It is rare for really big — if struggling — technology companies to have new offerings of direct interest to advisory firms, but Hewlett-Packard Co. briefed me on some.
On Oct. 30, HP introduced some printers and print technology that could cut printing costs significantly and allow for a better marriage between a firm's printing and content management/document management needs.
Among the new offerings are a line of HP Officejet Pro and HP LaserJet printers, as well as a content management system that will appeal to many smaller advisory firms.
In my briefing, HP officials touted the performance of a line of inkjet printer models due out in the spring.
Specifically, they said that the HP Officejet Pro X Series desktop printers and multifunction printers (MFP) will deliver up to twice the speed at up to half the printing cost, compared with other color laser printers in their class.
This line is meant for the small- to midsize-business market, and the company's HP PageWide Technology will power this next-generation line of inkjet printers. With this technology, users should get print speeds of up to 70 pages per minute.
George Alonso, senior director of marketing for Inkjet Printing Solutions at HP, explained some of the differences: namely that unlike many other inkjet printers, where the print bar goes across the page, with these new HP models, the page travels underneath the print bar.
“There are also technological differences in the ink, as well — there is no fuser or imaging drums, and the ink itself is a bit cleaner,” he said.
The cartridges can print considerably more pages on average — about 9,200 monochrome pages and 6,600 color pages, Mr. Alonso said.
“That's about three times as many pages as a typical laser, and because we don't have fusers [which are a key component of laser printers] to warm up, you have half the energy costs of comparable laser printers,” he said.
I was also briefed by Mike Weir, vice president of LaserJet Enterprise Solutions at HP, who said networked multifunction printers that are able to steal away even more tasks from traditional copiers will become more common.
“You see all the traditional MFP features and all the different traditional network abilities, including manageability, but these new models also offer very sophisticated scanning capabilities on them,” he said.
These include page sensing that helps automatically prevent skewing of images when scanning a document, obviating the need for manual intervention.
What ultimately may appeal most to midsize and larger advisory firms is the more sophisticated routing and document storage capabilities that either are native to the devices or can be programmed into them, thanks to HP's acquisition of Autonomy Corp. PLC. The HP flow MFPs can be integrated with content management solutions based on software from Autonomy, either on-site or via the cloud.
In particular, I can see these new laser printers and the Autonomy features being of great interest to independent broker-dealers with lots of branch offices or multioffice registered investment adviser firms.
“[They offer] file sharing and publishing capabilities, [and] anywhere, anytime, accessibility where security is critical — with bank-class security,” said Aaron Weiss, director of marketing for LaserJet Enterprise Solutions at HP.
The new hardware supports and can be easily integrated with applications that use the open-extensibility platform, or OXP, which is used to create extensions to third-party applications such as Sharepoint and Salesforce.com.
The HP LaserJet Enterprise flow MFP M525c (available sometime this month for about $2,599) and HP LaserJet Enterprise color flow MFP M575c (ditto availability and for about $3,199) are a couple of models in the lineup.
I am told that the primary difference between the HP LaserJet Enterprise color flow MFP M575 and the existing 575dn is the inclusion of enhanced scanning capabilities and proprietary HP solutions that allow businesses to enhance the capture, storage, sharing and search of their data, specifically the inclusion of integrations with Autonomy that I mentioned above.
I will find out more about how HP's Autonomy offerings can be adapted to or customized for financial advisers and how they compare with similar offerings.
The HP folks also said that they would put me in touch with value-added resellers in financial services.
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