HP Goes All-In on Workflow at HP Discover

by Raegen Pietrucha | 6/19/13
Although the word itself was not often used, one of the main focal points of Hewlett-Packard’s Discover conference in Las Vegas last week (June 10-13) was workflow. And HP considers itself well positioned for the transition most offices are beginning to make (if not already entrenched in) from paper to electronic document management.

“With our background in printing and new, innovative mobile printing solutions, no company is more capable of bridging the physical and digital worlds,” said HP CEO Meg Whitman during her keynote.

It’s not just the company’s history, however, that will allow it to play in this arena. Both brand-new and recently refreshed offerings from the company reflect the OEM’s responses to today’s most pressing trends, such as information digitization, mobility, cloud-based computing, security and even the generational shift in the workplace looming on the horizon.

“For the first time, within the next five years, we’re going to have employees in the workplace with very different levels of digital culture, digital knowledge,” said Enrique Lores, senior vice president, sales and services at HP. “(The) expectation from this new generation of employees is that they will be able to do the same work from the office, from home, from the Starbucks … or from the train. … They want to get access to all their data … and this will be driving significant changes in how IT needs to work and how IT needs to build their environments.”

HP has chosen to address these demands through a number of solutions and updates it announced at the show, thereby providing the means for on-ramping, routing, securing and distributing information in the ever-evolving workplace. HP Flow CM, the cloud-based content management offering complemented by the OEM’s Flow MFP line, now works with several LaserJet Pro and Officejet Pro models – new and old alike. Flow CM has also been updated to include both in-motion and at-rest data encryption to allow for a safer exchange of content across devices.

And lest we forget about the print aspect of workflow, HP has updated its mobile printing application; ePrint Enterprise 2.2 version features Good Technology’s mobile device management solutions for greater control and security over this aspect of information management. “There’s a lot of content out there that really comes across nicely on these (smartphone) screens, but there’s a lot of content that doesn’t,” said Bill Avey, vice president, Partner Managed Print Services at HP. “We’re actually unlocking pages … that people want to print.”

But perhaps the most exciting news of the day from a workflow perspective was that of HP Relate, a sort of extension of the enterprise solution HP Exstream (which allows for customizable document templates that help manage customer relationships swiftly and efficiently) into the SMB space. HP Relate automates the customer communication process by allowing workers to create document templates in Salesforce.com, optimizing this part of an office’s workflow by making the process of interacting with clients easier and less time-consuming.

“The idea of simplifying customer communications – particularly as a marketing tool for some of the much smaller businesses – is something that we see (as a) real opportunity,” said Aaron Weiss, director, LES Marketing at HP. But this type of document solution won’t be the last for HP. “You can look at Relate as kind of a first step for us,” he said. “We know we’re going to hit a lot of customers with Salesforce.com … and we know that there’s a large set of unmet needs in that user space, but … we (eventually) want to broaden that and extend it beyond just the Salesforce.com environment.”

This expansion into content-creation automation on the SMB level very much represents the shift HP is trying to make from traditional print provider to workflow management company.

“(We want to) not only manage (companies’) infrastructure, but we also want to improve their workflow,” said Mike Weir, vice president and general manager, managed services at HP. “We fail if we can’t come into a customer and not only do a great job of making sure their printers are up and running and fully utilized … (but also) help customers understand their current print environment and their current document management environment.”