Q&A with Stephen DeWitt, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Marketing at Hewlett-Packard
I recently spent an hour with Hewlett-Packard executive Stephen DeWitt, a longtime leader at the company who is currently leading up HP’s enterprise marketing efforts. I wanted to learn more about the value proposition of products and services HP is selling to infrastructure & operations professionals and to understand HP’s vision of the future for enterprise customers.
“It’s easy to think of HP as a ‘PC and printing’ company – and we’re obviously a huge player in those traditional product areas – but we have a broader vision for enterprises and for workers…all built around the new style of IT,” Stephen told me. “Our new enterprise campaign, for example, is going to introduce people to the degree of breakthrough innovation we are providing customers today, and how co-innovating with HP can empower your business in the dramatically changing world ahead.”
To give you a deeper sense of how HP serves its enterprise customers, here are some edited excerpts from our conversation:
Q: What’s HP’s overall vision for enterprise solutions? How do you make that vision tangible and concrete for your customers?
HP is a portfolio company, from core to periphery, from cloud to the device. We work very closely with our customers to provide end to end solutions rather than just ad hoc or best of breed products, and we focus on solving for business outcomes and co-innovating with our customers.
One way we make this vision tangible for our buyers is to tell the story of how we use HP technology solutions to drive our own business in the context of the new style of IT. HP has a very large, sophisticated sales force of 27,000+ people divided into nearly a dozen different types of sales roles. In order to help these multitudes of sales people to collaborate with one another and to be more effective with customers, we developed an app called The Point. HP’s team created the app, which runs on HP’s public cloud and HP’s Windows 8 based PCs and Elitebooks. The Point app delivers near perfect information in real-time – product and solution details, customer information and insights, video testimonials, individualized training and personal development, a concierge service and other information to empower our salespeople to serve our customers.
The Point app solves several interrelated business problems for HP’s salespeople while representing the reality of how quickly businesses of all sizes can transform to take advantage of the tools and capabilities of today’s technology. Perhaps most importantly, this Cloud based app went from concept to production in weeks, not months, and cost very little. It is also focused on the user experience of gathering and consuming data, versus legacy app development which was more about the “how” than the “what.”
The Point is as good a metaphor as any in terms of the need to bring a variety of technologies, products, and services together and deliver an experience that drives business performance.
Starting in a few weeks, enterprises will begin to see new messaging and storytelling from HP – highlighting, for example, customers like NASCAR – to show how we can empower businesses to unlock their potential through leveraging Big Data in their day to day operations. I’m excited for enterprises to hear this message so broadly. I think many will be surprised at the incredible depth of our big data capabilities. Just another example of the evolution of our portfolio matching the requirements of the new style of IT.
Q: There’s been a lot of change at HP in recent years. Is this a good thing? And what has changed that enterprise buyers should be aware of – but aren’t?
We’ve had a lot of change, but in tech that is standard fare. Change at the top is always news-worthy and when you come from the global leadership position that HP has held for some many years, it’s front page material. Change, however, is good and what we are all about. Meg has brought strong executive leadership to our helm. Our balance sheet is strong, with lots of cash and little debt. Our company’s business and engineering leadership has fully embraced the new style of IT and you can see it in terms of how we run HP and the solutions we are bringing to market. Finally, we remain deeply passionate about the co-innovation work we do with our customers. With tens of thousands of our employees living every day with our customers we have unique perspective on the transformations happening all around us. This gives us a material competitive advantage relative to siloed alternatives.
All of these strengths are fundamentals.
In terms of growth areas, something too few enterprise buyers know is that HP employs over 10,000 application developers – all focused on the massive application transformation initiatives that are underway everywhere. It’s a post-angry birds world and the proliferation of mobility, cloud, and big data are re-setting the business rules of engagement and competitiveness. We have partnered with virtually every type of customer on this journey. From banks and large public sector organizations, to new world social and media companies, to retail and small business, we work across the board. To date, we’ve helped build thousands of applications that both represent a company’s brand and their capabilities in the new style of IT.
Q: What’s HP’s viewpoint on consumerization? How is this view driving your products?
We’ve been known for our consumer products for a long time of course, and we can leverage our knowledge of the consumer market in creating better products, experiences and services for enterprise customers as well.
But our focus goes beyond consumerization to what we can call “humanization” – creating integrated solutions that humanize the computing experience, making computing more relevant to users, helping it become easier to learn and use, and leveraging new technologies like biometrics into the authentication process. Our vision is that technologies like cloud, mobility, and apps can create humanized computing experiences that lower the barriers that exist when trying to make technology work for your business. So we are weaving together a workforce humanization proposition for enterprise customers.
J. P. Gownder is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research serving Infrastructure & Operations Professionals. Follow him on Twitter at @jgownder.