HP's 'Smart Office' Initiative for SMBs: Phase Two - Page 2

By Patricia Fusco
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Core SMB Networking
In addition to making it easier for SMBs to learn more about its Smart Office products, HP also introduced two new "Smart Solutions" programs today. This HP initiative focuses on delivering more efficient combinations of hardware, software, services and support to smaller businesses. Ogburn said HP's Smart Solutions would initially focus on server migration and application integration services for SMBs.

"There are currently more than one million NT server licenses worldwide," Ogburn said. "Half of these NT users will migrate to Windows 2003 this year. By working with our business partners, we can help SMBs upgrade their infrastructure."

For smaller businesses, server upgrades are all about increasing productivity, lowering costs and better network security. Designed to readily integrate with existing IT investments, HP's first pair of Smart Solutions will tackle major technology refreshes, which includes network infrastructure upgrades and application management services.

HP's Smart Infrastructure Solutions provide SMBs with the necessary building blocks to realize the full potential of their IT systems. These basic building blocks include key computing elements all SMBs need — file and print sharing, document management, communication and collaboration, and business continuity.

HP's Smart Business Application Solutions will address core SMB business processes. Here, HP's partners will work closely with key vertical business application providers to deliver industry-specific solutions. These solutions will include ways for small businesses to continue to automate their business processes in back-office accounting systems and front-office CRM systems (define), for example.

Easy Access to IT
HP is pretty good at providing IT services to enterprises, and now HP is able to deliver the same level of IT services to SMBs through its new "Smart Support" portfolio of services. Ogburn explained what HP's four new Smart Support programs entail.

"Our Smart Support services provide technical support and financing options designed to ensure that SMBs find HP's products and integrated IT solutions are easy to own and maintain," Ogburn said. "With Smart Support, SMBs can address potential issues before they impact their business and access resources to resolve issues if they occur."

HP's four new Smart Support services, available in North America this week, include:

  • Proactive Plus for SMBs: This program provides comprehensive software support services for Microsoft business environments based on HP industry-standard servers, such as its new ProLiant 100 series. Proactive Plus services include server health checks, pre-failure notifications, and around-the-clock technical support.

  • HP Learning Curve: This program provides expert, single-source training for HP and multi-vendor products with unlimited access to an IT specialist for a year for just $149. This training and service pack provides SMB customers with access to training courses on 1,600 applications and products. Whether applications are troublesome or business skills need some tweaking, HP's Learning Curve provides access to specific IT issues via live chat sessions with IT experts.

  • ProLiant SystemMinder Solution: Designed specifically for SMBs with limited IT staff, this new HP service is designed to reduce overall server management costs. HP provides server administration, remote system monitoring, general system maintenance, and operating system security patching services to optimize and secure the entire IT environment for SMBs.

  • IT Professional Help Desk: Again, specifically designed for SMBs, this support program provides level-two and level-three assistance on hardware and software issues. It's an affordable support solution for HP's SMB customers that have limited IT resources in-house.

"Our SMB customers around the world tell us that productivity, reliability and affordability are the three issues that matter most to them when it comes to their IT," Ogburn said. "We're simply making it easier for SMBs to own and manage our IT solutions."

Easy IT Ownership
Speaking of affordability, HP has also extended its "Smart Finance" offers to include a full suite of lifecycle management programs tailored for SMBs. Ogburn said the new Smart Finance programs make it easier for smaller businesses to acquire, manage and retire HP's IT solutions. New offers in the U.S. include free Advantage Protection Plus programs and an extension of HP's zero-percent leasing rates.

For a limited time, SMB transactions of $25K or more will be eligible for free Advantage Protection Plus coverage. This includes replacement for all leased products — lost, stolen, or damaged — at no charge.

Furthermore, HP Financial Services is extending the popular zero-percent lease rate program on a short-term financing plans through July 31, 2004. Qualifying SMBs can combine hardware, software and service purchases into one transaction and tap into low monthly payment options. Other Smart Finance programs are available for trade-ins and trade-ups, along with complete product lifecycle management services that include recycling PCs, notebooks, and servers.

In Partnership with SMBs
This week in Los Angeles, HP will continue to build upon its partner community of value-added resellers and systems integrators that serve the SMB market. HP intends to synch-up all of its new products and services with its business partners. Ogburn said that the key to HP's ability to reach the SMB market lies with its partners.

"It's really important that we continue to grow our Partner One unified support network," Ogburn said. "It's our way to empower local value-added resellers to deliver IT products, support, and services from HP. Our Partner One group is almost like a sub-contractor network, allowing us to serve direct-rejecter small businesses — those small businesses that only buy locally through a trusted partner, rather than direct from the manufacturer."

If SMBs want more help in making smart IT decisions, HP's business partners can provide a competitive advantage in the vendor's ability to reach out to SMBs. Ogburn said HP stands alone in the way it is coming to market with new products and services for SMBs as delivered by its channel partners.

"Relaying HP's expertise in IT products and services to smaller businesses is a clear differentiator for us in serving the SMB space," Ogburn said. "Some vendors focus only on certain market segments, specifically the mid-market, while others only focus on specific vertical industries. But we're ready to really every help small business, including those with 100 employees or less, operating in any industry. HP is going to offer to the SMB market what it's asking for — smart systems that build better IT solutions."

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This article was originally published on March 22, 2004
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