David Murphy: HP's Web Print Guru

Why would a software and Web services guy take a job at a printing company? HP's David Murphy explains why he did just that.  

Last September, Hewlett-Packard named David Murphy to head a new Web Services and Software unit within the company's Imaging and Printing Group. Murphy, who previously served as chief financial officer of the enterprise software maker Mercury Interactive (which has since been acquired by HP) as well as CEO of Asera, recently spoke with eWEEK about the ways the company's printing business is increasingly a services and software business.

Why the need for a Web Services and Software unit within HP's printing business?

We've been very successful in office and consumer printing, and enjoyed the wave of demand driven by client server and desktop and laptop computing. But our view is that if all we do is serve the technology to the market as opposed to participate in the creation of printing applications, we would not be fulfilling the leadership role we want to have. Now we are going out into the marketplace and talking about our Print 2.0 strategy, to get at some of the new printing opportunities resulting from Web 2.0. There are a lot of opportunities to create more publications from all of the digital content that exists online today. It has provoked new ways of communicating and interacting.

Is this opportunity more in the consumer or the enterprise market?

Both. Many of these new printing opportunities have been created as a result of consumer photo sharing software such as Snapfish [HP acquired Snapfish in 2005], which has led to new ways to create more personalized memorabilia. Exstream Software [HP acquired Exstream Software earlier this year] is a company that is working with enterprises to help them better interact with their customers.

Give some examples of the new applications for printing you describe.

I was at a photo industry event recently and I spent a lot of time with retailers discussing the retail photo category, which of course is on the decline as more people opt to share photos digitally rather than just create a photo print for a shoebox.

In that arena, the next generation of technology that will go into retail stores will allow consumers to publish all kinds of products: photo books, personalized calendars, greeting cards, event-oriented correspondence. It will allow consumers to mix personalized and professional content. More importantly, when you think about people in community groups and schools or any group where they create material to communicate, I think you can go across a lot of different things that people do every day and create new printing opportunities. We did work with Disney on a Hannah Montana concert series to create a memory book that was promoted during the concert. It was something you could print out at home or at retail stores. This is the kind of product that you used to have to go into a toy store, or some other place, to access.

In the enterprise space it is equally interesting. If you look at Exstream Software, which is working with companies to print personalized financial and insurance statements, it helps them pick up information at the most current point before printing. One of the challenges of the insurance industry, for example, is that they go through a rate approvals process that is so lengthy that the data can end up being stale by the time it is ready to print. But if you can manage printing and publishing real time content, you can reinvent how you think about a claim and claims processing.