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'HP Has Our Swagger Back,' Declares Whitman at Partner Conference

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Even though she's only been on the job for five months, Meg Whitman, HP's new CEO, had to nail yesterday's performance at the HP Global Partnership Conference to encourage the channel that HP relies on. And nail it, she did, judging by attendee comments and reactions.

Whitman used the themes of innovation and unstructured data -- audio and video content among them -- to describe how HP will return to a position of leadership across the enterprise and the media and entertainment sectors.

"Apple is doing great -- they're on fire -- but iOS is a closed system," said Whitman, addressing head-on HP's decision to contribute the Palm WebOS operating system to the open-source community.

"Google may end up being a closed system, too, as they acquire Motorola Mobility. We enjoy our partnership with Microsoft for use of their mobile operating system, but in the end, we think WebOS is a solid contender for another mobile operating system -- and the industry needs open-source alternatives rather than just another closed or proprietary OS."

Whitman listed several market areas that HP will continue to focus on -- based on the premise that the company should do a few things well -- and reiterated the hardware and software combination of its computing, server, networking and software solutions as a key differentiator against competitors that include Cisco, Dell, and Asus.

"Thank you for sticking with us as we worked to get HP out of the headlines for the drama and into the headlines for the innovation and customer stories. That's what I've spent the last five months doing, starting with the Personal Systems Group (PSG) decision that had created a huge amount of uncertainty in the marketplace," Whitman told the 3,000 channel partners in attendance.

Whitman noted that the Spectre -- an ultrabook that won a CES show innovation award -- was just one type of in-house innovation the company had been producing in PSG. The decision to keep PSG allows HP to continue to innovate in the rather healthy PSG business unit that saw a $10 billion revenue increase over the past few years, she added.

"I think there are two types of innovation: the evolutionary day-to-day innovation that we do in our business and the disruptive revolutionary innovation that helps solidify our lead in the enterprise and other market verticals -- like media production -- that we've come to dominate. We're proud of what we've been able to do, and our long-term strategy builds on the DNA of infrastructure development. Seventy percent of our revenue comes from infrastructure -- from printers to servers to networking gear -- and we're proud to be a hardware company."

While Whitman championed HP's hardware heritage of HP, she also emphasized the software and services side of the company, using as an example the recent acquisition of Autonomy, an unstructured data solution that includes audio and video metadata extraction capabilities.

"Why are we in the software business?" asked Whitman. "We have a strong emphasis on data retention and searchability, including metadata and unstructured data from video and audio. I want to focus on converged infrastructure -- a strong competitive positioning for us -- along with unstructured data and data optimization -- whether that happens in the cloud or on the enterprise server, our intent is to help our customers solve tough marketing problems."

Whitman then provided a high-level overview of how she sees the HP's hardware and software integrating.

"Each piece of the software and hardware combination fits together," said Whitman, "allowing our partners to bring solutions to our customers -- a model that we have used for more than 30 years -- in a way that is customer-centric in terms of serving our customers, from the individual to the enterprise."

Finally, Whitman talked about the difference between buying a company like Autonomy and growing organic innovation within HP, against a backdrop of internal research and development.

"We are doubling down on research and development in all of our portfolio businesses, which goes back to the roots of Hewlett and Packard," said Whitman. "We feel that organic innovation is the way to push forward with big customer quandaries, and we'll consider other channel-focused acquisitions to strengthen that organic innovation."

Whitman called out Autonomy's audio and video metadata extraction -- as part of the Virage subset of Autonomy -- as a growth area, tying it to the work HP can do in-house to tune its workstation and blade hardware to software-bases solution opportunities.

"The Autonomy purchase was the right thing to do," said Whitman. "Autonomy's Mike Lynch is the newest member of our executive team, with a huge asset in terms of the data and metadata technologies we bring to the table for our customers. For the first year, I want to keep Autonomy autonomous enough within HP so that it can grow faster within HP than it could outside of HP. I want to see their mission advanced, not stifled by a large company acquiring an upstart revolutionary technology company that's on a good roll."

Whitman ended the keynote with a reminder about HP's emergence after a turbulent 2011.

"HP has our swagger back, after a rough 2011, and we've got a committed executive team that wants to take HP to a whole new level," said Whitman. "If you have any questions, feel free to connect with me at megw@hp.com."

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