Cloud is redefining business for IPG India

Cloud is redefining business for IPG India

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HP is betting heavily on its cloud services. Mahesh Soni, Country Manager, Design Business – GSB, IPG India, tells us why e-printing is fast catching up in India and how it is likely to revolutionise the printing business…

Mahesh Soni
Mahesh Soni
Country Manager
Design Business – GSB
IPG India, HP

HP is betting heavily on its cloud services. Mahesh Soni, Country Manager, Design Business – GSB, IPG India, tells us why e-printing is fast catching up in India and how it is likely to revolutionise the printing business…

Can you tell us about the activities of HP’s Imaging and Printing Group (IPG)?
HP caters to nearly 86 per cent of the total print volumes in the industry. Statistically, it’s very high. But when we explore it from a perspective of richness of solutions, it’s beyond our imagination – from billboard to a signage to anything which can be printed – that’s the kind of portfolio which we manage. Our portfolio of solutions starts from A3 media to 16 inches. We cater to a varied kind of printing requirements which is spanning across the media and is beyond paper, that is, flexes, vinyls, durable, non-durable, etc.

What kind of printing solutions do you have specific to geospatial domain?
When we look at geospatial community, there are a couple of things which are very integral to this customer segment. One, things in this domain are larger, wider, longer and bigger. Second, accuracy is very important. HP’s portfolio revolves around these two things along with the current trend of cloud which we have been talking about in the last couple of years. I think the cloud has gained momentum over time and is coming to the centerstage. We have the widest portfolio when we look at the geospatial community in terms of offerings of products and their capabilities. Our range of products varies depending on the kind of volumes people need and the kind of quality they require, that is, starting from a general quality to high quality graphics. When we talk about satellite imagery which is linked with seismic zone – it’s the colours which define the seismic impact – our portfolio takes into account colour consistency, colour gamet, and so on. When we talk about accuracies, we offer up to 0.1 per cent line accuracy. So technologies are behind ink, the production, print heads and the speed. Today, we are fastest even from the perspective of speed. The latest trend is cloud. I am sure it’s catching up. Ten years ago, we used to convert data but we no longer do that. Now, it’s like proliferation of data – it’s getting consumed in a particular manner and that consumption pattern is catching up in two ways. One, what you download or what you can have as a customised download. Second, what you do not download. We have solutions around those kind of offerings and applications for customers.

How are you making it relevant for the geospatial domain?
We are making it relevant on many grounds. First, from the perspective of a customer’s requirement. We print millions and trillions of pages, but how relevant is this printing? How can HP support printing on demand? One way is through cloud services. They really give you the kind of flexibility wherein you can print on demand, share and collaborate. With the e-print and share devices that we have in HP portfolio today, one can get something like 5GB of space free on the cloud, which is good enough.

You are essentially hosting the data on the cloud…
We are essentially giving an option to customer to host data if he wants – it’s his choice because this is his repository. It is like a library for him. It depends on him whether he wants to host his data there or simply upload it. We are giving him an option. This facility comes with HP’s backend integration of all security levels which are required, and we have clearly defined parameters for it. However, the intention is to encourage print on demand. One way of doing it is by sending mails or by junking the entire system out there. This is something which is more holistic, much more professional because you get a kind of library wherein you can view things. Today, a ten-year-old record might not exist. But if it’s uploaded, people would be able to refer to it even after years. We are currently working on these lines. From the perspective of GIS community, the relevance that we bring in due to our capabilities vis-a-vis accuracy, speed or production, contribute to the work environment on day-in and day-out basis. We talk about government projects in the industry, investments which are happening for infrastructure or town and country planning, the land records, etc., everything is moving and mobilising itself on a large format.

When we are talking about cloud, nowadays, there are less hard copies to print because most of the data is being distributed or rather shared on cloud. They have less chances or rather necessity to print data. How are you trying to push forward the cloud services in this context?
We estimate that with the cloud getting integrated, the print volumes are coming down. But that’s not the case. The print volumes are increasing, the digital publishing market today is growing by leaps and bounds – we are talking about 25-26 per cent growth. Today, we are posed for nearly 14 billion dollar. One year down, we are looking at 17 billion dollar market opportunity. It’s pretty interesting.

I think, in past, people may have been printing irrelevant data. But that’s changing now. If we look at how people work in cloud, we find that the information uploaded is primarily the one they need for printing. Also, earlier, this information was available to one person only. But on a collaborative platform, the same information can be accessed by 20 different people who are stakeholders. It’s not about promoting prints, it’s about using that information.

When we talk about geospatial community and the requirements of land, etc., you need print-out. You cannot work on a computer screen of X-size since you need to do a lot of alterations in records. The government institutions would always have a back up record, which is in black and white, a hard copy. Even the professionals would always keep their work stored in a hard copy. So printing would not decrease.

Cloud will give a more collaborative platform for people to share information, upload, download, etc. If we look at the current environment, for instance, an architect or a professional who works in a land record department or consultants who are working on various government projects, they all would carry a role of prints with them. What we have enabled is walk without prints. Since everything is posted online, you don’t need to carry print outs with you. And since all the stakeholders can network in this environment, it brings about a lot of flexibility in terms of usage, and is thus advantageous for all.

Is this the new business direction from HP?
For sure, cloud is something we would not shy away from boasting because when we look at e-print and share as a functionality, we are the ones who have really brought this. I wouldn’t talk about others but I think they are miles behind. Today, if we talk about cloud based solutions, we offer both push printing and printing on demand.

What kind of potential do you see for these kind of services in India?
If I talk about numbers, it’s pretty interesting. We have around 80 per cent share in this particular market. With this kind of lead, I am sure we can further increase our market share or retain our existing share.

From a customer’s perspective as well, it is a win-win situation. For the technology which is dying – typically these are rugged devices people normally don’t intend to change and would continue to work with despite the loss of productivity – the cloud will be a drastic change from an integration, utilisation and sharing perspective. So if HP benefits, even the customer benefits –it opens up both counts. One, HP will certainly be gaining and will be able to maintain the leadership as this is something which is offered only by us. Two, lots of opportunities which are there in the market but were not tapped till date are now in a preferent stage for HP.

Of late, HP has shifted its focus to education sector. Can you tell us about it?
IPG is all about printing and printing is all about content and knowledge. So education and training is like transfer mechanism. When you look at it from the business of HP, it is something which is going to add different angle.

We have invested big time in education and training. We have also held contests like Skyline 2020. These kind of programmes serve two purpose – they expose students to technology, and help us in promoting our brand. It is an investment from our side which also helps us understand the requirements of students. In fact, we develop our solutions/ products based on the feedback and inputs which we receive in these programmes.

HP is getting more and more involved in cities these days rather than concentrating on metros. Is that the case?
It makes a lot of sense to concentrate on Tier 2 cities. There was a time when investments and projects were limited to top 8 or 10 cities. Today, work on some manjor infrastructure projects is taking place in cities like Jaipur, Chandigarh. Projects like metros are also being planned for these cities. So the investment, in billions from the government side, is actually getting structured into the B and C class cities. Hence, it makes a lot of sense for organisations to really focus on them. It’s an opportunity.

Any specific verticals that HP is looking at in India?
One, infrastructure. Second, it is obviously linked with the entire graphics market wherein we are looking at a breakthrough solution for people. We have brought out quality, increased productivity and so on – it’s huge from the prospective of customers and applications as well.

We are focussing on graphics market – from a signage to high-quality graphics. Infrastructure is predominantly here. By infrastructure, I mean everything, even those things which are linked with government outlay plans, because all these projects will have a captivity which is an opportunity for us.

Another vertical which is very interesting to acknowledge is centralised reprographic departments across the country – you walk into any PSU today and you see a CRD. The returns are tremendous in this sector. So we are really focussing on CRDs.

What, according to you, are the upcoming trends in the printing industry, specific to geospatial domain?
One, networking is catching up. We are no longer selling non-networked devices to customers. Two, cloud enabled solutions. We have seen some interesting statistics in India in the past six months which speak about our performance strength. The market is really catching up. Another six months and these services would contribute close to 30 per cent of HP India’s overall business. It has really caught up very fast which shows that there was a requirement for this kind of services.

From a customer’s perspective, accuracy is very important. People, nowadays, demand accuracy, they test accuracy. And we need to deliver what we claim, that is, 0.01 accuracy. So these kind of things are the ones which are catching up – networking, speed, fast devices and collaborative environments.

Also, earlier, people operating these machines were paid huge money. Today, that’s not the case. Anyone can work on these devices. It’s really easy to operate them. People are looking at these simple solutions today. And HP is delivering them.