More companies these days are innovating their products by designing them for specific regions of the world. Amin Mortazavi, the general manager of the imaging and printing group at HP Middle East, explains why the company's researchers spent time with families in Egypt to come up with a new kind of product tailored to their needs.
How important is innovation in HP?
As a market leader you have to pay a big amount of attention to innovation. It is the one factor that keeps you ahead of your competition. Last year we introduced a technology called e-print. In that technology the printer is connected to the web directly. That printer has an individual e-mail address so if you can e-mail it you can print it.
What else is important about innovation at HP?
Innovation is when you come up with a particular solution for the customer.
Does HP use customer feedback when developing new products?
Many of our inventions are a result of bottom-up feedback … which comes from partners, distributors and, of course, our customers. It would be very difficult to invent [a product] and then try to find the right customer, so we would rather do it the other way around.
Can you share an example of how you do this?
Three-and-a-half years ago a team of researchers went to Egypt and studied the printing behaviour of a typical Egyptian consumer. They did this study for a couple of weeks and went to the homes of people in Egypt and interviewed them around their printing habits, requirements and so forth.
What did they do with the data?
They took all this feedback to the research and development centre, which in this case is in the US, and they came up with a series of products that we launched in Egypt. What we found through this study is that we need to lower the barrier for the people who are first-time buyers. The internet penetration in Egypt is increasing and people want to be connected. Once you are connected, you have to print. We make sure that this printer is catered to their requirements.
We introduced a lower-capacity cartridge with this printer, which brings the total cost of the printer down. This then makes it easier or reduces the barrier for them. Always there is a fear when you are confronted with new technology on different levels and we try to cater to that.
Are these printers sold only in Egypt?
We have started selling them in Egypt, but we may expand them to other countries as well.
* Gillian Duncan