The question I get asked the most by my friends in the 3D printing space is when big printing firms such as HP will enter the market.

Truth be told its a question that we’ve had for some time now and we got to sit down with HP Inc’s Vice President and Managing Director emerging markets in the Middle East and Africa region, Andre Bodson, and ask him exactly that.

Andre Bodson, MD Emerging Markets, EMEA.

“The 3D printing market in terms of business is still relatively new but it has the potential to disrupt the global manufacturing supply chain,” Bodson tells us.

The VP says that 3D printing is definitely on HP Inc’s radar, but it wants to enter the market in the right way and ensure that it can offer a level of service that HP customers have come to expect.

“At HP Inc. we’re currently looking into creating the right ecosystem along with sourcing the right materials. We also want to make sure that we’re working with the right firms that are already in this space,” explains Bodson.

It’s also worth noting that when HP does enter the 3D printing market (if at all) it will be from a business perspective rather than a consumer one.

The pillars of HP

HP Inc has three pillars which drive its decision making process. Those three pillars are Core, Growth and Future.

The Core pillar deals with the hardware that HP already manufactures and sells to consumers. The VP tells us that this part of the business aims to make printers cool again and keep up the standard’s the firm has built for itself.

Within the sphere of the Growth pillar, HP wants to grow its A3 business, improve the security of its devices (which you can read more about that here) and grow its Device-as-a-service business.

Speaking about device-as-a-service Bodson says, “Customers want more flexibility in how they consume technology and we want to help them consume IT in a more serious way.”

To the future Jeeves

The most exciting pillar however is Future and Bodson gave us some great insight into where the firm wants to be in the future.

“We are looking at immersive and VR technologies in the future including the office of the future and how we can adapt technologies to suit the workplace of the future,” he says.

Interestingly, Bodson states that Africa is a hotbed for innovation and the firm is taking queues from millennials and how they work to improve its services for the future.

“In some markets, Kenya for example, users are leapfrogging technology. 70 percent of Kenyans use a mobile phone to do monetary transactions, compared to roughly 20 percent in the US,” says Bodson.

As you may be aware in the absence of fixed line connectivity and other niceities from the West, Africa made hay and developed its own solutions to connect to the internet. Mobile connections are ubiquitous in countries such as Nigeria, Rwanda and Kenya and HP Inc recognises that.

“We are thinking about the millenials who come into a working environment with a number of devices and perhaps want to print wirelessly. We also need to take into consideration the security threat that presents and make sure that our products can protect a company while still allowing for the flexibility that the office of the future will require,” explains Bodson.

And what about right now?

Surprisingly HP Inc isn’t waiting until the future to arm Africans with the ability to become heavyweights in business.

During our discussion Bodson mentioned a service called HP Life and it’s rather fantastic.

HP Life offers free education courses for entrepreneurs.

HP Life is a business education portal that is free to use and offers digital education on a variety of business focused topics including inventory management, sales forecasting and more. All you need to enroll in a course is an account which you can create for free or you can link an existing Facebook, Google or LinkedIn account and start learning right away.

“Education is the big limiting factor and we want to lessen that barrier for people,” says Bodson, “We’ve also contributed $20 million to the education of 100 million entrepreneurs.”

There is still a lot of work to do but HP is not ignoring emerging technologies, it simply wants to make sure it does them right and who can blame them.

[Main Image – CC 0 Pixabay]