This should boost the regional IT services staff to 6,500 workers, including 2,000 consultants, said Cheah Kean Huat, HP Asia-Pacific vice president and general manager for services.
Cheah expects the number of consultants to hit 4,000 by October 2003 as part of HP's ongoing effort to boost its consulting business.
The hiring came in the wake of a cost-cutting move to lay off up to 3,000 HP management staff worldwide amidst a slowdown in the technology sector.
"We are investing heavily in IT services, as it is the fastest-growing (unit) in HP," Cheah said at an analyst and press briefing Tuesday. "Services will become the next growth engine for HP."
For the financial year ended October 2000, HP's services arm contributed $7.1 billion to the company's total revenue of $48 billion. The company's services business grew 45 percent last year, said Cheah, who declined to provide a revenue breakdown by region.
However, he noted that the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is "looking at double-digit growth" for its services business worldwide this year.
HP's aggressive expansion into services was evident when it extended its three-year alliance with Accenture in early May.
The partnership followed the launch of its revamped services division, HP Services, in March to venture beyond providing support for its own technology and products. Specifically, HP is looking at putting its foot in the lucrative areas of outsourcing and management consulting.
The Accenture deal came after a failed attempt to acquire the consulting arm of Big Five accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers last November. HP had announced its intent to buy PWC's consulting practice for about $18 billion in cash and stock two months earlier.
Going forward, Cheah said that HP's strategy involves partnering different services firms to target specific vertical markets--including manufacturing, retail and government--to give IBM Global Services a run for its money. For instance, HP announced a partnership with PWC to target the transportation industry worldwide.
Staff writer Irene Tham reported from Singapore.