A market driven by technology change
For the European Union's newest member countries, change means investing heavily in technology - both to meet EU conditions of membership and to move towards the information society.Market data shows that this is already happening: Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have enjoyed an unprecedented boom in ICT spending in recent years while most global ICT markets experienced flat-to-negative growth.
Today, even as other technology markets show signs of recovery, CEE remains one of the world's most dynamic. This healthy trend is borne out and based on International Data Corporation's (IDC) market share data and the CEMA Black Book for 2Q06.
With a 30-year presence in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), HP claims it is the leading technology solutions provider in the CEE region. The company has in-depth knowledge of the region and sees great potential in these emerging markets.
World Bank statistics paint a thriving portrait of Bulgaria: over seven million people contributing to annual GDP growth of 5.5%, a short time required to start a business (22 days) and a very encouraging Internet density of 283 users per 1,000 citizens.
Romania, too, offers much for investors: 21 million citizens, in this case generating a yearly GDP growth of 4.1% and an almost unbelievable short start-up time for businesses of 11 days. Internet users will find a sympathetic audience - 208 users per 1,000 of population.
HP in CEE
For the past three years, HP Bulgaria has been respected as a key player in its market. HP has been present in that same market for more than 20 years through its business partners. For the last five years, in addition, HP has operated directly in Bulgaria through a fully functional subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard Co.
HP works with customers in Romania and Bulgaria - in the government, manufacturing, financial services and telecommunications sectors - to achieve the best return on IT investment. Indeed, two of HP's biggest customers are the governments of Romania and Bulgaria. Working with local partners, HP is helping them launch modern online public sector services.
As just one example, HP installed an IT infrastructure that could process national identity documents for Bulgaria in a matter of minutes, rather than weeks, allowing visa-free travel to the European Union before accession. The Bulgarian Government recently embarked on an ambitious four-point plan to bring IT to all the country?s schools through a nationwide education network; HP is playing a central role in the project, which will benefit a million children.
In Romania, HP is supplying the Ministry of Education with hardware infrastructure and application software for schools throughout the whole country. HP's e-procurement solution for the Romanian Ministry of IT saved an estimated US$80 million in its first year of operation alone as 200,000 public tenders were channelled through the system. An HP software application, tailored to the specific functional needs of Romania's National Health Insurance House, will facilitate the management of insurance budgets, information and medical services, ultimately benefiting the country's 22 million inhabitants.
In the private sector in both countries HP works with a strong network of local partners in multiple markets, including financial services, telecoms, energy and retail. Mobitel, the largest GSM operator in Bulgaria, turned to HP for a real-time billing system that can be scaled as the business dictates, reducing its total cost of ownership. Mobiltel has saved 60% on software licences and technical support. A major factor in Mobitel's purchasing decision was obtaining excellent support. It was a major transition for Mobitel, as pointed out by Simeon Dimitrov, the company's Department Manager for IT Resources and Administration.
Investment in the future
HP has been continuously present in Romania since 1975. The distribution of HP products led to the opening of the representative office in 1997 and later, in May 2000, its registration as the limited liability company HP Romania SRL. HP officially launched the new company in Romania on May 24, 2002, with it being legally registered on June 2, 2003.
HP is engineering its delivery infrastructure to create one unified, truly global workflow system. As part of this global delivery strategy, HP has chosen to open service centres in Bulgaria and Romania: "Close connection to Europe and the right cost structure were the main criteria for HP to open several centres in Central and Eastern Europe," declares Francesco Serafini, Head of HP in Europe, Middle East and Africa. "It is one of the world's most dynamic regions with a high availability of skilled workers in a stable economic, political and social climate."
One such global delivery service centre was opened last year in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia to provide remote infrastructure management assistance to customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The centre is still expanding and will ultimately employ over 1,000 Bulgarians, primarily engineers and programmers: "We offer multilingual support, ease of communication and knowledge transfer - we can be a real partner," says Sasha Bezuhanova, General Manager of HP Bulgaria.
The idea is not just to reduce cost but also to optimise processes and quality and to accommodate client needs such as languages, time zones, specialised skills and scalability. With demand now stronger from Europe, HP is boosting its capabilities in the EMEA region.
Also in the last year, HP has opened a new business process outsourcing centre in Romania, following stronger-than-expected demand for its finance and accounting services. HP plans to increase its workforce over the next two years to approximately 1,200 employees. "With our extensive expertise in Shared Services, we are uniquely positioned to help our customers easily navigate strategic and operational issues to build world-class processes," explains Radu Enache, Country Manager of HP Romania.
"We can look at the whole structure and come up with the best options for delivering services," says Jan Zadak, HP's Vice-President and Managing Director for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa. "Clients get a mix of offshore, nearshore and onsite services, a combination of locations that makes sense and is dynamic over time."
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