HP’s Divide-and-Rule Strategy

Where innovations fail gimmicks and hype sell!

The Divide-and-Rule policy is no longer the domain of the British. Even more, it is not just confined to politics but has been embraced by business as well. Where innovations fail gimmicks and hype sell!

Even today those familiar with Indian history will not hesitate to put some of the country’s woes on the colonial rule. Trade and business turned out to be a pretext for the invaders to take control of the country, exploit the religious, linguistic and social diversity within and create divisions and disunity among the people.

The “one nation-two- system” concept that was accepted in 1997 with the handover of Hong Kong to China is another example of Britain’s politics of duality put in place to suit its own convenience.

But let’s keep politics aside and look at the splitting of HP into two divisions that was in the news today. Reports indicate that HP is set for a breakup. Once that is formalised, HP’s computer and printer businesses will be spun off  from its corporate hardware and services operations and made separate entities.

Failed to Tap Mobile and Online Revolution

In an era where newbies such as Google and Amazon are dominating the technology landscape, riding the mobile and online wave that has made Apple’s innovations click, companies such as HP and Microsoft have missed the bus and are seeking to redeem themselves with such tricks. That tactic only betrays their inability to face the challenge with meaningful market strategies and an effective support mechanism that could make its customers stick with them.

Even as I was watching business news on TV that was relaying HP’s planned split, I was having issues with both its product and its support levels. I bought a HP top-of-the-range i7 desktop with a fourth-generation processor and a 23-inch full HD monitor recently. It runs on Windows 8.1 and has a licensed Microsoft Office installed. 

Windows 8 has been a disaster since its launch, with Microsoft’s innovations only proving regressive in evolution. It takes a future Windows 10 to bring back the useful Start button of the past that Windows 8 did away with! HP and Microsoft are thus a lethal combination.

Support Issue with HP – Are Singapore Customers Being Shortchanged?

Back to the HP  issue, the last few days whenever I powered the PC on it has been asking me to activate Windows as well as Office. It came preloaded without any CD, so I initiated a chat with its support desk (which I figured is in India) to have the problem resolved.

To do that, I had to complete a simple form with my phone number that should have made it clear I am from Singapore. But, after a couple of minutes into the chat, the support analyst asked me where I was based. When I told her my location she said she was dedicated to supporting customers from the U.S. and Canada and so cannot help me with my issue.

She then gave me a Singapore number to call for technical support. As today was a holiday in Singapore none picked it up.  So I asked her if customers here would only have to call the Singapore support phone line and not through the chat facility she replied in the affirmative.

For another problem with the same PC I had chatted online with another support analyst only two days ago. That nailed her lie!

Also, when I questioned her as to why she picked up my request when she was only supporting customers in North America she evaded a direct reply. When the form I completed first clearly showed that I was from Singapore, my request should have been picked up by a desk dedicated for ASEAN. Why should finding location details be a problem in the new-generation Web era? I was also told her database did not have my product details.

The chat was a waste of my time!

Cosmetic changes, downsizing and low-cost destinations for support are often lapped up by companies as an easy way out of a slump in business and revenues. Leadership mediocrity that thrives through empty talk and shortsighted measures will only help perpetuate their failures, not lift the companies out of the pits they have fallen into!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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October 6, 2014 · 3:05 pm

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