Hewlett-Packard is making small business a new priority with the introductions of twelve new products and services aimed at companies with less than 100 employees. It's an attractive target that has traditionally been hard to reach, but may now be more ripe for the picking. Technology costs are coming down, more people are computer and Internet savvy and the devices are becoming somewhat easier to use.
In the U.S. over half the employment is in small businesses and employment in that sector accounts for upwards of 60 percent of net new jobs, according to the Small Business Administration. Worldwide spending on IT for the SMB market in 2006 was $468 billion and is projected to reach $631 billion in 2009, according to the AMI Global Market Model.
HP generates about one-third of its business among small- and medium-size business companies, and was the worldwide market leader in unit shipments in the combined PC, server, and hard copy peripherals markets for SMB in 2006, according to IDC.
"Most companies have a 1990's approach to small business, driven by large enterprise needs, requiring in-house technical skills," said Satjiv Chahil, senior vice president of worldwide marketing for the Personal Systems Group at HP. "We don’t want to make wine makers into techies but to make them profitable and good winemakers."
"As we looked at the market more closely, it was inappropriate to group it as one. The natural division is based on size and whether they have IT expertise within. Ones that have IT support and expertise take on more attributes of large companies, and they need a different focus, usually more vertical. The smaller companies are more like consumers, which puts HP in a better position than other suppliers, given our breadth of products and services. We looked at all the needs and we are stepping up with tailored products for small business."
The product set ranges from PCs and point-of-sale systems optimized for small business users to a Web site and free and fee-based support services.
The HP Total Care Advisor (above) is one of the highlights of small business offering It provides an interactive dashboard on commercial PCs for accessing critical information about the PC. A new feature, Easy Printer Care Software 2.2, sends out proactive alerts to deal with printing problems and generates printer usage reports for timely reordering of those costly consumables. The Total Care Advisor can manage up to 15 LaserJet or multi-function printers from a single desktop. It also receives alerts from HP Updates, HP Health Check, and reminders about warranty and registration.
The desktop and notebook systems aimed at small business customers include built-in mobile broadband, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and the company offers optional services for disaster recovery. The product set also includes HP StorageWorks Media Vault Pro (available May 15) for media storage and sharing and the HP ProLiant ML115 entry-level server. In addition, the HP rp5700 Point of Sale System with Microsoft Dyanmics Point of Sale 2.0 is part of the small business solution set.
HP is making the products easy to acquire, with a 27-month, zero-percent leasing rate through April 30, 2007, and rebates on the HP Care Pack for some systems.