Can HP CEO Meg Whitman Impress Hewlett-Packard Partners?
At the HP Global Partner Conference next week, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman will have the opportunity to engage and energize partners. But the event will also serve as a proving ground for Whitman and HP. Indeed, some partners want further assurances that HP is back on track after the company lost its way in 2011. Here’s a preview from The VAR Guy.
Whitman is scheduled to address the HP Global Partner Conference audience in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Feb. 15. Rumor has it The VAR Guy will be in the house for the HP event — one of the Top 100 Channel Partner Conferences of 2012. The VAR Guy will be listening closely for updates on HP’s channel partner strategy. But our resident blogger also wants big-picture updates from Whitman. Among the elephants in the room from 2011 that Whitman must restore partner faith in…
1. HP Leadership: Former HP CEO Leo Apotheker was in place only from November 2010 to September 2011. HP’s board ousted Apotheker after the company’s WebOS strategy imploded and HP’s commitment to the PC market came into question. Apotheker’s tenure was the latest in a long list of CEO hirings and firings in the past decade.
Whitman arrived in September 2011 to restore HP’s credibility with Wall Street, customers and partners. But can she prove to partners that she’s made a long-term commitment to getting HP back on track?
2. HP Hardware: For several weeks in 2011, HP considered spinning off its PC business (the HP Personal Systems Group). The debate was leaked to the media during former CEO Apotheker’s tenure.
- On one side of the debate, many partners wanted HP to retain its PC business to offer customers total IT solutions.
- On the other side of the debate, some investors wanted HP to shed its PC business in order to improve margins and to focus on growth markets.
HP ultimately decided to hold onto its PC business. Now, Whitman must prove that the hardware debate has ended — explaining why PCs remain core to the HP portfolio.
3. HP Software: Hewlett-Packard has never been a software powerhouse. The much-hyped WebOS strategy was supposed to help HP compete with Apple iOS and Google Android. Former CEO Leo Apotheker promised to make WebOS run on all HP devices — tablets, smartphones, PCs, printers, etc. Instead, HP pushed Apotheker out the door and pulled the plug on WebOS hardware. These days, WebOS is shifting to the world of open source but there are no guarantees for success.
After HP’s WebOS debacle, Whitman must prove to partners that HP’s recent buyout of Autonomy — for $10 billion — was worth the price and offers partner opportunities.
4. The Cloud: At the 2011 HP Americas Partner Conference (HP APC), former CEO Apotheker made rambling statements about HP’s cloud strategy — claiming the company was preparing to compete with Apple iTunes, Amazon Web Services and other big cloud services. Apotheker failed to offer any real details … and he didn’t say how channel partners would fit into the HP cloud strategy.
Whitman has an opportunity to right those wrongs. The VAR Guy will listen closely to determine if Whitman delivers the goods.