HP Spices Up Printing With A Dash Of Autonomy

Although news of an HP printer/Autonomy search software bundle first surfaced back in February, it’s now official: the company’s new Officejet Pro and LaserJet printers are debuting along with content management solutions that will start shipping on November 1. The controversial decision to acquire the British software company for $12 billion last year was largely credited with costing Leo Apotheker the HP CEO position a month before the deal was closed, and many have been waiting to see what comes next.

It appears printing, or at least document management, is the answer. The vast majority of costs associated with printing management is in document management, not hardware and consumables, said HP’s Mike Weir, VP LaserJet. Accounting for 90% of costs, this is a big area of concern for governments and large organizations, and while there are other document management solutions available, HP has “added much tighter integration into Autonomy capabilities and added a sophisticated scanning capability” that enable managing a fleet of printers – securely – from a single pane of glass, he said.

Based on Autonomy software, the HP Flow CM Enterprise is a set of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) offerings for large organizations, while HP Flow CM Professional brings enterprise-class content management to growing businesses. “We think we’re opening up a whole new set of customers for Autonomy,” said Weir, “taking lot of the functionality and turnkeying and applying it to the midmarket.”

This addresses two of the biggest issues facing organizations today, he added. “We’re enabling mobility and consumerization in a different dimension, making data available everywhere, including a printer.” Add in a cloud-based capability, and Weir said “think of it as digital filing cabinet in the cloud.”

While Dinesh Srirangpatna, a Research Manager with IDC’s U.S. Hardcopy Usage program, said 75% of the document cost exists in the workflow, “this is a significant pain point when you are a user of paper-based workflows.” There are multiple solutions available that integrate multi-function printers (MFPs) and content management/cloud repositories – i.e. Xerox DocuShare, Canon eCopy ShareScan, Alfresco, EMC, Laserfiche, IBM, OpenText, Oracle – but they require professional services, integrations between multiple partners at times.

“With HP, the devices have been designed from the ground up to manage these integrations. Consequently, the integration is much easier and simpler to use. The design of the software solution – CM flow professional (SMB) makes it easy to leverage high-end enterprise capability.” The design of the CM flow Enterprise is modular and can be scaled from workgroup to Enterprise, he added.

The market in SMB is large, and the big barrier has been cost of solutions, professional services, integration services, said Srirangpatna. “Conversion of capex to opex (cloud) will help sell the solution and minimize the risk. The simplicity of use and pricing will be the determining factors.”

These announcements are significant for the enterprise market, said Keith Kmetz, Vice President of IDC’s Hardcopy Peripherals Solutions and Services programs. “It ties in paper solutions (MFPs) with digital solutions (Autonomy, security, document management). As an enterprise, the offering goes beyond the latest HP LaserJet printer introduction and provides solutions that help the enterprise better manage their increasing volume of every-day business information (paper and digital). It includes print, but spans a much broader opportunity that is more tightly integrated with technologies that facilitate more efficient business processing.”

Together with HP’s channel, these solutions will help expand the Autonomy market. “We expect that HP will make Autonomy available at various levels to provide for the content/document management needs of its broad range of customers. This won’t happen overnight, but it’s a capability that many smaller-sized companies may not have had access to in the past.”

The impact could be significant, said Kmetz, if HP’s sales channels – direct and indirect – can effectively communicate the value-add provided by this capability. “Success will come from execution.”

Neither analyst believes the current financial and management issues troubling HP – flat to declining revenues, massive writedowns and extensive layoffs – will have an impact on these announcements. “HP is still strong financially and still has mind share/leadership in the document industry,” said Srirangpatna. “So, the overall woes should not affect the business opportunities.

“It’s a concern, but HP is a well-established technology provider to the enterprise,” said Kmetz. “Additionally, many companies have found success after a period of trouble.”

The company’s print legacy, practically a de facto standard for laser printing, and leadership gives them an enviable position to start from, he said. “Also, HP is able to leverage technologies from outside of the traditional print market designed to drive growth and value-add for its customers.” The maturity of the conventional print market is apparent so HP is making some transformational moves in this announcement to secure its long-standing leadership in this market, “but it is also positioning itself well for the broader reinvented print and imaging opportunity.”

As for the printer portion of the announcement, there are six new devices, capture-optimized MFPs that enable accurate digitization and retrieval of documents, said Photizo Group, a research and consulting firm focused on the imaging industry. The Color flow MFP M575c and flow MFP M525c both have single-pass duplex scanners, extended life automatic document feeders (ADFs), integrated keyboard, on-board OCRs, Scan to SharePoint, and HP EveryPage. HP EveryPage guarantees every page via ultrasonic double-feed detection.

The Officejet Pro X Series desktop printers and MFPs powered by HP PageWide Technology, deliver up to twice the speed – up to 70 pages per minute – at up to half the printing cost compared with color laser printers in its class, said HP. There are two new series of LaserJet Pro printers for SMBs, new and enhanced document workflow solutions, greater access to print from cloud-based applications, incorporating Google Apps mailboxes support through its HP ePrint Enterprise. HP Exstream LiveSite Connector and HP Claims Correspondence 2.0 are intended to improve workflow across print and electronic channels.

HP believes this announcement significantly expands the addressable market for Autonomy into SMBs and departments of larger organizations, said Photizo Group. ‘As long as HP can clearly define the benefits of flow CM Professional for organizations of this size, its new product will succeed in this market. It’s a no-brainer for its flow CM Enterprise solution for enterprise or large corporations. It makes sense to implement an ECM solution, however SMBs have a different set of IT priorities. How well HP markets the advantages of this cloud-based solution to gain the attention of SMBs will determine how quickly its solution will be accepted. The time frame will likely be 12 to 24 months, as long as HP channel partners can gain experience with the solution and are able to demonstrate its benefits.’


Author: Steve Wexler

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