The Hanania way

HP Middle East managing director Joseph Hanania explains the strategy that keeps the vendor in pole position.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  November 18, 2006

Customer focus|~|JOSHA200.jpg|~|HP Middle East managing director Joseph Hanania|~|HP Middle East managing director Joseph Hanania explains the strategy that keeps the vendor in pole position. GITEX TIMES: What are the main themes and messages that HP wants to get across to GITEX visitors? JOSEPH HANANIA: Every time I answer a question like that I need to put it in the context of enterprise, SME or consumer customer because the messages are different for each group. We make a point of addressing the needs of specific market segments and in the enterprise space we really drill down into key verticals such as telecoms, financial services or oil and gas. For each segment we have a specific value proposition. In the telecoms space it is all about quadruple play now — the convergence of voice, data, video and mobility. Telecoms is a key market for us and we have a number of specific solutions targeted at this vertical including operational support systems and systems management solutions. GT: Have you made significant progress in the Middle East telecoms sector during the last year and is this about more than just software for HP? JH: It is not just the software; it is the infrastructure solutions and services around it. du is now one of our largest customers and we have done a great deal of work with them. We have seen a new licence awarded in Egypt and another one coming up in Saudi Arabia next year. Deregulation of the telecoms sector usually leads to expanded economic activity and that is positive not just for HP’s business but for all other businesses. We’re working closely with du in the UAE but I can’t tell you when they are going to launch — you’ll have to ask them! GT: Are there other enterprise verticals besides telecoms showing strong growth? JH: The financial services sector is very strong. You’ve never seen profits reported by banks in the region as high as they are now. As well as the high profits the banking sector is also going through a period of consolidation as well. HP’s proposition for banks centres on the infrastructure and an ecosystem of services and IT management systems and these are resonating positively with our target customers in this sector. GT: What about below the enterprise? What are you doing to target SMEs in the Middle East? JH: For SMEs the key message is all about bundled solutions. When an SME or SMB can purchase a server bundled with a multi-function printer and some applications from Microsoft or other vendors it makes their life easier. They value ease of implementation, predictability and high-quality support. They are more focused on their business than their IT system and we have to support them in such a way that allows them to maintain this focus. Looking even further down the customer pyramid we have introduced many new products for consumers from laptops to handheld devices and digital cameras. HP is always coming up with new products and demonstrating that it is a market leader. GT: How important is customer experience to HP? Are your Middle East customers satisfied with the service, support and products they receive from HP? JH: We do measure what we call total customer experience (TCE) but the way we do this takes different forms. In the enterprise space it is an intimate one-on-one assessment involving interviews with a number of people at the end user focused on different areas of satisfaction such as product quality and service quality. Within a quarter between 15 and 20 customers are assessed this way. Outside the enterprise space we use an assessment survey. In the enterprise space the satisfaction levels are very high and when there is an issue we immediately work out how to solve it. This commitment to TCE is about creating a level of expectation with the customers that we want them to hold us accountable to. GT: HP now has approximately 700 employees in the Middle East. Is it easy to manage such a large team? JH: The reason for our success is that HP is not just managed by one person. We have a high level of focus and I would argue that many of our internal systems are more sophisticated and advanced than many other companies in our industry. We do have a very wide portfolio of products and that means that the managers need to find ways to work effectively with each other. As you focus and zoom in on a particular area you are going to do a better job but you also need to keep the communication lines open with the rest of the organisation. The culture of HP is such that we are highly specialised and focused but at the same time we are setting the standard for how intra-company communication should occur.||**||Local presence|~|hplaptopgtx200.jpg|~|HP is showcasing its entire portfolio including notebooks at this week's GITEX|~|GT: How important is in-country presence and local touch to HP’s success in the Middle East market? JH: It is very important for all the business groups and each market segment requires local engagement. We have completed acquisitions in Bahrain and Kuwait in the services space to strengthen our local presence. Now that we have a local services presence we are obviously going to leverage that to start selling the rest of the portfolio as well. I think that I have a slight advantage inasmuch as I have lived in the region for 11 years now. It is a great exercise to look back and see what we have achieved as a company. We have executed against our commitment to the market, increased our presence and we actually did this because of the encouragement from our customers. GT: HP has been performing strongly since Mark Hurd became the global boss. Can you talk us through the influence that his leadership has had? JH: I think it is execution more than anything else. He has focused on simplification and execution and they go hand-in-hand. I believe that HP has the right mix of people, values and strategy. And I think that Mark Hurd is only just getting started. Wall Street likes what it sees and the customers like it and HP is seeing the rewards. GT: There will be hundreds of new vendors at GITEX this year keen to enter the Middle East market. What is your advice to them? JH: I think they need to realise that Dubai is a great place to be in order to target the Middle East market. When you go through an economic expansion at the rate that Dubai has — and I congratulate Dubai on what has been achieved — it is never an easy undertaking. Economic expansion brings challenges and there are areas that need to evolve. The cost of locating in Dubai continues to rise but for me the advancement of commercial laws remains the biggest single challenge. There has been a definite improvement in laws in areas such as real estate and financial markets and this evolution must continue. GT: How do you assess the performance of the individual business units within HP? JH: Anil Gandhi and the PSG team have performed very well. We always look at that unit in terms of market share growth and assess what the competition is doing. We are number one in most categories and the market share is healthy. If you look at the worldwide results for PSG you see improved margin, better quality and a more efficient supply chain. For Amr Hassan and the IPG team the performance has also been strong but they have a different set of challenges. When you are number one with more than 50% market share there is a big bullseye on your back that rivals are aiming at. It is much easier for a smaller company to go from 5% to 10% market share than it is for the leader to go from 50% to 60%. The fact that we are still growing market share shows that we are doing the right things. GT: Which countries are you most excited about in the region and where will HP’s growth stem from? JH: Abu Dhabi is now following what Dubai has done in terms of investing in IT and that is very exciting. Saudi Arabia remains almost 40% of the entire Middle East IT market and I think that will stay the case because of the number of massive projects that have been announced in the Kingdom too. You also cannot discount how rapidly the market is growing in Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. I think that HP’s software business will see solid growth moving forward. You just need to see the scale of acquisitions that we have made in this space to understand HP’s commitment. We don’t just want to be the leader in systems management but also in applications management, which is what the Mercury Interactive buy gives us. GT: Is there a technology lag between the Middle East and more mature markets in the world? JH: I would have to say no. In fact there may even now be a technology lead in the Middle East. I do not see technology that is available somewhere else in a commercial fashion not being available in the Middle East. If you take a telecoms company in Western Europe they may already have systems in place and could be operating in a very stable market. They will not update their systems unless it is absolutely necessary. Here we have new telecoms operators such as du that are deploying the latest and greatest solutions. That is technology leadership not technology lag. ||**||

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