Ten minutes with… Francesco Serafini

Francesco Serafini, senior vice president and general manager for HP's Technology Solutions Group in EMEA talks strategy.

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By  Imthishan Giado Published  June 28, 2008

Francesco Serafini, senior vice president and general manager for HP's Technology Solutions Group in EMEA talks strategy.

What are HP's plans to stay ahead in EMEA and the Middle East in particular - do you have an enterprise-specific strategy?

Francesco Serafini: In the Middle East, we made an acquisition ust a few months ago to expand our competency services, so now we are probably the biggest IT company in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East.

In terms of overall business we are also very large - so we will continue to invest and the reason for that is that we believe there is a lot of opportunity.

If you look, for example, at the standard type of industry which we focus on in other parts of the world like telecoms and banking, there is a lot of investment going on today - particularly in government infrastructure. More specifically in the Middle East, there has been tremendous development in two industry types.

One is logistics and transportation - there is a lot of this going on in Dubai with Dubai World, and it's also now starting to be very big in Saudi.

Then you look at the approach of what we can call the ‘new city' both in Saudi and the Emirates.

They have different objectives but if you think about it, the request for IT connected to that is tremendous - not only for datacentres but including PCs, appliances or how to manage the buildings and the environment. This is why we are very focused on this geographic area.

Will HP's new push for datacentre consolidation affect its Middle East strategy?

This is my personal view at the moment but when you talk about these new cities coming up and look at the development, what Saudi Arabia is trying to achieve is different from that of the Emirates.

If you look to Saudi development cities, they will need datacentres to manage a combination of enterprise development, their factories, logistics and so on. Take Dubai World - they have a huge need for datacentres.

You need to put this into perspective - it's not tomorrow morning. In the next two or three years, you will see a lot of development.

How much does the Middle East enterprise market contribute to HP's global bottom line?

We don't disclose the revenues so the bottom line will be more difficult. What I can say is that if you take EMEA and you position it in the emerging market geography, this area is strongly contributing to overall growth.

We give this data worldwide to be about 25% to 30%. What I expect is that the contribution coming from the Middle East in the coming years will be very large.

However, you need to understand this growth, which has been measured to be at least three or four times more than we have in Western Europe. If you continue to have this growth, the next step will be that the contribution to the total business will go up.

How are enterprises developing in the Middle East as opposed to Western markets - are they evolving on the same lines?

There are three dimensions. First, if you look at enterprises around the world, many are moving investment into emerging markets.

You see a lot of investment in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa coming from Europe, the US or from Asia - China and India are very active in the southern part of the world such as Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

The other dimension is that companies that work in this geography do two things. They invest in themselves to be competitive and attract investment, but I have also observed that they have started moving outside their geography and begun acquiring other companies or making business in a different geography.

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