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December 2000

European users show off e applications on 3000s

Let’s Go e! seminar offers tools and stories of Web success

In an airport conference center at the heart of Amsterdam a new version of an old HP 3000 tradition took place: a meeting of customers to strut success, with nary a contrary word about market or marketing.

The e3000’s Commercial Systems Division (CSY) operates its European business with an independent attitude, and HP managers there took the liberty to create an old-fashioned brag session, where customers did most of the talking.

The meetings took place in the Sheraton conference center of the Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, as central a location as could be had across European territory. In both rooms a row of translation booths served to deliver the presentations in five languages, so customers could speak in their native tongues and everyone could be understood. Wireless headsets broadcast simultaneous translations. HP collected $365 per attendee to help defray the cost; 90 customers and partners attended from 14 countries.

Attendees had already taken steps toward Internet integration. “All of the users I spoke with were already doing some kind of e-something, whether elementary or quite advanced,” said Adager CEO Rene Woc, one of the MPE business partners at the meeting. “Some of them clearly were there to see what others were doing, a nice user interaction.

“It had a lot of the flavor of the good old days. The emphasis was not on sponsorships, but an exchange of information with HP’s help.” Lars Appel and Sally Blackwell of CSY Europe demonstrated Apache, Samba and Java for attendees in one hands-on lab session.

The message was realistic in a business sense, too. “The title of my presentation — “A Hell Ride on the Road to Paradise?” — is meant to provoke you,” said Joachim Geffken, the keynote speaker who started the seminar. Geffken, formerly a board member of Interex and now a management consultant, said that EDI’s promise might be realized because e-business networks are far wider than their predecessors.

“The momentum of the new e-business world has been mainly fueled by worldwide availability,” he said. “This was, on the other hand, never true for EDI. And what is happening in the end-user and consumer area was never achievable with EDI. So there’s hope we can get much farther with e-business.”

Geffken added a word of caution. “Even in the user friendly Web world, we still widely accepted business transaction standards. And they may become as complicated as EDI formats turned out to be.”

The day’s premier presentation, delivered to all attendees, came from Peter Herpich, IT manager for power loom manufacturer Lindauer-Dornier. The company has opened up a new communications channel with its worldwide customers, Herpich said, using the Enhydra Web application server and Java/iX on its HP 3000.

Herpich, who’s been managing HP 3000s for 21 years, hired an independent consulting group to develop the parts ordering application. What he learned was that Java expertise transfers easily to the e3000, and he didn’t have to look for developers trained in both the 3000 and Java.

The consultants, Transparent Solutions, built the application on an NT system, but it performed slowly there. “I said I’m not happy,” he reported. “I said no problem: bring it to the HP 3000.” HP’s Lars Appel assisted Transparent Solutions, and the Java application was ported to the e3000 in six hours.

Starting with 90 customers using the Web application, the company is now serving more than 900. “For me it was a surprise,” Herpich said. “It’s a success. I now have 60 percent of our spare parts orders processed electronically. We have a new communication channel with the customers. More and more customers call and say, ‘This is great — can you change the program for me?’ ”

Herpich said he has no faith in Microsoft’s solutions, adding that a problem with a Microsoft system means “you have to install it new. I don’t want to use a replacement technology for three years, and then have to reinvest again.” He also noted that, “you don’t need specially trained HP 3000 people to create new applications on that machine. The consultants worked on an order system in Java, and brought it to the HP e3000.”

After his presentation, Herpich joked that he sees the 3000 investment of his company paying off for his staff, too. “I can always tell which of our staff is working with the 3000. They have a tan in the summer, while the other people do not.”

BridgeMaster and insurance

Lumley Insurance Consultants, Ltd. showed off success using the new BridgeMaster software from Computing Solutions Ltd. (CSL), an HP e3000 channel partner which sells the Linkway ODBC solution. Lumley sells insurance products to Ford and Vuxhall auto dealers in the UK and Europe, as well as Piaggo, BT and Fiat/Alfa Romeo. Other products include home insurance, travel insurance and service plans. “We cover everything from bikes to boilers, cookers to cars,” said CEO Gerry Rushe. “They’re all handled differently, but increasingly clients wish to cross-sell.”

The HP 3000 application at Lumley has been expanded by CSL, building on a 20-year old system. BridgeMaster allows the core applications on the HP e3000 to access data from an NT server running the SQL Server database. “There’s nothing frightening about adopting NT technology with the HP 3000,” said CSL’s Robin Foley. The B2B application developed for Lumley uses an NT 4 Server in conjunction with data on the HP e3000. “If you find the right partner in the country you’re in, you can use the HP 3000 on the Internet.”

Lumley’s Rushe said his firm now has an extranet, and each dealer has it own individual Web site for quoting, printing and selling insurance within minutes. Customers can use a shopping basket approach in the experience. “By the close of this year we’ll have 50 percent of our business being transacted over the Internet,” Rushe said, citing elimination of errors and 24x7 availability.

“It’s a huge competitive advantage,” he said. “We’re only just beginning to scratch the surface, with increased sophistication of our rating models.” The extranet lets Lumley collect 38 different sets of criteria, “which means that our sophistication in pricing, and therefore the competitiveness, can also move on.”

HP representatives at the meeting kept a secondary profile to customers like Lumley and Lindauer-Dornier. But CSY Product Marketing Manager Loretta Li-Sevilla made the trek from the HP 3000 headquarters, telling customers that “the 3000 is a rock solid foundation for an Internet future. With the 3000 as your platform of choice, that future is unlimited.”

CSY Europe Regional Business Manager Alexandra Wiedenmann said, “We will provide you with the products, technologies to help you move into the e-world. Nothing should stop you from Let’s Go e!”


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