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India digitisation story a massive opportunity: HPE chief executive Antonio Neri

Edge to cloud computing company HPE forecasts a massive opportunity to participate in the India digitisation story, chief executive and president Antonio Neri said, as 20% of its global workforce is present in the country and a major chunk of innovation happens from here.

Neri told ET in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the HPE Discover Summit in Las Vegas that the company, which works with leading Indian IT services providers such as Tata Consultancy Services

(TCS), Infosys and Wipro, is building upon its partner ecosystem globally.

While he expects more consolidation in the global technology industry as businesses grapple with the post-pandemic world, spending on modernisation will continue “unabated,” he added.

Neri also spoke about the growing need for modernisation and connectivity solutions in India which the company hopes to tap. However, to participate in the digitisation initiatives of the government, greater clarity on guidelines and regulations was required, he pointed out.

The Indian economy has bounced back significantly from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the market for solution modernization across segments like connectivity, essential and citizen services have opened up rapidly, he said.

“For HPE, India is a great market opportunity, at the same time it is a source of amazing talent that we continue to rely on. A lot of innovation happens in India with our talent, and we are continuing to invest in India. It is absolutely critical,” Neri said.

In 2015, US-based Hewlett Packard Co was split into HP Inc to cater to personal devices and Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE) to handle its enterprise services business.

Neri, who has spent over 27 years at HP, joined as a customer service engineer and rose through the ranks to be appointed CEO of HPE in 2018.

According to technology research and consulting firm Gartner Inc, government IT spending is projected to touch $9.5 billion this year, growing 12.1% over 2021. In contrast to worldwide spending, this will be across all segments, led by software and IT services.

“I have had conversations with the government in India. I felt that if they get the ecosystem for policy, capital investment, infrastructure, logistics and talent development right, India can become an incredible force of nature,” Neri added.

In 2019, HPE said it would invest $500 million in India over five years to grow its operations, manufacturing and employee base as well as increase its R&D and services exports from the country.

HPE is also keen to participate in government-led digitisation initiatives with its Indian partner ecosystem. Neri, however, hoped this ecosystem would become more transparent so that technology players can apply for these opportunities.

“I think the government needs to establish clear, transparent engagements there, so that people don't step on each other,” he said.

During the Discover Summit, Neri made key announcements with respect to the company’s commitment to offer its entire portfolio as-a-service through its flagship HPE GreenLake platform.

A key strategy in achieving these commitments has been working with the extensive partner and vendor ecosystem of HPE, including IT service system integrators.

“We work with the likes of Wipro, TCS and Infosys (globally). As they continue to pivot the focus from labour arbitrage and IT outsourcing to more digitization and application modernization solutions, we can actually deliver a complete transformation solution and that includes the government (solutions). It does not matter if we are at the front-end or the backend of these initiatives,” Neri said.

HPE has traditionally had a stronger client base of public sector and large enterprises in India but has lately used the Greenlake platform to make inroads into the small and medium business ecosystem.

HPE, Neri said, is working towards a largely consumption-based offering to build lasting revenue streams. This is particularly relevant as the global economy faces a rather uncertain situation with a looming recession and worries over rising inflation.

“I will say from the IT enterprise perspective, the mega trend that we all live in today is digital transformation… We will continue to see accelerated consolidation in the industry. But customers are also voting with their money to modernise, and we are here to capture that demand,” he said.


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