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“Where do you guys come up with these things?” – The birth of a new services portfolio

Mike Cronin is the Vice President, Technology Services (TS) Support, for the Americas Enterprise Group.  He has an extensive background in the services business and has been instrumental in driving the overall growth and profitability of the TS business over the past ten years.  Prior to joining HP in 1989, Mike worked at Apollo Computer, Wang Laboratories and Compugraphic Corporation. He holds an MBA in Finance from Bentley College and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Merrimack College.

There are always a few people who wonder why HP Technology Services offers so many services and why we keep coming up with new ones. The thought is that services should exist to fix what breaks … and how many services do you need to get that done?  

The answer actually is: “quite a few.”  

The downtime consideration
For example, our customers have different tolerance levels for downtime. Those who have little or no tolerance want the fastest possible response. They also recognize the value of proactive services that can help identify and resolve many issues before they impact the company’s operations. They are not too concerned about the cost of services, since they know that avoiding just one downtime incident will more than pay for the cost of even the highest services level and coverage.  

However, customers with a greater tolerance for downtime have totally different response time and cost considerations. We want to make sure we have a portfolio that allows customers to select the type of coverage that’s just right for their needs and their budgets.  

The evolutionary factor #1
Technology has changed dramatically over the past few years. So have the uses organizations make of that technology.  It wasn’t all that long ago that customers were tied to proprietary mainframe or mid-range technologies and their related software. UNIX opened the doors to more standards-based approaches. Now, x86 Windows and LINUX-based systems have created a standards-based revolution. Clearly, the type of support once used for mainframes is no longer appropriate for the vast majority of organizations.  But as the use of x86 systems expands into all areas of the enterprise, neither are the support programs we applied to UNIX-based systems. Support providers like HP need to develop new support programs that reflect where and how x86 systems are being used.  

Here once again, cost is a factor. No one is ready or willing to pay mainframe support prices for one or more x86 servers, even though the x86 units may now be running the same mission critical applications that the mainframes once did. The challenge is to create support that takes into consideration the dramatically reduced complexity and proven reliability of x86 devices, while also providing the levels of support that can match the wide range of applications they run.  

The evolutionary factor #2
The evolution of technology and the marketplace is continuing at an unprecedented pace, especially in the cloud-based world. New capabilities are opening up new opportunities. But they are also creating additional challenges in terms of increased competition, high productivity and efficiency, and demands for innovation in both products and services. Organizations need services – and services vendors - that are flexible enough to adapt quickly to help them respond to the challenges and capitalize on business opportunities, no matter how quickly they change and evolve.

What (or who) is the problem?
Offering a solid, responsive program of hardware-only support may sound like plenty … until you read findings from major analysts who say hardware problems are responsible for only about 20% of all unplanned downtime. The real trouble-makers causing the other 80% are issues related to people and processes. So providing a real program of “support” means finding a way to address those people and process issues for customers for whom unplanned downtime is a major concern and risk factor.

When in doubt, ask
Developing a new services portfolio in a vacuum would be much faster for any service provider. No having to deal with bothersome reality. No having to change and revise and adapt to meet customer suggestions. No testing and re-testing to make sure it delivers actual results. Unfortunately, a portfolio developed in a vacuum would only work correctly in a vacuum. So before we developed or created anything, we sat down with our customers and asked them what they wanted and needed, especially for x86 environments … and we based our new portfolio on their responses. We also tested each part of the portfolio with customers and made changes according to their feedback. Finally, we continue to adapt and improve the new “Care” portfolio, as we call it, to reflect on-going customer input and the continued evolution in technology and the marketplace.  

We feel we have a winner in this new portfolio. The first in a series of year-long evaluations are in for one of its component – Datacenter Care.  It has a worldwide satisfaction rating of 99% with over 91% of customers saying they are “delighted” by the service.  

In the rest of the blogs in this series, I’ll discuss they what’s and why’s and how’s of each service in the “Care” portfolio – Foundation Care, Proactive Care, and Datacenter Care.  My goal is to provide you with a solid answer for that great question: “Where do you guys come up with these things?”  

- Mike Cronin

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