Global CIO: An Open Letter To HP Chairman Ray Lane - InformationWeek

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Bob Evans
Bob Evans

Global CIO: An Open Letter To HP Chairman Ray Lane

While lashing Mark Hurd publicly probably felt good, it achieved little or nothing for HP's customers and employees, and you need to focus on the future.

1) CEO Leo Apotheker. You say Apotheker is the perfect guy for HP. That's great—let's hear why, in Apotheker's own words. Let's hear about HP's new strategy that Apotheker will lead and execute. Let's hear how Apotheker will resolve HP's gaps in software, how he'll reconcile its split personality wrought by offering everything from data centers to PCs, and how he will define a unique and customer-centric value proposition for HP.

2) HP and Oracle. The long-time and lucrative HP alliance with Oracle: can it survive the thunderbolts you've tossed at Hurd? I know, I know, Ellison started the whole thing by calling Apotheker a failure whose company engaged in industrial espionage against Oracle—but you've got to push all that name-calling out of your head and instead determine whether HP is better off with Oracle as an uneasy partner that's also a part-time competitor, or with Oracle as a fully committed competitor. Can you live with Larry Ellison? Can Apotheker live with Ellison? What's Apotheker have to say about that? More important, what do you--the guy who signs Apotheker's checks—have to say about it?

3) What about IBM? It's stock price is at an all-time high, it is superbly positioned in growth markets by geography and by emerging technology (analytics, cloud computing, optimized systems), and with Smarter Planet it's got an overarching market position to which CEOs and CIOs can readily relate. How does HP stack up against IBM? What changes do you and the board and Apotheker intend to make to improve that matchup? If you want to lay some knuckle sandwiches on somebody, Ray, IBM is the big kid with his eye on your lunch.

4) What about SAP? You guys have made beautiful music in the past, and even though your alliance with Oracle is much broader and more sweeping (100,000 shared customers with Oracle versus about 20,000 shared customers with SAP), SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott has stated unequivocally and enthusiastically that Apotheker's arrival will lead to a deepening of the HP-SAP partnership. Given the rather raw feelings between Apotheker and Ellison, and between you and Hurd, is it time to commit more vigorously to pairing up with SAP to do things together that neither of you could do individually?

5) Your customers. Ray, I've got to ask this question: when you wrote that letter tarring Hurd as a liar lacking proper integrity and judgment, how did you think HP's customers would take that? If I'm the CEO or CIO at one of your big energy clients or movie clients or life-sciences clients, do you expect that your comments will make me feel better or worse toward HP? More inclined to spend more money with HP, or less inclined to do so? You know IBM's salespeople are swarming those accounts now even more aggressively than before, using your own words to say that HP's current leadership is in disarray and that for the last five years its CEO was not a great guy. How do you turn around this simmering impression that your letter has pushed toward the boiling point?

Well, Ray, I could go on (other competitors, the PC thing, optimized systems, mobility, etc.), but you've got some big fish to fry (p.s.—and Mark Hurd is not one of them) so I'll sign off here and leave you with this thought: HP's 300,000 people—smart, committed, innovative and passionate—no doubt have some interest in the company's past, but their overwhelming interest is in the company's future. And that's where yours needs to be as well.




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GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

To find out more about Bob Evans, please visit his page.

For more Global CIO perspectives, check out Global CIO,
or write to Bob at [email protected].

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