HP eyes up pot of e-services gold

Calling his company's strategy the "revolutionary approach" to a Net-enabled future, Hewlett Packard's general manager of Enterprise Computing for EMEA, Peter Van Der Fluit told delegates at the IDC e-commerce forum in Monaco that e-services would make them rich.Now all they have to do, is get their heads around a world where services are more important than the actual products being sold.

Calling his company's strategy the "revolutionary approach" to a Net-enabled future, Hewlett Packard's general manager of Enterprise Computing for EMEA, Peter Van Der Fluit told delegates at the IDC e-commerce forum in Monaco that e-services would make them rich.

Now all they have to do, is get their heads around a world where services are more important than the actual products being sold. "Chapter 2 is coming" said Van Der Fluit who painted a picture of a world dominated by massively interconnected Web portals that communicate not only with the content providers who make up the sites, but also the companies and services those providers rely on to get customers what they want.

"We will see organisations coming together to provide not only content, but ways to ensure the user is automatically informed of changes in circumstance", said Van Der Fluit without once mentioning Jini. The latter is a technology designed to allow peripherals such as phones and PDAs to communicate with one another.

Using an air plane delay as an example, Van Der Fluit illustrated how a portal devoted to travel could work with other providers to accommodate delays. "If your plane is late, the airline will automatically inform the restaurant and your hotel" says Van Der Fluit.

These next generation portals are intended to act as virtual shopping malls and much more. Once a user decides which site to use to book, for instance an airline ticket, not only will that portal provide a swift, painless means of booking the actual ticket, but it will also communicate that transaction to the other content providers on the portal giving them an opportunity for a transaction. If something goes wrong, as with the late plane, all the portal providers involved with that customer will be advised.

Van Der Fluit said Hewlett Packard is working towards this new business model which has meant a whole new business paradigm for HP itself.

Citing the work HP has done with the world's largest procurement site Ariba.com, he said HP didn't earn a penny from providing the systems and tools to set Ariba up. Instead it earns a percentage cut from all the transactions that happen on that site.

"This is a new model" says Van Der Fluit "and it's going to take some mental gymnastics from companies to understand what is going on."

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