When Hewlett-Packard's former CEO, Leo Apotheker signed on with HP many of us believed he would make the significant mistake of trying to turn HP into another SAP. Early on it seemed HP might avoid this trap. When the company announced - in great detail - its WebOS-based mobility strategy, its tablet, and its new smartphones, it gave some of us hope that HP was moving in the right direction to become an enteprise mobility force.
Let's face it - mobility is the technology that matters most in today's enterprise world. Sure, virtualization and cloud-based computing run side by side with mobility, but with the "BYOD Movement" and the general ongoing consumerization of enterprise technology still raging forward, it is mobility that matters most. At the time of its big WebOS announcements HP looked to have enterprise mobility in hand.
Then many of us were shaken to the core when HP's former CEO decided to acquire Autonomy, decided to sell its global PC business...and essentially did away with everything and anything having to do with mobility. We had to step back and wonder if HP had a clue about where enterprises were headed. And our worst fear - that HP was going to be turned into another SAP - began to look very real.
Let's fast forward to today. Meg Whitman is now at the helm, the PC business is going to stay in-house, and although HP will greatly overpay for Autonomy, in the long run it will eventually recoup that investment. That isn't enough, however, to bring the trust back - especially the trust we need to have that we can rely on HP to do the right things for the enterprise from a mobile perspective
Let's Give HP a Pass
There is a great deal for HP to do to earn back the trust from both its enterprise customers and its enterprise partners. It's encouraging, therefore, to at least see HP putting forth the first pieces of what we hope becomes a pervasive mobile strategy. We've outlined that strategy in our recent article, HP Introduces New Enterprise Mobile Application Services.
HP demonstrates a solid sense of commitment here. In particular, it has framed its new suite of mobile application services as a means for discovering how enterprise mobility can drive strategic new ways for its customers to conduct their businesses going forward.
Will HP be able to help its customers unlock new and significant revenue opportunities? Will HP be able to help IT move away from its traditional cost-centric structure (especially as found in large enterprises) and more towards being able to partner with line of business directors and senior management staff to create exciting new value?
I'm reminded of a very recent Wall Street Journal column in which it was noted that Steve Jobs (yes, him again) was furious at our president for failing to unlock opportunities and instead spending all of his time telling us why things couldn't be done. This is exactly what HP needs to think about as it looks to recover from its recent humbling experiences.
To regain enterprise trust HP needs to help enterprise IT deliver exciting new top line revenue opportunities, and exciting new ways to engage with customers and partners. It's mobile applications services suite is a start in the right direction.
But - and this is a big but - where will HP be on the enterprise mobility front a year from now? Heck, where will it be in six months? Will it build significantly on what it introduced last week or will it all prove nothing more than an illusion - as WebOS proved to be?
I'm very tempted to give HP a pass this time around. It has done too many things right over the years and deserves a second chance. HP - just don't let us down again.