Printing Goes Green

HP's Alberto Bozzo talks to us about what his company's new solutions and being Green means for the region

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By  Quintin Smith Published  April 21, 2008

Alberto Bozzo, HP's Vice President and General Manager of SMB, IPG EMEA, sat down with us at the company's recent event in Budapest last month.

Regarding this new 'Green Printing' for small and medium sized businesses. Is that something more than just saving on ink and energy? Is there an ecological consciousness behind that choice?

Well, you've named half of it. Green printing is about energy saving on two fronts. The first one is energy saving in the product itself, and the savings there should not be underestimated. Every 12 PCs that we remove the need for is the equivalent of taking one car off the road.

But the second part of energy saving is making sure the company which produces that product is energy efficient. What is the company doing to save energy during the production process? Our program for recycling ink and toner cartridges is available in 47 countries around the world. We've recovered 197 million ink cartridges since we began that program.

And of course, now we offer services where we analyze printing infrastructure in other companies. Take 3M- they had 35,000 printers, and now they're down to 4,000. This is our green attitude. We produce products that use less energy, and we make sure you need less of these products.

The clear message here is that SMBs and enterprises are caring more and more about being green.

But are they caring about being green for the sake of nature or to save money?

I think it's a mix of the two, and I will not answer for our customers. But I will say that the kind of answer you're going to get from our smaller customers is likely to be more of a gray area, which will get more and more black as the business gets larger.

The closer you are a global company like HP, the more you are really conscious about the impact you have on the planet. We've been looking at our processes, our air conditioning, and trying to reduce it not just because it's a saving but because we're the biggest IT company in the world, and we're responsible.

A smaller businesses is more likely to simply access the reality of business itself, I think.

What would you say to SMBs in emerging markets who might not see printing as an area where they need to invest?

Well, emerging markets have emerged, I should say. So they're an area of huge interest and investment for us. SMB customers in the Middle East are really growing faster than the mature Western and European countries. And we know that the part of the Middle East that's really driving the growth is at the borderline between consumers and small companies. Big businesses are important, but the volume in the Middle East is more driven from the bottom than from the top.

In every emerging market you always have a catch-up, though. Soon the Middle East will have large businesses that use solutions, instead of just pure transactions and businesses.

So you're avoiding marketing your solutions to emerging markets until they've grown further?

No. All the solutions that we've put together for Western countries are solutions we've made available for emerging markets. Logoworks, the company that we've recently acquired, is marketing the first service they've developed in the Middle East and Africa.

And again, when you look at the economies of many Middle Eastern countries they're already quite close to Italy, or Spain, who also have this emphasis on small and medium sized businesses. So I wouldn't say we have any kind of predefined condition as to why we don't introduce products in MENA.

One thing I will say is that in developing countries, especially Eastern Europe, they squeeze more use out of the printer. They squeeze the printer until it screams.

The response from large customers who've used your print management services has mentioned that while it's saved them millions, it's not something that would benefit SMBs. Would you like to comment on that?

To some extent, that's true. When we're dealing with very large customers, like maybe the public sector, who don't even know how many printers they have or how much toner they use, our management services have been working very well.

What we do in the SMB sector is more or less the same approach, but it's more pre-packaged and less flexible. It's called Smart Print Services. It's a 1 year old program that has the same concept. Say you have 5 printers, 2 photocopiers and 2 scanners. Our partners will be able to say "Okay, I'll take this out, replace it with new equipment from HP, and then you pay as you use it."

In our experience there are less surprises on the SMB side than on the global side, so there's less need for flexibility. After installing Smart Print Services the savings will be immediately obvious and there's no need for IT expertise.

In the Middle East many businesses are expanding without necessarily having prior experience- is there a new service in HP's portfolio to help smooth the growth of a company's printing infrastructure?

We need to make a distinction between what HP can do directly with companies that are very large already and those that aren't. With large companies we can interact directly with our sales force, our technical expertise, our assessment of the situation, and then we can recommend solutions.

With SMBs that want to make the jump to becoming big businesses or even operating on an international level, our partners intervene and act on our behalf. In both cases we can interact, but there are differing levels of accountability.

You recently announced that you were reducing the cost of laser printing in certain cases by up to 50%. Epson announced almost the same message recently- what makes the HP offering unique?

Our customers will decide if it's unique or not. We're currently the leader in inkjet printers by far, and for every 4 or 5 printers we sell someone else sells 1 or 2.

We took the initiative to lower the cost of printing pages. The leader of the market took the initiative to move. The others are just reacting and following.

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