Drew Turney June 08, 2012
A worker walks into HP's headquarters in Palo Alto, California. The company held is annual customer event in Las Vegas this week.
HP chief executive officer Meg Whitman did her best to retain customer loyalty this week when she addressed attendees at the company's Discover 2012 conference in Las Vegas.
Without mentioning the 27,000 jobs she plans to slash to save $US3.5 billion a year, Whitman outlined the company's global strategy before ending with a list of natural disasters from Christchurch, New Zealand, to Sendai, Japan, where HP people had been 'helping customers get back on their feet and communities get back up and running'.
Whitman concentrated on highlighting her commitment to the customer – she used the word 'you' prodigiously, repeating the refrain "helping customers meet objectives" often.
She outlined a four pillar strategy: hardware, software, services and solutions.
"That's our future," she said adding that 70 per cent of current revenues came from infrastructure items such as PCs, printers, servers, storage and networking.
Instead of farming out hardware manufacturing to other vendors as some competitors did, HP was in a good position because of its expertise, she said.
"With the right R&D and the right customer connections, we ought to be able to stay ahead."
She outlined three areas of investment which would enable the business: cloud computing – it already has 180 private clouds under management - information optimisation, and security.
"We're differentiated by the breadth of our portfolio and... our approach to partnership and openness," Whitman said.
Systems built on HP's single open architecture would make it easier for customers to move data between private, public, hybrid and managed cloud services, while single management software tools would make cloud projects easy to redeploy, even if between HP and competitors.
The open access also supported security, she said, and recent acquisitions of data analysis software vendors Vertica and Autonomy would enable customers to have real-time security oversight.
"With mobile and cloud, the access points and infinite threats have become far more sophisticated and unpredictable, and an enterprise can never be completely secure," Whitman said.
The acquisitions would also allow customers to extract business intelligence (BI) from the exponential growth of unstructured data resulting from the growth in use of mobile devices, social networks and online services.
Like other vendors, Whitman said BI would help with 'getting the most from your information, turning information into insight and better decision making'.
The former eBay chief executive and one-time candidate for the job of Governor of California did acknowledge the turmoil the company was experiencing at the time she joined by saying such periods could "take a toll on companies, employees and shareholders".
Then, by sharing the stage with long-time customer and CEO of animation filmmaker DreamWorks, Jeffrey Katzenberg , she rubber-stamped her own performance.
Katzenberg, whose company uses HP's computing power to crunch data on its catalogue of computer animated films, sang the vendor's praises and said it seemed to have a good strategy for the future and the means to execute it.
That's a view shared by Ovum director of research Kevin Noonan in Australia, who said Whitman was correct in refocusing the company and eliminating some bureaucracy.
The LA-based writer attended HP Discover 2012 as a guest of the company.