Meg Whitman: tablets and cloud-based IT will help bring HP back
A year after taking over the CEO's spot at Hewlett-Packard, former eBay chief Meg Whitman faced a tough hurdle in convincing securities analysts that she'd made significant progress in turning around the fortunes of the No. 2 PC maker.
She didn't come close to succeeding, at least in the shortest of short-term analyses.
Before she'd gotten far into her own portion of a three-hour webcast, Wall Street issued a vote of no confidence, dropping HP's already drooping stock price 7.5 percent to $15.86.
The sell-off was a reaction to the first bit of news from the webcast – that fiscal 2012 was a tough year for HP, 2013 would be another and the restructuring Whitman said is needed to bring HP back to financial health won't be finished until 2014. The sell-off continued into the early afternoon, taking a total of 13 percent off HP's stock price, which has dropped by almost half during the past 52 weeks despite cost-cutting moves including the promise to reduce employee headcount by 29,000 – a move HP announced last month.
The company's poor financial results have come from organizational-management errors like allowing $1 billion worth of additional costs to support its sales force even as sales were dropping, failing to define product strategy well enough to let either tech- or financial managers to concentrate their own effort, plus a widespread failure to hold managers accountable for failures, Whitman said.
There was also a somewhat puzzling failure to invest enough in the IT to help the company operate more efficiently, Whitman said.
To solve that last problem, HP has switched its CRM system to Salesforce and its HR system to Workday. These two companies are typical of the more consumerized approach to enterprise IT -- they're cloud-based and client-platform agnostic, which allows employees to work from anywhere. Salesforce is also making social collaboration a cornerstone of its strategy.
In other words, HP is putting its IT spend with the disruptors -- an ironic move for a company which has faced so much of its own disruption at the hands of competitors like Apple.
HP will also push hard for sales of a Windows 8 powered tablet designed to split the difference between the consumer-oriented approach of the market-dominating iPad and the more workaday corporate business PCs that make up a large part of HP's business.
The HP ElitePad 900 "balances a beautiful design with enterprise-grade features" including a design that allows it to be opened for service or upgrades, "military grade durability" to resist damage from drops, dust, heat or altitude and top-quality materials including an aluminum case and a screen protected by version 2 of Corning's Gorilla Glass and and LANDesk Management Suite.
The ElitePad will run on Intel processors, offer touch-, pen- and voice input, HP's suite of PC security products as well as hooks into corporate security and management consoles. It also comes with docking stations so employees can switch to a PC-like form factor while sitting at their desks, an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera and 1080P front-facing camera so it can handle videoconferencing and the ability to print to any ePrint-enabled HP printer without having to download drivers or additional software first.
Sony is a text book example of a disrupted company --and the same thing could happen to your IT department if you're not careful.
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