that we can pre-connect to actually help channel partners drive into the market with more speed, greater levels of predictability and cost-effectiveness. They actually don’t need to go build and integrate that capability out of the box. If we can do some of that for them, they’re not taking (on) that expense; they don’t have to manage that, moving forward.

With that platform, they can put differentiated services on top of it so that in a particular geography or industry, the channel partners can focus on the value-added activities that the customer appreciates instead of keeping the spaghetti bowl tied together.

A lot of this also is a transformation we want to drive with the channel partners to help them move from being a classic reseller to more of a solution provider. We think that this will be very (difficult) for them to do individually, but we think we can help the do that by pre-assembling some of these things.

With the Touchpoint strategy, we’re saying that (partners) don’t even have to be exclusive to HP. We built it to run on various platforms to give optionality so that partners can start to introduce it into their install base, even if they already have a whole set of other products in there. We firmly believe that if you can help a partner deliver services, then the hardware will come with it over time.

ITIC: Why is it important for enterprises to have a mobile strategy in place?
Where people are working is changing, so if you think about the workforce itself, you have the same number of millennials as (older workers). On one dimension, email is more often than not the tool that (older workers) use. On another, the millennials are coming in and saying “What’s that? I’m used to Chatr, WhatsApp and different forms of communication.”

You have a diversity of the workforce that you’ve never had to deal with before. People aren’t working inside the four walls anymore. Work style are changing because we’re living in a global economy now. We have to deal with multiple languages and cultures, and that’s also creating tension.

When you have workplace, workforce and work styles coming together, it presents challenges for the CIO, who has to present IT solutions to support that. At the end of the day, all of that is centered on mobility.

CM: There’s an added feature that becomes another surface you can attacked. We’re seeing the CIO demand a different level of security on these devices because the bad guys are getting smarter, but so are the good guys. We have to bring that to them in a package that’s easy to use.

As we looked at how to pre-integrate and put some services on these devices as they’re launched, we focused on how to (provide) secure information access in a mobile environment anywhere you choose to do work. I think that is what people are looking for. But if they don’t do it, the competition starts to, and suddenly, they’re getting better customer support, they’re giving a different customer engagement and their employees feel more engaged.

We’re all in a fight for talent, and the reality is that we want to attract the absolute best people. They want tools that let them do their jobs in a method that we might not have designed as the IT department walking in. We’ve got to give them some range of flexibility, and giving them the right kind of devices, management and service structure around it that makes a difference for those companies that adopt their services into a mobile-first strategy.

ITIC: What does the future hold for HP and the mobile workplace?
I think the future has got a larger number of devices and increasingly smarter environments that we’re going to work in. Whether it becomes a wearable or an Internet of Things (device), there’s much smarter ecosystem that we’ll live in, and from our point of view, we want to participate in that.

Sometimes we’ll make the device; sometimes we’ll capture and manage the information and provide the real-time analytics. Many times, we’ll provide the application and the infrastructure to host those in a cloud environment that lets businesses take advantage and make near-real-time decisions in a way that actually changes the way that their customers feel attached, even if they’re remote from the cornerstone of the organization. That’s one of the things that I think will emerge.

MP: I think that what will happen from our standpoint is the notion of one size fits all cannot work in mobility. Even beyond just tablets, form factors will emerge and different form factors will work together to enable new kinds of work flows. We’re looking at that now and saying “How do we partner with our chipset (providers) and the different ISVs to really imagine how the world is going to change in that regard?”

We have to use the insight they provide to drive the solution that creates differentiator hardware, services and software that actually enables the channel partners to deliver it on our behalf as well. We’ve got to have the capability that can scale out an SMB. It’s so unique, and it’s such a fragmented market.

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