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Rob Preston
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There's arguably no greater CIO contributor to his company's product development, and ultimately its growth opportunities, than Hewlett-Packard's Randy Mott.

There's arguably no greater CIO contributor to his company's product development, and ultimately its growth opportunities, than Hewlett-Packard's Randy Mott.In a recent CIOs Uncensored blog post, my colleague John Soat wrote about a Gartner study that groups CIOs into three roles, each describing how they participate in driving growth at their businesses: the ham-handed "in the way" role, the half-hearted "enabler" role, and the ultimate role of direct contributor.

Randy Mott is a direct contributor. As a technologist at a technology company, Mott's in a better position than most to directly influence the bottom line. But Mott's influence runs deeper than technical expertise. He's uncanny at spotting excessive costs in even world-class IT operations, and bringing to bear the underexposed technologies -- whether internally developed or off the shelf -- to ratchet those costs way down.

It's no coincidence that those areas where Mott has identified IT deficiencies internally have turned into full-throttle product thrusts for HP. A pioneer in data warehousing when he was CIO of Wal-Mart and later Dell, Mott grew dissatisfied with the price-performance of the major software platforms. When he arrived at HP several years ago, he helped dust off some old Tandem technology to develop a data warehouse platform for internal use -- and eventually take it to market as a product. This week's announcement that Wal-Mart is one of the first customers of the Neoview product positions HP as a player to be reckoned with in the $4.4 billion data warehouse market.

Likewise, HP's aggressive move into the data center automation business, capped last week by its $1.6 billion deal to buy Opsware, stems from the internal drive Mott started more than a year ago to find software tools that would let HP consolidate 85 data centers to six and cut its IT staff of 19,000 in half. Currently, only 10% of companies use software for automating IT changes and configuration management, HP estimates, so Mott has been ahead of the curve, as usual.

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