NEW YORK—Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft Corp. are taking to the road with a new initiative to bring technology to small and midsize businesses in remote parts of the country.
At the TechXNY Expo in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here this week, the duo showcased a large RV outfitted with technology from servers to PCs to voice-over-IP phones to software. Inside the truck are five separate workstations where users can get hands-on experience with products specifically tailored for SMBs, such as Microsofts Office Small Business Edition software.
The companies will roll out seven other trucks in the next few months. The goal: to hit 250 cities by June of 2005 and to reach one million SMBs.
The nationwide initiative is also supported by Cisco Systems Inc., which provides infrastructure support, and Intel Corp., which supplies processing capabilities.
Microsoft started pilot-testing the truck in some cities last year. One SMB user in Bridgeport, Conn., was invited by Microsoft partner Intellibridge LLC to tour the truck.
"The truck was really neat because they have a hands-on demo. I looked at things at thought, Wow, this could work, where does this fit in, how does it work? It really raised more questions than answers, which I could then turn around and ask Intellibridge," said John Lott, prepress manager for OBrien Litho Corp., a small printing company in Bridgeport, Conn., and also an owner of his own small printing business.
Lott has been mainly a Macintosh user since the 90s, but with the influx of documents he is receiving from home PCs, he decided it was time to look into the PC side of the business. He liked that he could work through a Microsoft partner he knew personally instead of working with the larger IT provider directly.
"The trucks great, especially if its in your home town, and theres a personal attachment to it," he said. "If one of the big guys call you, you might not know who youre talking to."
The initiative is also part of HPs and Microsofts push to extend their breadth of channel partners.
Local channel partners in these cities will be recruited to participate in the trucks to help educate their SMB clients on how to implement end-to-end solutions and, of course, sell more software and hardware.
"Everyone has some piece of this technology in some shape or form, and this really helps us show them how they can make it all work together," said Rob Bello, director of sales for Bit by Bit, a New York-based reseller, at this weeks TechXNY event. "Its a tough profit, selling the hardware. We find that we really have to offer solutions, and this will help us do that."
For a list of cities on the tour, visit www.microsoft.com/acrossamerica.