HP buys Exstream Software, focuses on VDP potential

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Variable-data printing and one-to-one marketing haven't been ex­ploited to their full potential, according to Hewlett-Packard, which has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ex­stream Software. The deal is expected to close in March.

“We're still in the early stages of compa­nies learning how to communicate more effectively with customers,” said David Murphy, SVP of HP's imaging and printing group, adding that HP wants “to expand this category very quickly.”

By combining its technology with HP's printing market position and cus­tomer base, Extream's goal is to be able to bring these solutions to more markets in a quicker time frame. It believes that there is more rich media and rich pub­lishing that can be delivered via VDP that isn't currently taking advantage of the technology, according to Murphy.

“There's a lot of value-add that we can bring to the financial services and insur­ance industries in transpromo because the guys that have done it well so far are rare,” he continued. Transpromo docu­ments combine transactional documents like a credit card statement with relevant data — such as a cross-sell promotion based on a recent purchase — to create a more personalized document that func­tions as a marketing vehicle as well.

Another area where HP sees oppor­tunity to expand the use of VDP is in the retail industry. “Most major retailers do generic circulars, generic couponing — nothing that is truly innovative,” Mur­phy said, adding that few have tailored their customer communications using demographic and other relevant data.

However, HP sees the potential to ap­ply Exstream's technology across many verticals. “The fact that Exstream has several hundred customers and doesn't have a single vertical” that it is dominant in was appealing to HP, Murphy said. “We're an enterprise global business and we want to serve multiple verticals.”

Upon completion of the acquisition, Exstream will be integrated into the Web services and software business unit within the imaging and printing group of HP. In fiscal year 2006, the imaging and printing group accounted for 29% of HP's overall revenue.

Exstream customers include Ameri­can Express, Charles Schwab, Aflac, the US Department of Education, Con Edi­son and Carnival Cruise Lines. It pro­vides enterprise software products that streamline document creation processes and produce personalized communica­tions of all types of delivery through print/mail and online channels.  

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