today launched its Smart Office initiative, a $750 million dollar program meant to empower small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) with technology from printing (HP’s specialty) on up. Part of that initiative is the Mobility Now program, which HP hopes it can use to bring wireless to small offices, particularly those lacking an IT staff of their own.
Richard Stone, wireless & mobility solutions manager at HP, says Mobility Now consists of three solutions with the monikers of Mobilize Your Data, Mobilize Your Office, and Escape Your Office.
“What we’re offering small and medium businesses is a complete end-to-end solution,” says Stone. “Many SMBs have what I call the Three C’s Problem: cost, complexity, and compromise. They think wireless is expensive, that it’s complex, and that it has been compromised in an attempt to make it simple enough for any users. We’re focused on saying it’s affordable, it’s not complex, and just as importantly, it’s the same solution a Fortune top ten company would use.”
The first program, Mobilize Your Data, is specifically meant to outfit customers with HP iPAQ Pocket PCs, laptops and other mobile hardware, so they can take data on the road. As part of the Mobility Now launch, they’re selling iPAQ h2210s units where you buy 10 and get one free (worth $399), until October 17.
The Mobilize Your Office program is for setting up a wireless LAN. Stone says that to start, the program will offer hardware from Cisco. There were some HP ProCurve products they wanted to use that were not announced yet; those products will be integrated into the program at a later date.
“We have a great relationship with Cisco; they’re number one in wireless in the world and they can offer all the products and components we want,” says Stone. The Cisco products will continue to be offered even when the HP ProCurve units are available.
The final program, Escape your office, is for wireless WAN connections back to e-mail, specifically for offices with Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes e-mail systems. End users with wireless products running clients like a Sierra cellular card would hook through a server setup by HP’s partner, PDA synchronization company Extended Systems, to access corporate e-mail securely. The 10 pack for use of Extended System’s OneBridge Mobile Data Suite purchased through HP’s Web site is $2,150, not counting the additional hardware HP might need to set up to run it.
SMBs interested in the Mobility Now program can get started by experimenting with what they think they need at HP’s online ‘configurator,’ www.hp.com/go/MobilitySolutionsCenter.
To get started, Stone says businesses should use the configurator to make choice on what they want, or use it to be pointed toward suggestions based on their users, devices, and needs. At the end, a bill of materials (BOM) is generated that can be used as a starting point as the company speaks with the HP Mobility Solutions Center.
HP’s PartnerOne network of system integrators could take over for the installation process, or HP could do that itself — that’s left up to the customer.
In terms of cost, it’s going to be different for every configuration, but Stone says their calculations show that a five users system using a WLAN through the program would cost $11 per month per user; the Escape Your Office program using cellular networks would cost $47 per month per user plus airtime charges. Both of those prices are calculated based on financing for 26 months, which Stone pointed out, is interest free, through HP Financial Services.
Stone admits that if a company has an existing WLAN, “they probably don’t need the Mobilize Your Office program, but there’s a significant percentage of SMBs without WLANs today. This is aimed at the typical business already up and running… looking to leverage things with wireless.”