As the leader of both IT and operations, John Hinshaw is uniquely positioned to get HP back on track.
As for the company's global deployment of on-premises SAP software, which HP calls the largest on the planet, Hinshaw says MRP/ERP in the cloud at "HP scale" isn't quite ready for prime time. But he thinks it will be in three to five years.
HP is also a voracious user of its own tech products -- and an unabashed self-promoter of that usage. In the area of big data, for instance, it says it's using its own Vertica product to analyze click-stream data to better understand shopping behavior and patterns on HP.com. It's also using Vertica to identify and group common sequences that lead to product warranty events, in an attempt to reduce warranty costs. And it's using its Autonomy software to prioritize its high volume of end-of-quarter orders according to profit margin and other factors so that the most profitable and important orders don't spill into the next quarter.
Besides big data, the other three technology megatrends in HP's current world are cloud, security and mobility. But it's not promoting itself as the be-all-and-end-all in each segment -- it's more rounded in security and big data, for instance, than it is in mobile and cloud. As for breakthrough innovations, Hinshaw called out HP's Moonshot ARM servers and 3Par StoreOnce Backup systems.
The company's turnaround goes much deeper than products. It's a hugely complex undertaking that requires turning a bureaucratic, culturally hidebound behemoth into a growth-oriented innovator worthy of its two legendary founders. Hinshaw says the culture was "confused" when he joined the company.
Among the steps HP is taking to promote an entrepreneurial culture: All offices at the Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters, including those of the top execs, are now cubicles, encouraging co-workers to stop by or shout over a wall rather than plod through endless email strings or secure time on each other's calendars. "It really speeds our decision-making," Hinshaw says. HP has also formed a group called the "bureaucracy busters," whose 20 dedicated people from HR, IT, finance and shared services have started crowdsourcing ideas submitted by employees for improving the way the company conducts business. It's a start.
Hinshaw says customers want to see three main things from HP right now: stability and a consistent strategy (which it has had for 18 months); renewed product innovation (there are signs, but the jury's still out); and "one HP face" as they buy from multiple company units (Hinshaw's role across the organization is helping to grease those skids).
Even longer term, what HP also needs to build is an identity. Under the Mark Hurd regime, it was mostly about cost cutting and efficiency. Under the short-lived Leo Apotheker era, it was about exiting the PC and mobile device businesses (Whitman later pulled back) to focus on higher-margin software and services. Whitman, who Hinshaw calls "the hardest-working boss I ever had" and someone "who can fly at 100,000 feet as well as 500," seems content with maintaining HP's product diversity while emphasizing speed, agility and customer focus.
The company's laying the groundwork, but the heavy lifting is far from over.
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