In this exclusive interview, Ernest Azzam, HP’s Regional Business Manager Large Format Printing MEMA, shares his thoughts on the HP’s current stand in the market and their plans to handle them

There are a handful of sellers like Canon, Océ, Ricoh, Seiko, so how would you like to differentiate HP from others?
HP focuses on delivering the best technology and service to our customers while providing the best support to our partners. HP has the largest portfolio in the industry for outdoor and indoor printing. The technologies and solutions launched by HP have always revolutionized the market starting with the Designjet portfolio launched 25 years ago for technical applications and Indoor graphics, to the Latex printing solutions providing high quality prints for outdoor/indoor graphics. And the recently released PageWide XL production printers replacing old LED based technologies in the market. Our aim is to provide opportunities and open new segments for our customers to grow their business.

What is special in the page wide technology and can you elaborate about its growth in the ME region?
The PageWide XL portfolio provides the fastest large-format monochrome and color printing with substantial savings in total production costs. HP PageWide Technology consists of more than 200,000 nozzles on a stationary print bar and spans the width of the page (40 inch), enabling breakthrough printing speeds of up to 30 A1/min. The PageWide XL goes beyond printing mono line drawings expanding to colour lines and is suited for Geographic Information System maps and Point-of-Sale posters. It also prints on a wide range of media from bond and coated paper to polypropylene and glossy media.  HP PageWide XL was awarded Red Dot Best of the Best Design Award for outstanding and ground-breaking design quality.
The technology has been a great success in the Middle East. The PageWide XL 5000 and 8000 series, available in the Middle East as of the end of 2015, achieved a market share of 63% in 2016 in its category (jumping from 0% in 2015) based on IDC. It has been adopted both in the corporate and the PSP/Copy Centre segments.

In your experience, what would you say about the future of the printing industry?
The printing industry in general is evolving from analogue to digital in all of its segments, commercial printing, outdoor/indoor printing and packaging. New technologies are opening new business opportunities for customers, diversifying their offering. Customers need to adopt new technologies that allow them to address new market segments in order to have profitable growth.

What simple things can HP do right away to address the current market?
Our aim is to open up new market segments for our customers helping them to grow. An example is HP Latex Ink that is water based.  It allows customer to use prints with high quality and high fade resistance indoor. While other long lasting printing solutions use solvent or low-solvent agents that are not suitable for indoor use. Decoration is a new growth market now available to customers because of HP Latex solutions. Wallpaper, Canvas prints, furniture and more can now be customized, printed and used safely indoor. Worldwide, this segment is 83% analogue/commercial printing and only 17% digital. In our region, the ratio is even lower for digital.  The opportunity for growth is huge and profitable.

What are HP goals for 2017? Where did those goals come from - did you devise them yourself, or in collaboration with your team, or did they come from higher up in the organization or emerge another way?
The main goals for 2017 are customer success and of course growth. Our goals include making sure we provide the tools and programs for our partners to grow profitably while providing the best service and business model to our customers. We need to make sure our customers are competitive and have new opportunities to grow their business. These goals are not only set by HP, but they are set by listening to the customers and the market and understanding their needs.

What major events or trends in the organization or in the recent past shape your 2017 plans? And what major events or themes do you envision coming to the fore over the next 12 months?
Our plans are set based on trends, new solutions and technologies launched as well as market evolution. The Middle East is a very dynamic region and the segments we provide solutions to are very diverse. So the plans always adapt to each segment and the developments in the market.