In my very first blog on The Directive, I wrote a not-so-nice article about Mark Hurd, the CEO of HP. The blog was a reaction to Hurd’s major cutbacks in HP’s R&D expenditures, and the idea was that by cutting back on R&D programs, HP would lose its innovative edge and corner itself into commoditized markets. I find myself perplexed by Hurd again. I have nothing against the man, or the company he leads. In less than 12 hours from publishing this article, I’ll be buying an HP laptop, so there.
This isn’t about laptops though. How much innovation is left in laptops? Or margins for that matter?
In a Q&A with Gartner analysts this week, Hurd made some comments about cloud computing that need major PR damage control. In a nutshell, he said that he doesn’t trust cloud computing due to security issues, and that if HP CIO, Randy Mott, had a big idea and wanted to put general ledger and accounting in the cloud, Hurd “would send him back to work.” He added, “We have 1,000 hacks a day and I can’t tell you why, but they keep showing up. We wouldn’t put anything material in nature outside the firewall.”
This, coming from the CEO of a company that is heavily pushing cloud computing into the enterprise markets, and boasts articles and brochures about “Cloud Assure” for “enabling business confidence in the cloud.”
Wouldn’t you know, I have a few thoughts on this.
Thought #1. HP needs to think about why its customers should believe in cloud computing if HP’s own CEO doesn’t. Sales rule #1: believe in what you’re selling.
Thought #2. Millions of internet users trust in their banking and brokerage firms keeping their financial data in the clouds. If Fidelity and Wells Fargo have figured out how to keep client data securely in the clouds, shouldn’t HP be miles ahead of them? This is the company that’s developing the technologies for cloud computing in their R&D labs.
Thought #3. I work out of a small office on a single computer (sometimes two), and I get hacked several times a day (I know this because my computer is set to alert me with that annoying ding whenever a hack has been attempted). I have relatively inexpensive software to protect my computer and my data. 1,000 hacks a day on HP? I’m sure someone at HP’s IT can figure out how to deal with this. You can’t control the problem, but you can control the solution.
Thought #4. Cloud computing is here to stay. Instead of open expressions of doubt about this market and related technologies, shouldn’t Hurd discuss how HP is working to alleviate the problems in this relatively nascent market through innovation and technological excellence?
Thought #5. Google will lead the way and leave the rest in the dust. Enough said.
Thought #6. HP needs to ponder Thought #1, really really hard.
HP is on my radar screen because I followed the company’s product line competitively for many years. I have the highest regards for the company and its culture, but I want the company to show some signs of innovation again.
Bring back “HP invent” any time!