Paul Evans, worldwide lead for Application Transformation, a former software developer, is very passionate about apps. He works with HP to deliver clients a business benefit rather than just a technology component.
HP recently appeared at the Appsworld event alongside Steve Wosniack. The Apple Founder spoke about how, going forward, the whole technology experience will be based around the ecosystems of apps. "That is what we believe, it's not a trend, this is the future," says Evans.
He spoke to CBR about HP being the George Clooney of the app world and how collaborative services are the way forward in the tech world.
At Appsworld, you pitched HP as the George Clooney of apps. What does this mean?
The keynote was called 'Why you need a George Clooney in the apps world?' The reason that we chose George was because you need something that is sexy and attractive but also experienced and mature in a single package, and you don't get that very often: having the blend of being contemporary but also reliable and mature. There are people at either end of the spectrum but you very rarely find people who are both. Clients are looking for a George Clooney who can develop really intuitive, compelling, beautifully designed experiences delivered by apps that make you come back and use it again.
It doesn't mean that George Clooney comes from one company. We also talked at the event about our partners we've pulled together because this is such a wide and broad environment that they need different disciplines to make that end experience something you enjoy and will come back to time and time again.
HP is partnering with other IT companies to deliver a better blend of services. How is this partnering bettering your service?
The emotional connection you have to a brand is now predominantly delivered by technology. We have a saying at HP: 'The app is becoming the face of your organisation' and, therefore, people gauge an org or brand effectively over some form of digital media. Tablets, phones, PC, Mac, TV - the experience you get determines whether you think that organisation is good or bad. It is unfortunate but that's the reality. Great app equals great company. That's the way we do things these days.
So if the app has become the face of the organisation, the skills required to deliver the brand and a great digital experience and great technology response cannot be answered by any one organisation. There is no end-to-end organisation.
But HP has partnering in its DNA, so we reached out to some partners who were best of breed to work together with those who were good at digital marketing and channel engagement while we're good at digital channels and heavy-weight complexity at the back end in the cloud environment. So if we team up, we can go to a client and say: 'Between the two of us, we can do what you want.'
How is the collaborative ecosystem helping HP's service?
Partnering is in HP's DNA, so we're more than happy to connect with partners. HP's traditional audience is CIOs and people in the technology sector, but CMOs and Chief Digital Officers are understanding that digital technologies are the way they engage with their clients going forward. So the CMO, rather than coming up with the next great advertising campaign, needs to work out how to exploit the internet to engage with customers, keep customers abreast of what they are doing and to make them offers on a regular, even hourly basis.
This is a huge opportunity which is really still quite untapped. But now you've got this duality of the CIO and the CMO, particularly in digital agencies. So bringing them together you can work together to give customers the solution they are looking for without becoming a project manager between a digital agency and a technology company, which they probably had to do in the past. We want to offer that seamless experience end-to-end.
Do you think collaboration between IT providers to offer a diversified service is the way forward for the tech industry?
I think those who understand what the real challenges are and look at specific industry environments and understand that healthcare is not the same as financial services. We're becoming more and more specialised in what they want.
If you're in a particular industry there are varying personas you need to address. If you don't understand those personas and what they really want you can miss the target by miles because there are no such things as customers anymore, they are individuals. That's the way we are now with our smartphones and apps, we converse with a company and to be treated as an individual, not a customer. You want a personalised experience.
So apps become more context aware, the apps start to understand where you are and give you recommendations to suit you. Being location-based, if an app knows where you are, it can do things for you based on your location. Also, context: if I'm going abroad on a business trip, I would like my app to understand that and give me suitable recommendations. For example, I walk into the hotel and my phone alerts me to the meeting and sends me the room service menu for the hotel. This is what context aware means: things like this would make people's lives easier and making sure we make fewer mistakes by helping you out according to your diary.
The app being aware of context, and you and your personal habits, can be something that makes the experience more personal and helpful. This is something we're only scraping the surface of at the moment of what apps can really do for people.
How can apps bridge the gap between consumers and businesses?
What is happening is the experience we are getting as a consumer; people want to have that experience at work. A lot of these apps are very intuitive, they're easy to use and don't come with a manual and do all sorts of things. In the office, the apps aren't built to have that enjoyable front-end, they were built to be functional. You were often sent on a training course to be able to use this app, nobody put in the design and skills to make it easier to save time and money.
We design apps that are easier to interact with and doesn't require them going on an extensive training course. They will save money all around because the employee is more productive and they don't have to go to learn about something new and different.
Enterprise apps have got to become as easy and intuitive as consumer-based apps, so we are heading towards a single destination. A lot of the work we do for enterprises is help them build those front ends that will interact with the back end and give people a consumer like experience.