Talk by Albert Serra on the innovation model at HP

April 2014.- The world of large format printing has changed radically in recent years. Twenty years ago it was practically limited to plotters in architects’ studios. Now we can find ink-jet systems out to use much more widely and the print speed has also increased. What could be printed in an hour previously now takes thirty seconds

The four key elements of HP’s innovation in large format printing

HP began to produce plotters in Sant Cugat in 1985 and in 2000 production was transferred to Asia, leaving design and R&D at the Sant Cugat site. There are currently over 2,000 employees at the centre which contains eleven of the company’s businesses and has responsibilities on both a European and world scale. Albert Serra highlights the four key elements in the innovation that HP has made in large scale printing over the last two decades.

First and foremost, talent.

The HP centre at Sant Cugat employees 400 engineers with an average age of 36. There are workers from 61 different nationalities and the links with other research centres (in Shanghai, India, Israel and Palo Alto) are very important. In fact, the vision of HP is for exteriorisation and diversity, which it sees as a source of global enrichment.

Managing the talent at HP Sant Cugat means involving the workers in failures as well as successes and giving them responsibility and trust right from the start and providing them with a pleasant working environment that promotes transversality, including in terms of the actual physical space. Its location close to excellent universities and research centres is a great advantage.

Secondly, technological innovation

HP promotes a culture of innovation. Risk management involves a combination of disruptive and incremental innovation that may provide lower value but also lower risk. Agility in innovation process and a guarantee of real value for the customer translate into value for the company.

Thirdly, customer relations

HP places great importance on the knowledge of its customers and their needs, which may be explicit or implicit and are not necessarily clearly communicated. For example, needs related to mobility and networked services, etc. Changes in value proposals necessary involve changes in R&D investment.

During the talk it becomes clear that technological innovation is increasingly centred on the customer’s experience with the product. HP offer its customers maximum involvement in the design (co-design) of the products and this often leads to the discovery of implicit needs. In the end, good customer design means a good user experience.

Finally, the ability to adapt

The fourth ingredient in HP’s innovation in large scale printers is the capacity to adapt to new situations. Albert Serra explains that transferring the production to Asia is a good example of this. In 2000 HP had already re-invented its working method, concentrating on added value, staying one step ahead and taking over companies that did things it was interested in.

Albert Serra

Albert Serra, global director of R&D in the Large Format Printing division of Hewlett-Packard explains in a talk at ACCIO what ingredients were needed to make the R&D Centre of HP at Sant Cugat a reference point within the multinational.

Talent, technology, customer knowledge and ability to adapt. What’s the mix?

HP uses four strategies: top down with ideas being introduced from above; bottom up meaning encouraging ideas to come from below; open innovation meaning in collaboration with other agents outside the company, and the continual creation of new business models or new markets.

Catalonia in Business