What can you tell us about the investments made by your company in Romania?
Romania has always been an important country for HP, in terms of investments, and the various types of investments it made here had a significant contribution to the development of the local economic environment. Moreover, for HP, during the last years Romania has become a priority country for investments.
HP Romania is the top provider of products and services for the IT market and the foremost investor and employer in this field, with approximately 3,600 employees. Part of these are committed to the commercial activities of the company at country scale, through the divisions HP Enterprise (servers, storage and networking hardware, solutions and services for organisations of any size), HP Imaging and Printing Group (printing equipment, solutions and services) and HP Personal Systems Group (computers and accessories). The large majority of employees are employed by HP GeBOC, the Global Service Center operated by the company in Bucharest, which is the biggest centre for shared services in Romania, but some also work in other towns, such as the development centre of Cluj or the offices in Iasi, Sibiu, Targu Mures.
What impact did recession have upon the IT industry? How did customers react, in both private and public sectors? What kinds of products did they concentrate upon?
In general, most customers consider cutting costs as priority, but the increase of performance is even more important. In order to stay profitable or range within tighter budget limits, both private and public sectors are moving along these main two directions. Especially through its consulting department, HP provides complete and personalised solutions aimed at improving the performance of IT systems and significantly cutting expenses in the public sector. Of late, new and very efficient technologies appeared, such as Cloud Computing (infrastructure as a service, software as a service or platform as a service), or the consolidation of applications or infrastructure, which are strong instruments that make possible reaching the profitability targets of the business.
How would you describe the Romanian market at the present moment? What are the differences, compared to pre-crisis years?
We noticed an increase of demand in the private sector, during 2011, which laid the basis for developing projects in the public sector. The projects financed with European money stimulated the market, in the absence of funds from the state budget.
The companies which understood that they can achieve development only by increasing the business performance of their customers have resisted and evolved. Our main goal is to become the strategic partner of our customer, be it public institution or private company, to understand its main objectives and provide the optimal solution that will facilitate meeting these goals.
By this type of approach, the customer benefits from a solution adapted to its business needs, as well as to its possibilities of investment.
What is the share held by the contracts with the public sector in the total turnover of HP Enterprise?
The enterprise solutions department of HP Romania (Enterprise Services) experienced an exponential development over the last 5 years, especially due to the company being involved, as direct partner, in contracts with the private or public sector. This new strategy, enforced at global scale, allows HP Romania to make significant investments, especially in the area of qualified IT resources. The share is balanced, as both the public and the private sector have a trustworthy partner in HP Romania. I estimate that the public sector accounts for about 20-25 pc of the total turnover.
Which of the public sectors were most active in terms of acquisitions during 2011, and what categories of IT products or services have been most in demand?
HP is leader on the segment of IT solutions for the health sector, both globally and in Romania. At local scale, we successfully finalised the implementation of the IT system in CNAS (the public health insurance system) – a project that was awarded in 2011, by IPMA (International Project Management Association), with the third place in the ‘Big Projects’ category, out of more than 1,000 projects from the entire world.
Due to its permanent efforts aimed at cutting costs and increasing the quality of services provided to the contributors of the public health insurance system, I estimate that one of the most dynamic sectors in 2011 was that of health insurances.
In general, I noticed a permanent effort made by the majority of public institutions to manage their budgets the most efficient way, same as the resources available at this moment.
We answered this need for efficiency mainly through solutions that belong to the sector of enterprise services, which also imply the use of other infrastructure components part of our portfolio.
Now, for something of real interest at this moment. What is the role of European money in the acquisition of technology for the private sector? Do public institutions access such funds in order to invest them in infrastructure?
European money represents the main growth driver for the IT market of Romania. Infrastructure investments are lower, and customers are interested by complex projects meant to increase the efficiency and quality of services provided to citizens, so they are the undisputable end beneficiaries of investments. The rate at which these funds are absorbed depends on a series of factors, such as the local IT companies that participate in public auctions.
We try to support state institutions build IT solutions with European financing, which will allow them to increase productivity, automate their operations and increase the transparency in the relation with citizens.
Authorities have been trying, for many years, to digitalise the public sector. What do you think are the main setbacks that prevented them from completing this process sooner? What solutions do you see for a modern and – above all – functional public system?
The digitalisation of the public sector is a complex process, which needs much time and effort before being finalised. It must rely on standards, and success equally depends on provider and beneficiary. Furthermore, it is a continuous process that must be adapted to the new realities, such as economic situation, changes of legislation, integration in the European structures etc.
Considering the frequent changes of the law on public acquisitions and the fact that a public auction is a long process that can take as much as 6 months, such projects are particularly difficult to implement.
What do you think will be the main area of interest for public institutions, regarding the IT sector, in 2012? For example, investments in infrastructure, software, services etc.?
The main objectives of public institutions – and not only theirs – are cost control, modernisation, increasing the productivity and efficiency of operations.
Through its extremely vast portfolio of products and services, plus a department specialised in financing projects from own resources, HP actively supports public and private institutions meeting these goals.
Investments in infrastructure or software are not an option anymore, I think. I believe that the IT market is mature enough for a concentration of budgets in the area of enterprise solutions, which are the only ones that can add extra value which, eventually, will be reflected in the services provided to citizens or customers, companies or institutions.
What trends has your company identified for 2012? What area will the company concentrate upon? How do you think the rate of IT acquisitions by the public sector will evolve this year?
We see a wish of public and private companies to work directly with the big integrators and manufacturers of hardware. This secures direct access to state-of-the-art technology, best quality services and competitive prices.
At the same time, we want to actively participate in the development of IT solutions for the private, as well as the public sector, by delivering turnkey projects with financing provided by HP.
We are also interested to get involved in public-private partnerships aimed at addressing real problems without financial effort from the state budget.
What are the new market segments the company would want to enter at this moment?
There is a focus especially on the new technologies in which HP has a major competitive advantage. Here, I would mention the sectors of networking technologies, IT security – an area where HP made a series of very important acquisitions of late, business intelligence, and operational and process outsourcing.
Add to this the traditional business of HP, which comprises servers, data storage equipment, support services and IT solutions, where HP has been a market leader these years.
Which of the HP segments has an absolute lead at this moment? What would be the balance for 2012?
HP ranks 1st or 2nd on all market segments it operates in, both globally and in Romania. In 2011, we achieved noteworthy results in complex projects that covered the whole portfolio of products, solutions and services of the company, along with equally good results in the distribution and SME segments.
These results confirm the upward trend of HP Romania on the local market and represent a sound basis for an increase of the volume and complexity of operations in 2012.