Alcatel, HP Target Small Biz Market

By Matt Villano | Posted October 15, 2003

In an effort to meet growing demand from small- and medium-sized business (SMB) customers, high-tech firms Alcatel and Hewlett-Packard announced plans to collaborate.

As part of the agreement, HP and Alcatel will launch a new "Ready Office Program" to provide SMB customers with modular, turnkey voice, data and multi-media solutions that address productivity needs. In addition to development the two companies will also co-market the products.

As a big boost of confidence, France Telecom will be the first telecommunications service provider to join the Alcatel and HP initiative, delivering SMBs in France with a single point of contact for their telecommunications needs. Future versions of the packages are expected to follow a similar format both at home and abroad, providing services to SMB customers in areas including: PC support, remote configuration and management, software upgrades, telephony, messaging, and conferencing.

HP chairman and CEO Carly Fiorina said the strategy will be available in a "pay per use" model designed to vary in price depending on the needs of each SMB customer.


"We are pleased ... to create integrated solutions designed to remove the complexity SMBs worldwide face when trying to purchase and set up their computing and telecommunications environments," Fiorina said in a prepared statement. "This joint offering will enable SMBs to get more out of their IT and telecommunications while enabling them to spend more time focused on running their businesses."

HP certainly is no stranger to the SMB market. The company partnered with Dimension Data last summer to target small and medium businesses, and recent statistics put the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company as the worldwide leader in the SMB customer segment, generating more than $21 billion in revenue annually in that space. Banking on this position in the marketplace, Fiorina and other company officials announced last month that they would invest $750 million in research and development, marketing, sales programs and services for this segment over the next three years.

Though HP already offers SMBs with a personalized Web site and a dedicated small and medium business store, the "Ready Office Program" is the first foray into this new campaign. In addition to providing a combination of IT and communication services, both HP and Paris-based Alcatel announced that they also will leverage their networks of indirect distribution channels so that service providers can benefit from the go-to-market capability offered by certified channel partners. What's more, the firms will provide professional services to support operators throughout various phases of service delivery, from business planning to commercial deployment.

Analysts were excited to hear of the new partnership.

"This important partnership illustrates the changing role of equipment vendors in the telecommunications supply chain," said Camille Mendler, research director at the Yankee Group. "The key challenge in today's market is to provide simplicity and convenience ... and telecom service providers are looking beyond technology solutions to the commercial services that equipment vendors can also supply."

The HP-Alcatel partnership was scheduled to go into effect immediately.

Adapted from internetnews.com.

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