Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 June 2012 13:19 Written by ITWeb Informatica Friday, 27 January 2012 08:27
Manoj Bhoola, country manager for HP Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking, believes cloud computing could help government to effectively drive business and service delivery.
Manoj Bhoola is not a man who minces his words. As country manager for HP Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking (ESSN) within the HP Enterprise Business Division, he is responsible for the sales force that targets large businesses and government departments with server, storage and networking solutions. He works with a team of 96 people, and 8 direct reports. Due to the nature of HP’s internal structures, more often than not he’s also co-ordinating solutions with other divisions.
And he’s known to drive business productivity; not only from his staff, but also from the solutions he sells.
He says it’s because he simply hates inefficiencies. “IT systems can tell you stuff before it happens. Say you arrive at Heathrow, wait for your luggage and it doesn’t arrive. Instead of having to go to the baggage claim office, which can see the luggage was left behind at OR Thambo, why not let the system alert you before you even go to the baggage claim office? SMS me or flash my name on a notice board and then, to add a bit of a marketing spin to it, tell me I’m getting extra Voyager points to make up for the inconvenience. IT systems can alert us only if we ask for the information – I keep looking for those efficiencies. They are ultimately what make the world a better place for us.”
Part of that better place is South Africa. “SA is tiny and makes up only about 1% of the world economy, maybe even less. In HP’s terms, however, SA is very important because we form part of MEMA (Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa region), which is the growth engine for the EMEA region. In EMEA we are the one of the countries earmarked for massive growth, whereas the big five in Europe (Italy, Germany, Britain, France and Spain) are not seeing massive growth.”
Worldwide, HP’s stance is to look for pockets of growth. “We’ve had massive investments in the SA company, growing our teams because HP’s international management team see the potential. Two years ago I had 40-odd people in my team, now it’s closer to 100.”
So what’s it like to head up the local operation of a global ICT leader? There are a few challenges, Bhoola admits.
As a listed company, HP has to keep Nasdaq analysts happy, and this influences his management strategy. “The main thing analysts want is predictability: if I say I’ll deliver something, I have to deliver just that – nothing more and nothing less. If I can’t accurately predict what I’ll deliver, it means I either don’t know my business or I don’t know my customers, neither of which would be good news for investors.”
The second challenge is that he’s constantly thinking globally but acting locally. “HP has thousands of engineers who can do cloud workshops, for instance. How many live in SA or in Cape Town? A few qualified engineers. Luckily, though, those international HP engineers actually live in a plane and can be here in a few days. That’s what I like about multinationals – the cost of flights and hotels doesn’t scare them. I can say with a clear conscience that HP has the skills, but they may not be all sitting in Rivonia.”
“Yes, HP’s corporate guidelines are strict, mainly because of being a Nasdaq-listed company. For instance, I can’t buy a bottle of wine for a government employee because it breaks our governance rules and can be a fireable offence.”
Government, Bhoola says, is a huge portion of HP SA’s business. “The real challenge for government is that services and efficiencies start being impacted when government cuts down on IT spend. You end up with aging apps and hardware held together with paper weights and rubber bands.
Bhoola says there’s the willingness to change and embrace new technologies and solutions, but SA government suffers from inefficiencies in spending. “The speed at which government operates in terms of spending capex can be challenging. At the end of the last fiscal year, the then finance minister, Trevor Manuel, was vocal because government didn’t spend allocated budget – it should never happen, but it’s happening merely because of slow decision-making processes.”
To eliminate these inefficiencies, government should look into the cloud, believes Bhoola. “The solution is cloud initiatives, where SITA becomes a cloud
provider to the departments, who only pay for the services they use. IT then becomes an operational expense rather than a capital outlay. My challenge is to help government to change strategy but still effectively drive business and service delivery.”
A perfectly meaty challenge for Bhoola, wouldn’t you say?
CO N TA C T
Additional information about the Flemish government’s e-government initiatives is available at www.hp.com/go/reinventor/flemishgov.