Mugur Pantaia, Managing Director, HP Inc Romania / Raluca Gadiuta, HR Manager, HP Inc Romania
- What are the trends related to technology that 2022 will bring or will continue in our industry? How will they impact us? What opportunities and challenges should we expect? How do you plan to use them in your favor and to be ahead of the others?
Mugur Pantaia – Managing Director: The COVID-19 pandemic has upended everything, from the global economy to how we live, work, and connect with one another. The passing year and the year before were challenging, no question about that. Hybrid work demanded safe, comfortable and productive work conditions for employees, meaning the right technologies and solutions for our clients. It is what we focused on at HP and we keep on focusing on this year. This general context shapes trends, creates opportunities, as well as challenges and that is why we must use times like these as a catalyst for change, both in terms of the technology HP creates for its customers, as well as the impact it makes for its communities.
We should mention the workforce evolution, the Classroom of the Future and a growing concern for cyber security as being some of the new paths we must follow. Also, we can proudly state that HP is reimagining workforce culture, collaboration and creativity, innovating its technology and services for hybrid ways of working. It is both a challenge and an opportunity as the pandemic has accelerated plans for innovation and transformation and changed the future of work forever. The physical and digital worlds are closer than ever before and this is a great opportunity for a company like HP, which sits at the intersection between those worlds. As hybrid organizations and workplaces become the new norm, IT departments are focusing on making remote employees as productive, connected, and secure as possible. To address this new reality, HP introduced a range of enhanced PC solutions designed to address a variety of rapidly evolving work environments. HP is also trailblazing in the area of VR, innovating in both hardware and software to offer the world’s most comprehensive VR portfolio and unlock VR’s full potential, creating the next generation of employee and customer experiences. HP sees an incredible opportunity to transform companies and industries through the use of VR. The five big areas of growth we see are in 1) architecture, construction & engineering 2) product design 3) training in both hard and soft skills 4) healthcare and 5) location-based entertainment. Studies say that, by 2030, 23 million jobs will be using AR and VR in one way or another.
We mentioned the Classroom of the Future. The pandemic made remote and hybrid learning a necessity. HP has always delivered innovative technologies and services tailored to the education sector. While blended learning has been discussed for some time, the role technology plays in education has never been more pertinent than it is today. Technology must generate interest, cultivate imagination and inspire student curiosity, leveraging unprecedented connectivity and access to vibrant, multimedia information. Moreover, the uncertainty of schools being able to resume in-person learning has created new challenges: access to devices, internet availability, organizing resources, changing learning methods, tracking attendance. PCs are expected to adapt to numerous activities, stay reliably connected to WiFi, stand up to rough handling, and provide battery power to last beyond the school day on a single charge. HP took on this challenge and we are adapting our products to meet these new needs. The HP Education Edition devices are engineered to survive the toughest operating environment for PCs, meaning schools. The notebooks undergo some of the most stringent durability testing in the industry, being designed with features that reduce accidental drops, keep keys and ports intact, stand up to heavy wear and tear, and make it easier to clean and sanitize.
We also keep in mind that education is a human right and technology can be a great equalizer. We would mention our HP LIFE (Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs), a program of the HP Foundation which provides free access to 30 entrepreneurship and IT training courses. Since 2016, the HP LIFE program has reached over 374,000 students in 198 countries and territories, helping them start and grow their own business or get a better job. Goal is 1 million users by 2025. This program is available in Romanian on the Junior Achievement (JA) LMS platform, being also implemented in JA entrepreneurship competitions. We are delighted that Junior Achievement has launched a special HP LIFE program for young students in Romania. Last year, students enrolled in the JA BizzFactory educational incubator, where they had the opportunity to present their pilot business in various fields, such as: technology, e-commerce, social business, creative industries, education or agriculture. And we continue this tradition. HP supports this project each year and sponsors one of the final awards. In Romania, the HP LIFE is successful among young people. In 2020, over 65,000 students attended classes organized through this program.
Another important aspect of our challenging times is cyber security. Modern cybercrime is a well-funded and well-resourced economy, ranging from sophisticated groups investing in targeted attacks to indiscriminate scammers working at scale. It’s innovating with the same urgency as legitimate businesses. Every person and every size of business is a target. With many employees working from home, the lines between personal and work equipment are blurred and innocent actions, such as reading personal email on a work computer, can have serious consequences. This is a huge challenge for IT teams as it is for HP to assist them with innovative solutions. HP strives to build the most secure and resilient endpoint devices in the world. With hardware-enforced security and proactive cloud-based intelligence, an HP device is designed to hold its own against attacks, support the defenses of the network it sits in, and recover quickly when needed. We invest in software and services that help businesses of every size access advanced malware protection and security analytics. Endpoint devices are on the frontline of the cyber security battleground; choosing a device is a security decision. And we can brag that HP creates the most secure PCs in the world, securing the device below, at and above the OS. HP implemented the HP Wolf Security for Business, which protects users from hacking and malware attempts. It includes a portfolio of security solutions that are built into the hardware. This is how we equip our customers with a secure foundation that puts protection first.
Another trend I’m noticing: the customers’ concern for environment. Governments and big companies as well are talking more and more about the need to act and do more to protect the Planet. Sustainability is a major goal and HP aims to be the most sustainable and just technology company. HP committed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across value chain by 2040.
- The way of working, recruiting, onboarding and so on were probably the most affected by the pandemic. What do you think is here to stay and what new trends will emerge in 2022 when it comes to work? What challenges will company face? How companies as well as employees will be affected? Does your company plan to implement new strategies for recruiting and retaining people? Do you intend to go back to the office? When? What changes should your employees expect to see there?
Raluca Gadiuta – HR Country Lead Romania: In HP, moving to an online way of work, was a smooth transition, since we had the infrastructure and the practice in place, as we are working in global teams across borders.
However, the impact of the pandemic showed in the increased numbers of zoom calls, colleagues managing with more difficulty their work life balance and managers needing to implement new behaviours for maintaining engagement in the teams.
In HP, we focused on 2 main directions in order to address this:
- Programs for all employees, focused on 3 directions: digital upskilling, to make sure all navigate the digital space and tools with ease; tools for wellness (trying to get people away from the computer and offer options to relax; implementing an online tool for psychological assistance.
- Programs for managers, aimed at raising their skills in people management, creating engagement and a more empathetic and flexible environment. Such an example is the coaching skills for managers program, which was aimed at raising awareness and using coaching as a management style
Clearly flexibility and hybrid work will be a “trend” to stay after the pandemic: we understood that balancing working from home with working from the office, individual focused time and creative brainstorming with the team, business needs and personal priorities is essential for people to move away from how we used to see working and managing people. Management behaviours that come with virtual teams will be here to stay and to be developed further as an essential skill and we will see people spending time in the office when it is needed for engaging with teams, for enabling creativity and innovation. We understood that social interaction is essential for creating engagement, so we will continue to have the office as a central place of our culture, but with significantly more flexibility in how we are using it.
Recruitment has already picked up and we see a lot of movement on the job market. Clearly candidates have shifted their interest and now we are discussing benefits such as teleworking, hybrid work, flexibility of the working schedule in order to balance various needs. We have launched entirely virtual programs (i.e. internship and graduate programs that have run 100% online with a great success rate) and onboarding has moved online. We are able to engage more easily with our global colleagues and enable from the very beginning collaboration and building relationships across cultures.
- Are there any trends in the customer experience area? Do you foresee any change in the way our industry delivers services? Is the customer satisfaction affected by the pandemic? What opportunities do you see for this year? Did your company find any new solutions to improve the customers’ experience?
Mugur Pantaia – Managing Director: We all know that the customer buying behavior is evolving continuously and the industry must pay great attention to this factor. The pandemic came as an additional layer to this evolution because it revealed new consumer needs to be met quickly. The way we work and learn shifted overnight and suddenly people were looking for performing, flexible and more productive devices and services. From large enterprises and governments to small businesses and individual employees, everyone had to adopt new digital business methods and operating models. This was the point when the consumers’ behavior changed, and we had to adapt in order to keep the customers’ satisfaction. Luckily, HP has a long history of innovating alongside customers and partners and this approach always pays off.
On the PC market, the last six pandemic quarters have seen an evolution almost impossible to predict. There was a demand difficult to anticipate in a period when the industry missed an integrated circuit. At first, the customers were satisfied with anything they could find on the shelves. Later on, things have changed however, and people are now paying attention to their equipment performance and security due to evolving risks concerning their PCs.
So, we see new trends. We see a growing interest in offerings as a service for PS, but also for printing. The customer is no longer looking only for equipment, for hardware, but also for a package that includes services. This trend is obvious for HP in the printing landscape, be it commercial or consumer. And we took the opportunity and launched in Romania the Instant Ink subscription service for printing at home. It was launched last year in our country and well received by the customers who want to pay for what they print only. Your printer will let you know when it will need new supplies and you will receive them automatically to your door. Following the same trend, we designed HP+, a new, cloud-based ecosystem created for consumers and small businesses. HP+ consolidates all the printing offerings into one smart ecosystem, including HP’s latest printer hardware, supplies subscription service and the Smart App which boasts 48 million-plus active monthly users, being an integral component to HP’s mobile print-from-anywhere strategy.
These days, the PC is essential for keeping people connected, working securely, learning, cared for and entertained. Focus of customers goes in the direction of security, quality of screen, weight of the product and working time of the battery for better mobility and applications for support. Clients become more and more aware of their own needs and are interested in notebooks from higher series. Also, in times of change, monitors become equipment of our home offices and improve comfort and productivity due to size of the screen but also due to integrated cameras or speakers which make online meetings easier. We should mention here HP Presence, which combines software & hardware supporting online meetings.
A constantly growing sector is the gaming one: around one third of world population is part of the video gaming community. 2020 saw a resurgence in gaming, with huge spikes in numbers of people playing online, as well as many first-time gamers. So we developed the gaming portfolio because gaming is now much more than a solitary pastime, it is a way for people to connect socially, compete and progress their passions. It became a lifestyle. Mainstream gamers want devices good enough to satisfy their casual gaming needs and take part in or learn about gaming culture. They also want to use the device for entertainment, learning and creation. With this in mind, HP created OMEN, driving innovation in thermals, fan control, performance, and design.
We are 100% convinced that the future looks good. HP is on solid grounds thanks to our extensive portfolio. We are serving both businesses and consumers. Thus, we manage to balance good and bad moments, to meet market trends and face challenging times.