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HP impresses with successes and plans for a turnaround

Rob Enderle | Oct. 8, 2012
Hewlett-Packard is one year into a turnaround, led by CEO Meg Whitman, which could last for several more.

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HP broke from the norm with the all-in-one Spectre One, complete with a 23.6-inch, 1080p multi-touch display, and the ElitePad, which is a throwback to unique HP technology. The ElitePad uses sleeves known as Smart Jackets to transition between focused functions. This concept originated with the iPaq, a PDA that came to HP in the Compaq acquisition and that could morph into unique tools depending on the sleeve you used. This was the first large-scale implementation of the modular computer idea that originated in IBM but was successfully showcased by HP. The Smart Jackets make the ElitePad the most innovative tablet to come on the market.

HP Software: Having Suffered, Now Poised for Growth

Software is a $4 billion business for HP. This makes it the sixth-largest software company in the world, with 94 customers in the Fortune 100 and 50,000 customers overall. HP consistently leads the automated software quality, distributed systems management, archiving and enterprise search and discovery markets, and it isn't far behind in security and vulnerability management.

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HP's acquisition of Autonomy was broadly panned because of its cost, but this week HP showcased the power of this tool to instantly analyze big data and make well-informed decisions. Using social medial as the example, users can quickly segment and group trending discussions and study them to better understand what's driving them. This kind of research would otherwise take hours and be susceptible to bias.

The software unit was the part of the company that Carly Fiorina strengthened, Mark Hurd all but killed and, now, Whitman is recreating. This business unit arguably suffered the most from the CEO changes. Given the massive margins that software can generate, it's good to see HP software back on track after so many painful changes. I expect much of HP's future growth to come from this business unit-which will be critical in HP's ongoing war with Oracle.

HP in Good Shape, Considering Turnaround Will Take Years

If you look at the mess Meg Whitman started with, this is actually an impressive amount of progress in so short a period of time. I'd like to see more movement with acquisitions, though; Lesjak indicated that HP won't pursue any acquisitions for a while-and hopefully HP will address them before they happen.

Marketing and execution messages were also missing from HP's meetings, but this is likely because executives wanted to focus more on a state-of-the-nation discussion about the strategic long-term performance of the company and less on last three months of 2012. I expect a marketing focus in future events.


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