3) Mobile. In a research note late last week, Wells Fargo Securities senior analyst Jason Maynard included "What about mobile?" as one of his four key questions for HP to address today. That's the perfect way to frame the question: what about mobile, HP? Are you going to try to compete in smartphones with Apple and BlackBerry and Android—not to mention your good friends at Microsoft? Or is Palm all about printers? And what about tablets? And what about helping your CIO customers seamelessly weave corporate apps and data into bullet-proof mobile networks? In short, what about mobile?
4) Data Centers. A couple of years ago, under the brilliant work of executive vice president and CIO Randy Mott, HP completed one of the largest IT projects ever as it transformed the company's business processes and workflows in line with a parallel transformation of HP's global IT architecture, infrastructure, and operations. That effort—which has reduced HP's IT costs by billions of dollars—included the consolidation of 85 global data centers down to six next-generation centers. Has HP packaged up all that knowledge and all those lessons and all that technology into Transformation Solutions for its customers? If not, why not?
Here's Wells Fargo's Maynard on what HP must address with analysts about its data-center strategy: "The recent spate of enterprise-centric acquisitions further reinforces our point that HP has been late to adapt their strategy to the rapidly transforming and consolidating data-center market. We are concerned that if they don't successfully pivot and lock down their existing market share they are at risk of slower growth and margin deterioration. The pace of data-center change is happening even faster than we had contemplated, and in our view time is not HP's friend."
5) The New CEO. This spot, already high-profile given HP's global brand and its stature as the largest IT company in the world, has in the past two months taken on far greater notoriety with the board's sudden ouster of former CEO Mark Hurd in early August. While all the points raised above are extremely important and must be addressed by HP execs today and the CEO after he/she is in place, I would also urge that new HP leader to be aggressive in changing HP's image from "the world's largest manufacturer of PCs" (boilerplate language in the mainstream media) and "the infrastructure company" (Hurd's ineffective positioning of the company a year ago) to one that delivers to its customers not just superb products and technologies and services but also ongoing knowledge and business value and expertise.
In a recent column called Global CIO: Hewlett-Packard's New CEO: The Top 10 Challenges, I suggested a huge step in that direction would be for the new CEO to establish the HP Center for Business Value: "Demonstrate that new focus with a set of clear and ambitious goals around customer retention and brand trust, around setting new technology-performance standards, and around the delivery of new levels of definable business value to customers (and thereby to shareholders) that no one else in the industry can match.
"On that last point, I would recommend a long discussion with your longtime partners at SAP about their "value engineering" portfolio, which is a knowledge base of customers' processes, best practices, innovations, and more. Is there a Center For Business Value in HP's future?"
HP finds itself at a point where its capabilities can offer enormous potential for future growth and success, or where its sheer mass might be overwhelming the company's ability to move opportunistically with great focus and speed and energy.
Today's analyst call will tell us a lot about which direction HP is headed in.
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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