November 27, 2012
meg-whitmanThe accounting feud between Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and former Autonomy executives threatens to undermine HP Autonomy’s future business and channel partner engagements. So how can HP march forward with Autonomy, even as the hardware giant explores potential legal action against former Autonomy executives? The VAR Guy has five simple pieces of advice.
First, some background: During HP’s Q4 2012 earnings call last week, CEO Meg Whitman alleged that former Autonomy executives misled HP amid the M&A process in mid-2011. The deceptions, Whitman claimed, triggered much of HP’s $8.8 billion write down for Q4 2012. And now, HP is being sued over the Autonomy acquisition, according to a Reuters report.
The net result: Plenty of folks wonder if HP’s current Autonomy business can be fixed. Instead of letting the story spin out of control it’s time for CEO Whitman and her lieutenants to spring to action. Here are five urgent action items that may stop the Autonomy bleeding.
1. Decline Comment on the Legal Case: Even as HP explores potential legal action against former Autonomy executives, it’s time for HP to go mum about the case. Let the legal system do its work, and make sure all HP comments about the Autonomy business focus on customer wins and partner wins.
2. Reset Expectations Then Exceed Them: Over and over again, Whitman and HP have said the Autonomy acquisition is not living up to expectations. That’s getting tiresome. It’s time for HP to clearly articulate how Autonomy will evolve or grow. Then, make sure Autonomy exceeds those expectations so that the business unit can celebrate some success rather than respond to public criticism.
3. Integrate the Autonomy brand into HP: Some Autonomy insiders still don’t know how Autonomy is branded these days. Just Autonomy? HP Autonomy? Autonomy, a division of HP? If you raise the branding question, Autonomy employees will give you multiple answers. Time for HP to play up the HP Software brand, while also more effectively integrating Autonomy into the HP Software story.
4. Describe Cloud Momentum: Everyone describes Autonomy as a business search platform, sort of similar to Google consumer search. It’s time for Autonomy to more aggressively promote and communicate success in such markets as cloud-based backup and data protection.
5. Describe HP Integrations: How do Autonomy software and cloud solutions run on HP hardware? Lots of folks allege that the HP hardware and Autonomy software teams have had a hit-and-miss relationship so far, especially when it comes to certifying all HP products for use with Autonomy (or vice versa). Time to end the debate, Whitman. Publish a hardware-software compatibility list for the the HP and Autonomy portfolios. Update and brag about the list every month.
In short, it’s time for HP to position Autonomy as an acquisition that’s showing progress — rather than an acquisition that destroyed HP.
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