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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

HP - Above the Fray...

With the re-org at HP IPG there are a few new faces in prominent positions.

Faces from all over the world and people who have fresh ideas and a passion for printing.

As I talk to and work with these people, here are some of my reflections, observations and ideas:

1. The HP/Global acquisition-

I had first thought Xerox had "stole" out from under HP - I was wrong.

HP, after long consideration, and a detailed accounting review, did not want Global. And if they didn't want Global, they sure as heck wouldn't want IKON.

2. HP doesn't know how to market the Edgeline-

I had once thought that HP was trying to slam a square peg, through a round hole, when they tried to work with their existing IT integrators and that they had no plan.

On this issue, I was right and wrong.

The square peg thing - yes, I was correct.

My feeling that they had no plan, I was wrong.

HP had a plan but it was a flawed one.

I am speaking to Edgeline and the space the unit resides in the market.

Nobody has said this out loud to me, but when Edgeline hit the market, some felt "if you build it, they will come...". By adding it to the top of the price list, IT managers will naturally gravitate to the Edgeline as they have for decades with the other HP printing products.

The idea sounds great - present Edgeline to IT through HP's already developed and well trained IT integrators in the field. After all, the current HP integrators are as close as family, know HP's quality, have established relationships with clients' IT divisions and can easily add Edgeline to their product portfolio.

Unfortunately, if you throw some of these technology folks into a selling situation against seasoned copier people, the techies will get slaughtered - and move back into their comfort zone.

This issue will be magnified when the 100+ pager per minute Edgeline hits the streets(not that far in the future) - at 100 plus, isn't that a Segment 5? Well, ok, but it's not production, it's office/business color output at 100+ pages a minute. So do we now redefine the Segment system? And how did all those Segments get determined in the first place and by who?

This is what I believe HP understands now:

Edgeline can not be sold like a laser printer.

Traditional copier dealers are more likely to sell an old school copier than Edgeline - so authorizing within that channel is foolish.

The traditional dealer can find enough "faults" with Edgeline compared to the "cheaper" copier-de-jour, to pivot an HP lead into a copier sale.

-Or even worse, the copier dealer may be motivated to sell HP MFP's, place the client on a supplies inclusive agreement supported by third-party supplies...shudder.-

I wonder if that has ever happened.

Authorizing existing HP integrators -

The Edgeline competes with copiers. I.T. integrators know little about that market. For instance leasing, Cost per copy, meter reads and first copy out times are all foreign phrases.

HP knows now, but might not have before, that you can not work with an existing copier dealer and expect them to get Edgeline and HP's Print 2.0 methodology and how to articulate the differences between and the advantages of going with a "printer" company over a "copier" company.

This is good news, missteps are part of growing.

By the way, speaking of missteps and growing, nobody knows better than the current "honchos" at HP (at least the ones I talk to) about learning how NOT to integrate an acquisition: Compaq is in the forefront of "learning opportunities".

HP is growing the channel organically.

This will take a while - 3-5 years.

This will not be pleasant - converting I.T. order tackers into output solution providers.

HP is not getting into the copier fray and will be taking the high road.

This will change everything.

And my recommendations:
  • Stop bringing in so many people from competitive printer manufactures
  • Cultivate your base of IT integrators
  • Hire from the Copier industry(gag, j/k)
  • Think more like a copier provider, but not too much
  • Develop a Pull marketing campaign around the best integrators
  • Market answers to business problems
  • Develop and replicate the "Ideal HP Printing VAR" as though the VAR was employed by HP
I am sure I can think of more...but this is enough...


  1. Greg, your title is very interesting in that it really struck me that after Ricoh purchased IKON, HP didn't want a direct distribution channel. I don't know why I didn't see that earlier, but why would they need one? As one of our consultants once said, they have enough money that one day they are going to get this right. Solid post...

  2. Ken,

    I knew you would get it.

    Hit me too...while sharing a second bottle of red in Napa...

    It was a "doh!" moment.


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