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: HP is proudly a hardware company first and foremost, and its primary route to market will be through the channel.
Whitman took the helm at HP in September after former CEO Leo Apotheker led the company through a period that saw a major re-focus on software with the $10.3 billion acquisition of Autonomy , and the future of the personal systems group thrown up in the air with a strategic review that could have led to the sale or spinoff of the business unit.
With her first chance to formally address HP partners, Whitman wasted no time addressing the challenges of the past year for the vendor and its partners and reaffirming its commitment to the channel and the strategy going forward.
"Last year we maybe didn't make it (the best) in our long relationship, and we recognize you had some issues to deal with. The (PSG) announcements last August created confusion about what's going on, and if you could count on HP," Whitman told partners. "I think it just made things more challenging.
When she took over Whitman said she thought the most important thing she could do was end "the noise" and create some stability, and be a steady hand on the tiller for HP.
"What I wanted to do was get HP out of the headlines for the drama, and get us into the headlines for our products and for the work we do with customers and partners," said Whitman. "Let's really focus on what makes HP great. I want to re-establish HP's reputation for being the reliable trusted partner you can count on to build your business with you."
The first major decision Whitman had to tackle was the uncertain future of the PSG business, and she said she recognized the decision had to be accelerated to end the uncertainty as soon as possible.
"I came to the obvious conclusion that HP PSG and you are better together than we are apart , and I feel great about that decision," said Whitman.
And in a further repudiation of Apotheker's strategy, Whitman put hardware back at the forefront of how HP sees itself and how it goes to market. Infrastructure is the core of HP's DNA, she said, with 70 per cent of HP revenue coming from servers, printers, storage , PCs and workstations.
"That's the core of who we are and we should stand up and be proud of that. We're a proud hardware company and we want to stand tall with you," said Whitman. "Everything else we do builds and amplifies that opportunity."
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.