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Whitman brings the swagger back to HP

Jeff Jedras | Feb. 17, 2012
After a tumultuous year for Hewlett-Packard Co., new CEO Meg Whitman brought the vendor back to its roots and delivered the messages channel partners wanted to hear in her keynote at the global partner conference Wednesday.

The core strategy for HP as articulated by Whitman is to remain the largest provider of IT infrastructure, software, services and solutions for individuals of all sizes. While Whitman said clearly that HP is "in the software business to help you solve tough customer problems ... not to transform HP into a software company," HP does see value in layering software and solutions on top of its hardware infrastructure to tackle challenges in areas such as big data and cloud computing. She also announced a doubling of HP's spending on research and development across all business units as part of a new commitment to organic growth and innovation.

"HP is coming back strong after a rough 2011," said Whitman. "We've got our swagger back, and we hope you do too. Let's go out and sell with confidence, together."

HP partners had high expectations for Whitman and David Reid, president of Winnipeg-based HP partner Epic Information Solutions , came away as impressed with her personality and demeanor as her messaging.

"She seems like a very grounded, wholesome person, and that's something HP hasn't had in the CEO role for quite some time," said Reid. "I think she's someone who is going to do what she says, and what she said really resonated with me. I'm looking forward to seeing the results."

Reid said he was also pleased to see Whitman bring clarity to HP's strategic focus after several confusing years for partners around just where the vendor wanted to go.

"In the last couple of years it's been very unclear if HP was trying to be a services company or a software company, and what happened to the hardware focus?" said Reid. "Having her state clearly that HP is at its core an infrastructure business and will be for the foreseeable future was good. I hope that translates to bringing more products to market faster."

Re-affirming HP's commitment to infrastructure, which most partners would consider their core business, was absolutely the right move agreed Paul Edwards, research director with the London, Ont.-based InfoTech Research Group . But he liked that she also brought the importance of the software piece into the overall picture.

"It's something I was looking for, even though last year they were full-hog toward software and leaving hardware behind, and for awhile at this event they did the opposite," said Edwards. "HP is a solutions-based company, not just a hardware company. I think they have a good balance and good portfolio across hardware, services and software, and what they have to focus on is bringing that all together for the partner, and enabling them to really have those conversations and make those sales."


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