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Interview with Meg Whitman, Chief Executive Officer, HP

Ms. Whitman has served as HP's president and chief executive officer since September 2011. She has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of HP since January 2011. From March 2011 to September 2011, Ms. Whitman served as a part-time strategic advisor to Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers, a private equity firm. Previously, Ms. Whitman served as President and Chief Executive Officer of eBay Inc., from 1998 to March 2008. Prior to joining eBay, Ms. Whitman held executive-level positions at Hasbro Inc., a toy company, FTD, Inc., a floral products company, The Stride Rite Corporation, a footwear company, The Walt Disney Company, an entertainment company, and Bain & Company, a consulting company. Ms. Whitman also serves as a director of The Procter & Gamble Company and is a former director of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. and Zipcar, Inc.

ActiveWin.com Founder Robert Stein had the opportunity to meet and interview HP CEO Meg Whitman at HP Storage Tech Day during the Nth Symposium Conference in Anaheim, CA which was hosted by HP's Storage Group led by Calvin Zito @HPStorageGuy.

ActiveWin.com: You have said recently that HP is now focusing on the “new style” of IT? What does that mean for HP and its focus for 2013 – a turnaround year for the company?

Meg Whitman: We’re living in an exciting time. There are tectonic shifts that are changing the way technology is delivered, consumed and paid for that is fundamentally changing the way organizations do business. This shift is spurred by the technology trends that impact our customers’ businesses the most – cloud, big data, security and mobility– and provides organizations the opportunity to lower costs, enhance agility and simplify their business. At the same time, they’re presenting new challenges that our customers may not have anticipated.  I call this a new style of IT.

The breadth and depth of HP’s portfolio makes us uniquely positioned to help customers navigate this new reality and move to a 21st century architecture capable of handling the technology demands of today and tomorrow. In 2013, we have made tremendous progress against our strategy to provide solutions for the New Style of IT.  For example, we’re currently working with 40 percent of the Fortune 100 on their journey to the cloud, and our new Moonshot server system is tackling the problems posed by power-hungry data centers and the explosion of data.

ActiveWin.com: There has been a lot of hype around HP’s new Moonshot product – a “software defined web server.” What does that mean and how will Moonshot deliver efficiency for businesses? What kind of numbers are we talking about?

Meg Whitman: Large cloud and web services will conservatively have an installed base of 8-10 million servers in the next three years, occupying space equivalent to 200 football fields and costing anywhere between $10-20 billion dollars to build.  Simply put, our current approach to data centers is unsustainable. HP’s Moonshot is a solution to this challenge. These servers run on the same chips found in smart phones and tablets. The benefits include reducing power consumption by 89 percent, decreasing the footprint by 80 percent and cutting cost by 77 percent compared to traditional servers.  No other company is taking on the data center dilemma the way we are. 

ActiveWin.com: Has HP used Moonshot in any of the company’s own IT?

Meg Whitman: HP.com, which receives more than 300 million views per day, is running on Moonshot, and powered by the equivalent of 12 60-watt light bulbs. The site, which used to run out of a large data center in Austin, Texas, is now using only one-tenth of the original space thanks to Moonshot servers.

ActiveWin.com: What has HP done to focus on small and medium-sized enterprises? (SMEs)?

Meg Whitman: Recently we announced a new partnership with Google and our network of channel partners to introduce a one-stop-shop technology solution for small and medium business customers, which we call ‘SMB IT in a Box.’ We’ve combined HP’s PCs, printers and servers with Google’s apps for businesses and their cloud-based communications and collaboration tools. Our goal is to help simplify the customer’s IT environment by reducing their operating costs, infrastructure and network requirements while simultaneously improving workflows and workforce productivity. 

ActiveWin.com: In the past, HP has had significant success in areas such as printing. How has HP continued to innovate to compete in these types of legacy business lines?

Meg Whitman: Our strategy across printing and personal systems is perfectly aligned with the company-level strategy of providing solutions for the New Style of IT. Through the past two years, we have increased our investment in R&D and reaffirmed the company’s historic commitment to innovation across our portfolio, paving the way to offer mobile solutions that allow customers to seamlessly bridge the digital and physical worlds. In printing and personal systems specifically, we are accelerating product and business-model innovation, and implementing crisp strategies in mobility. Just this quarter we introduced new mobile and cloud print solutions designed to help drive productivity in the digitized office, allowing organizations to more effectively manage, access and print information in the office or on the go. Customers like Walgreens are seeing the benefits of HP’s ePrint solutions, which allow consumers to send documents to any web-connected HP printer directly from their mobile device or tablet. Our investments are paying off: in February of this year, HP was again named market share leader in inkjet and laser printers worldwide, as reported by IDC in February 2013.

We also see tablets and smartphones becoming critical computing platforms and enablers of new sets of applications and solutions for customers spanning large enterprises, small businesses and consumers. We remain focused on high powered computing devices such as workstations and on mobile productivity tools such as tablets, and HP is well positioned to capitalize on the move to mobility. We are already seeing success on this front with new products like the HP ElitePad, the world’s first tablet optimized for the enterprise, and our consumer tablet, the HP Slate 7.

ActiveWin.com: HP has recently released innovations with your Z workstation products, such as the Z1 and Z230. How are these products geared towards businesses?

Meg Whitman: The HP Z family of products is engineered to meet the needs of the world’s most demanding customers, where mission-critical operations require the best performance and reliability. These products are helping businesses streamline their day-to-day operations and deliver products at the highest quality, setting the standard for workstation innovation and demonstrating HP’s leadership in providing solutions for professional at all levels. The latest HP Z family of products also demonstrates our commitment to the professional market that many other vendors have abandoned.

Customers across industries are using the HP Z Workstations to tackle large and complex datasets and information challenges. During the development of the animated film “Turbo,” HP customer Dreamworks Animation used the HP Z Workstations to enable their artists to execute iterations 50 percent faster than previous workstations and develop increasingly complex camera angles and special effects. This is just one example of how the HP Z Workstations are delivering the highest level of performance and reliability, allowing us to meet the demands of our customers.

ActiveWin.com: HP has recently had a new focus with customers, with offerings such as Priority Services, and Lifetime Warranty 2.0. How has this new focus on customers helped the turnaround at HP?

Meg Whitman: Since I joined HP, we’ve taken significant steps to bring customers back to the center of everything we do. I’ve logged more than 500 customer meetings to hear first-hand what our customers need in a partner and how HP could be a better one. We also restored confidence in HP by delivering on what we said we would do by improving our execution and making it easier for customers and partners to do business with us.

ActiveWin.com: HP’s Storage group continues to innovate with such products as 3PAR and StoreOnce VSA. How do you feel HP’s Storage products will contribute to this “new style” of IT?

Meg Whitman: HP has identified three major waves within the corporate data center today: converged infrastructure, cloud computing and software defined. These areas are not only critical to our customers’ success but also critical to HP’s success. HP Converged Infrastructure, including 3PAR and StoreOnce, is designed to give organizations better agility and allow them to make computing much easier to manage at a reduced cost.

I see this area as a critical piece to the puzzle when thinking about the New Style of IT as well as HP’s turnaround. When HP first purchased 3PAR, revenues were approximately $190 million annually. Recently it exceeded $1 billion in annualized revenue, a great sign that these products can propel our company into new markets and help make HP the IT partner of choice.

ActiveWin.com: What is your favorite part of working at HP?

Meg Whitman: I love my job at HP because this company really matters. It matters to the technology industry, it matters to our customers around the world and it really matters to the hard-working professionals that contribute to its success every day.

This company has a track record as an innovator, stemming from the HP garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard formed a true partnership. We’re on a multi-year journey to further HP’s vision and restore the company to a position of true leadership. We know where we need to go, and we’ve been making progress. On the horizon, we see exciting opportunities, and my favorite part of working at HP is knowing that we have the people, the plan and the foundation to help us succeed on our journey.

This interview was completed in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence



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