HP Discover 2012: Meg Whitman keynote

It has been said by several HP employees that Meg Whitman has been a calming force brought to HP.  This morning, that calming force directly addressed many US-based HP customers for the first time during the HP Discover event in Las Vegas.

Last year, Léo Apotheker addressed a similar crowd and the keynote from him focused on the Autonomy acquisition, analytics and transitioning HP towards being more of a software company. Whitman’s keynote carried a very different tone and message about harnessing what customers want and need and utilizing HP’s strengths and portfolios to address their customer’s needs. In short, she delivered and reiterated a message that HP exists to meet their customer’s needs with the broadest and deepest portfolio of products and solutions on the market from a single company.

As she said, the best way to start a story is to start at the beginning, so she began the story as assuming the role of CEO at HP.  Whitman highlighted a number of the things that she learned  as she surveyed the company.  She found some things that, she said, made her very impressed, such as how HP employes are serving along side of United Kingdom’s armed forces implementing and supporting critical communication systems.

But with the turmoil that HP has faced with the CEO dance of the past two years has been well documented in the media and she didn’t shy from addressing that topic.  She acknowledged the turmoil and praised the resiliency of HP employees.  She also praised the lengths to which they will go to serve their customers even in the middle of a crisis, such as the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, flooding in Thailand, and the tsunami in Japan.

Whitman painted a picture of a strong and integrated company which is working hard “to be more than the sum of our parts.”  Through leveraging all the innovation in individual products and lines of business, they are moving towards integrated solutions to meet customer’s needs and solve their problems.  Whitman also reiterated the point that HP embraces open solutions and architecture, a theme that has been shared for several years, and discussed the partnerships that HP has fostered and that have thrived for many years.

Whitman also outlined a future that focuses on three key areas that HP feels customers are struggling with – Cloud, Security and Information Optimization.  For cloud, HP has a strong portfolio of products including a slate of revised management software released today to help manage heterogeneous hardware in the cloud and enable the enterprise to use DevOps development method to high-velocity development.

“Security and compliance is more important than ever – there are new threats, new regulations and new scruitiny taking place across the globe,” Whitman added.

Information is far more important to businesses than raw data, making analytics incredibly important to businesses in the coming year to make critical decisions and react to trends.

Whitman articulated the customer first message multiple times. Summing it all up at the end of her presentation, “Your agenda is our agenda,” she said. I’m sure a lot of customers, like myself, will find a lot of comfort knowing that this is the new direction for HP.

Next up, Whitman welcomed Jeffery Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks Animation SKG to discuss their relationship and how Dreamworks pushes the limits of technology to create animated films.  Although Katzenberg had many complimentary things to say about HP, he summed up Dreamworks’ relationship with technology by using a video illustration from 1994, when he brought a lion on stage during an event in Las Vegas while promoting Disney’s The Lion King.  The lion proceeded to get a little ‘frisky’ with him while showing his affection, not exactly performing as expected.  Katzenberg firmed it up with these three points comparing Poncho the Lion with technology:

#1 – Without Poncho the Lion, the Lion King could not have been made and without technology, Madagascar 3 could not have been made.

#2 – Poncho performed on his platform as expected most of the time.  Technology performs on its platform most of the time as expected.

#3 – There are times when Poncho the lion got a little frisky.  We’ve all experienced technology getting a little frisky. But it wasn’t an issue with Poncho because his trainers were there to help get him back on track and just the same HP is there for its customers to help get them back on track if technology gets frisky.

Not a bad way to end the keynote and a great way to reinforce to customers how HP can be a valued partner to work with.

Disclosure: HP sponsored my trip to HP Discover, covering all travel expenses, however HP does not control the content of the posts that I write based on my attendance to the show.  The thoughts, impressions and information contained in this post are my own. 

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Philip is a IT solutions engineer working for AmWINS Group, Inc., an insurance brokerage firm in Charlotte, NC. With a focus on data center technologies, he has built a career helping his customers and his employers deploy better IT solutions to solve their problems. Philip holds certifications in VMware and Microsoft technologies and he is a technical jack of all trades that is passionate about IT infrastructure and all things Apple. He's a part-time blogger and author here at Techazine.com.

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