Why HP is thinking beyond ink for subscriptions

A Q&A with Diana Sroka, HP’s Global Head of Consumer Print Services.

By Sarah Murry — May 10, 2022

In the more than two decades that Diana Sroka has been at HP, her career has charted an uncommon course. With a background in mechanical engineering and an MBA, she’s held leadership roles in finance, the office of the CEO (under Dion Weisler and Enrique Lores), the HP Store, investor relations, and more. Her current position as global head of consumer print services has brought the breadth of her experience to the next step in her journey.

“I’ve had a winding road because HP provided so many interesting opportunities for what I’d call a nontraditional career path,” she says. “When COVID-19 happened, I said to myself, ‘What do I want to be next?’”

Today, she leads HP’s Instant Ink business, which is paving the way for one of the fastest-growing areas of the company: subscription services.

Instant Ink was “an entirely homegrown success” for the company, Sroka explains. It enrolled its first customer eight years ago, and today counts more than 11 million active subscribers. Instant Ink is one of a few businesses at HP that are seeing double-digit revenue growth year over year, according to data shared with investors at the 2021 Securities Analyst Meeting.


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“Instant Ink is the largest consumer service that HP has, and we developed the program from the bottom up,” Sroka says. “It’s proven that HP can transition from transactional to contractual relationships with our customers and bring innovation not just to the products we sell, but also to new business models.”

Diana Sroka, HP's global head of consumer print services.

Diana Sroka, HP's global head of consumer print services.

In 2022, her division is piloting a few new models in select markets, including an all-inclusive Print-as-a-Service (PaaS) subscription and add-ons to Instant Ink in adjacent categories, such as paper. 

Innovation spoke with Sroka from her home office in Los Gatos, California, where she lives with her three teenagers and explores the waterways of the Sacramento Delta in her downtime.

What do you see as the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for HP at this moment?

We now speak of individuals’ work and personal lives as blended, especially those working from home. That trend is HP’s challenge and opportunity. We need to leverage our innovation engine to develop solutions to address this hybrid space.

What insights have you gained from the millions of customers who subscribe to Instant Ink?

We had a surge of new subscribers worldwide during the different lockdown periods in 2020 and 2021, which tells us that people realize printing is essential in their daily lives. One takeaway from the pandemic is that our value proposition for Instant Ink is even more relevant in this “new normal” life. For example, we make it very easy for customers to change their monthly plans, or roll over unused pages for a few months as their printing usage varies.

What kind of feedback are you getting from Instant Ink subscribers?

They really love the convenience of the service. I read the customer commentary and laugh — some say they feel like Santa has come to their front door every time they get their ink replenishment package.

And on the flip side, what feedback prompted improvements?

Every cancellation gives us insights on what to improve. For example, we were seeing cancellations due to extended summer or winter holidays. So we implemented a temporary hold option, which people use if they know they’ll be either away from their home or just away from printing for a period of time. We had some customers experiencing overage [charges], and we realized we have some truly high-frequency users, so why not have a really high-page plan? We now have plans that start at 10 pages per month and go all the way up to 1,500 pages per month. We also introduced a smart intervention tool so that if a customer is canceling, we find out why, and provide them with alternatives at that moment that could perhaps retain them.

What is the thinking behind experimental offerings like PaaS?

How do we help our customers just “set it and forget it” so all their printing needs are met? For a low monthly price, consumers will be able to select the printer of their choice with the page plans that Instant Ink has today. They will have the right to upgrade or refresh that printer at a point in time; or if they have an issue with their printer, we will fix it or get them a new one overnight. The top reported benefit is the convenience of a single, all-inclusive subscription service. A second benefit is no longer having to shop for printers and ink.

How can a service like Instant Ink help small businesses that have fewer resources?

We’re expanding the features of the Instant Ink subscription service to address small-business customers, especially those with newly hybrid workforces. Think of a company that has fewer than 10 printers and isn’t large enough to have a managed IT environment. We believe we’re going to unlock a whole new market opportunity that we haven’t been able to address.

What surprises you most about your job?

The concept of Instant Ink is so simple, but the technology and ongoing innovation required to deliver the service are complex. Behind the scenes, we have a global, cross-functional team who work closely together to make this happen each and every day. I enjoy stitching those efforts together, making sure people feel connected — and we manage to have some fun, too.