Exclusive Interview with Pranav Chandna, Country Director, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Financial Services (HPEFS) India

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Sandhya: Today we are going to talk about HPE Financial Services. As we know HPE Financial Services helps customers determine smart and effective ways to invest in technology to make their business great. Helping customers change the economies of IT, HPEFS today delivers a full range of leasing, financing and lifecycle asset management services.

The company develops financial solutions that enhance customer’s ability to deploy an IT infrastructure that meets their needs today and into the future. HPEFS as we know is the captive finance company for Hewlett Packard Enterprise and has over $13 billion in portfolio assets in more than 50 countries today.

HPEFS combines the technology insights of a CIO with the financial acumen of CFO to create sustainable, innovative IT infrastructure management strategies. As we know in April this year HPEFS globally announced a $2 billion in financing and new programs to help its customers and partners weather COVID-19. In India the services arm has helped customers with their financial challenges stemming from the COVID-19 crisis including cash flow as well as the liquidity crisis. To talk more on this and on the innovative service that HPEFS offers, we are delighted to have with us Mr. Pranav Chandna, Country Director, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Financial Services (HPEFS), India.

Sandhya: Welcome Pranav to this exclusive interview with CRN India. Pranav as I talked about the financial services which HPEFS introduced especially for its partners and customers, this $2 billion financing program, so I just want to begin by asking if you could just throw some light on this financing solution by HPEFS which is helping its customers and partners, can you give us an overview?

Pranav: First of all thank you Sandhya for having me today with you to discuss about HPE Financial Services and I think you put a great introduction to what we do in terms of providing solutions for our customers and help create what we define as investment capacity so that the customers can accelerate their transformation.

Now, I love the thing that you mentioned about being the CIO and CFO for our customers and we would like to call ourselves as the CIFO for our customers because we truly believe that we bring technical insights of a CIO and the financial acumen of a CFO which helps our customers to go forward with their innovative sustainable management strategies as you defined it.

We have been partnering with our customers in terms of helping them move forward with their transformation by creating these investment capabilities and capacities. Now HPEFS globally is headquartered in the US and we boast of close to about 1500+ employees globally and we operate in 52 different countries. Now what it does for our customers clearly is we continue to be relationship based which means we ensure that we understand the needs of our customers in totality and then help them to look at how best they can use their investments for their future growth. Now that’s where again we spoke about the CIFO concept bringing it all together. We do it uniquely because we try and understand their entire IT asset portfolio through their asset lifecycle and then create strategies based on their aspiration, size and the way they want to grow. And the best part about this entire thing is we do it from edge to cloud to end user environment and this is where we bring in a lot of relevance.

Now this is what we do globally. But in India we are a registered NBFC with RBI and we have been here for now close to two decades extending leasing financing solutions but I would like to see HPEFS as a asset management company where we can help customers through the asset lifecycle rather than just being looked upon as a non-banking finance company providing leasing and financing solutions. So that’s what HPEFS does in India and globally. But these have been extremely difficult and unprecedented last 6 months and I think no customer or no industry has been left unaffected and HPEFS globally decided that since we work with all our customers on a relationship basis, this is our time to work with them and give support that they need and that is how we developed the $2 billion payment relief and support to our customers and partners.

We looked at different aspects in terms of how we can help our customers and we bucketed ourselves into three key things that we felt our customers need the support maximum on, which is in these difficult times that you can all understand budgets are going to be constrained, discretionary spends are all cut down and cash truly becomes the king as we normally say and in these difficult times even more evidently so and I think that’s where we said let’s help our customers to create cash out of their legacy assets or unlock the gold that is already there with them on their portfolio. So that’s one thing that we worked in a big way in terms of what we define as accelerated migration, so the assets that the customers already have on their balance sheet becomes a real source of capital/cash with them. And this has seen a great traction built up during the COVID period and we have been able to help customers to add capital to their budgets.

We also realised that a lot of customers might want to get out of this situation and not be in a position to start paying immediately and that’s when we looked at what we define as the 90 days deferral program where we help customers to acquire technology today so that they don’t have to delay the transformation that they had already projected or worked upon and they start the transformation and start only paying after 90 days. The unique piece that we incorporated was the 2020 payment relief where we gave a kind of nine months period for the customers to settle down, only pay a small portion of their committed rentals and once businesses start to get back to normalcy they are in a position to start repaying, so these are some of the programs that we started and we have seen great traction building up and HPEFS in a position of strength to help our customers.

Just one area that I would like to also delve upon is while we are a captive IT finance company but we do realise our customers also acquire technologies at the edge, on the cloud as well as on end user which might not be truly HPE all the time. Hence one of the key differentiations that we feel we offer to our customers is we think we are able to extend our solutions some of these assets which are not truly not only HPE OEM transactions, so I think that’s where we bring a multi-vendor multi technology mind-set into play and help our customers through the end to end solutions looking at all technologies in the right way.

Sandhya: It is really well put by you Pranav, it’s kind of comprehensive and the benefits you have talked about to your partners and customers. I just want to know since a lot of things have been changed, IT has kind of emerged as a true winner. As you talked about, you are trying hard to not let go of this digital transformation journey which lot of enterprises have embarked upon and now they are kind of facing lot of financial challenges, so I just want to know that over the months, do you see there are some unique buying trends in the enterprises, can you share some of the buying trends in the enterprise sector?

Pranav: Absolutely, I think you mentioned clearly that these times have been very challenging and what the customers really planned was more or less toppled by the events that we have seen and effectively the budgets were really cut down and IT transformation in some shape and form took a big hit during the starting months which is April and May. But as a resilient country that we are, we see customers really bouncing back in a true sense of vengeance in coming back and not giving up in the digital journey because it is no longer good to do, it is must to do.

With the employees working from home with the customers working from home, you need to have a platform which can help both the customers and the employees to still continue to interact and that has led to the shift in terms of going after the right technologies. But at the same time while these shifts did happen we also saw that there were constraints about how they go about executing on these budgets because they were cut down.

I think I must quote one of the good examples that we saw during this period, so one of our key customers Pine Labs which is one of the leading point of sale payment service providers in the country, had planned some of the great IT transformation work that they would do within 2020 which will put them and their customers in the forefront and then because of the situation at hand they were constrained in terms of how they go ahead in moving forward with the required needs and that’s where we went ahead and understood the challenges that they faced and we looked at how we could infuse cash back into the organisation and we offered one of the COVID-19 programs called the accelerated migration which helped the customer to unlock cash from their existing assets and then they were able to infuse that money immediately for the transformation needs.

So effectively we are seeing the buying trends changing from what was really being put as the need before all the events happening to what is a must today in terms of some of these initiatives that I just mentioned. So I am trying to cover what HPEFS and HPE and some of our customers are saying.

Sandhya: Pranav as you just talked about the accelerated migration, I just want to know how do you see the increase of adoption of this particular thing and can you also club it with your payment relief program, do you think there has been a strong uptake of this service as part of this program which you started for helping your customers and partners?

Pranav: Truly, both accelerated migration and payment relief has shown a great uptake in the last quarter or so, effectively customers really looking at exploiting some of these options so that, one if they were looking at their budgets being constrained they were looking at accelerated migration to help them get capital from their existing assets but more critically customers were keen to exploit the payment relief program because effectively for the new procurements that they had planned they wanted some kind of relief before they start paying because the business did see a kind of a low rate in terms of revenue growth and because of which the cash flows of our customers were impacted. At the same time the customers wanted to ensure that they continue with their innovation budgets and move forward with the transformation, so the payment relief helped them to be in a position to acquire the technology but only pay once they have started using these assets and in case of payment relief they kind of get almost 8-9 months of period before they start paying the full rentals.

Here again I can quote one of our customers which is Prime Focus, which is an integrated media and entertainment company, which provides facilities to both Bollywood and Hollywood, unfortunately the entertainment industry did go through a difficult period, as all of us know gatherings beyond a limited group of people was not permitted and hence there was no production really happening. But the company realised that once this thing slows down, they will need to be at the helm of it and they cannot stop the process of transformation and hence they were wanting to ahead with the modernisation. So they took the support of both the payment relief as well as the accelerated migration to catapult their IT investment and accelerate in terms of how they can move forward, so again we are seeing good uptake of these assets or solutions in certain industries who were may be impacted more than the others. We have seen entertainment, we have seen manufacturing come up to look at these solutions, which has really helped them with their transformation. So in a nutshell more and more customers even today as we speak are approaching us in terms of how we can facilitate their budgets as well as how we can integrate our offerings along with HPE and some of the other OEMs

Sandhya: Pranav I also want to know from you, are these services catering to a set of companies or is it also open to SMBs and SMEs type of companies because as we know that they are really in the need of this kind of financial support. So are you open to all types of companies because your solutions are catering to SMBs also, can you throw some light on that?

Pranav: I think that’s a great question Sandhya because honestly I would have definitely touched upon this topic because I truly believe that HPEFS caters to the entire segments in the spectrum that are there in the market and SMB was the key sector that had to bear the brunt more than the other sectors may be. So we are looking at all industry verticals and we are working with all segments whether it is the enterprises or the small and medium businesses who are in the need of these solutions and the aim that HPEFS has clearly is to work with our partners/customers and try to understand their pain points and effectively give the right solutions.

So it’s not about one shoe fits all, so if we have certain programs then we only start pushing it across the board, but we truly believe in terms of understanding the pain that our customer is undergoing and then trying to come up with the right solution. So effectively some of these solutions have been continued to being used by even the small and medium businesses

Sandhya: Pranav my last question to you is like the $2 billion financing program that you launched, can you tell how long this program will be there for the partners/customers, what are the key highlights and benefits so far the customers have really availed from this financing help?

Pranav: so I think I must admit based on the popular demand from the partners as well as our customers, we have extended the payment relief program till the end of this year because we truly believe that the purpose is to be able to support and help our customers even through these challenging times and currently as all of us know we don’t have a clear visibility till when this will continue.

So HPEFS globally decided that we will extend the payment relief program till the end of December 2020. The key highlights that I would definitely have people remember about this program is one-effectively HPEFS is there to help which means if you are stuck with your IT transformation then you know you have a partner who can definitely work with you in terms of constructing a solution and when we say that it is based on the track we have seen where our customers have really taken the benefits of these programs and have been able to move forward in their journey in terms of helping their employees as well as their customers, so that’s part number one where any customer is looking at any solutions around financing/leasing, they know who to reach out to.

We are multi-vendor/multi technology financing organisation and we create right financial vitality for you which means we can help you to construct the right solution. Again we have been able to help our customers infuse capital back into their budgets, if I have to talk of some numbers, globally HPEFS pumped in or infused about $1.3 billion in the last four years into customers budget using accelerated migration and asset life cycling services and the values of these investments range between as low as $23000 to as high as $ 94 million.

So we have the capability and the capacity to support all the needs that our customers may have. So effectively look at us for any technology, anytime and anywhere and with our global presence we can definitely bring on consistencies to help you achieve your goal.

So I think to summarise whatever I said, the program is still on whether you are an SMB, a local large corporate or  enterprise, our solutions will cater to your needs as you deem fit and call on us and let us be your CIFO who can really give you the right solutions for your journey on IT transformation.

Sandhya: Thanks Pranav for sharing the insights and nuggets on each of these programs you just talked about, I am sure our readers would really love listening to you. And I look forward to have more of such interesting conversations with you going forward. Thanks Pranav.


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