HP: Energy of a Startup, Power of a Fortune 100 Company

    I’m at HP Reinvent this week and listening to the CEO keynote. This is a reinvented company and his opening comment referred to the company as I did in the title above. I’m fascinated by how different companies execute turnarounds and how few are successful. The old HP had been in sequential failed turnarounds for over a decade when it decided to split into two companies, HPE and HP. It still strikes me as amazing that HPE, which seemed to have all of the advantages, and HP, which seemed to have all of the disadvantages, effectively switched places. I think the difference was that HPE thought it couldn’t fail and HP knew it was at huge risk, causing the first to under-execute and the second to over-execute. Now HPE is still looking forward to a successful turnaround and HP is looking back at one. What is particularly amazing is that printing, which was thought to be a dead market, has been growing in HP for the last six months and even before the 3D printing business, still in its infancy, has taken off.

    Let’s pick up some of the highlights of the CEO keynote.

    3D Printing Opportunity

    To showcase where 3D printing is, HP CEO Dion Weisler demonstrated a component for back surgery now in use. Apparently, the spacer he showed on stage is typically delivered to a surgery in large volumes and in different sizes, but only one fits. The parts that aren’t used, each very expensive, are discarded. Now, with 3D printing, the exact size needed can be printed, saving significantly on waste and assuring the right size, not just the best approximate fit based on what guesses were made before the surgery began. This isn’t just lower cost; it improves the result of the operation and showcases some of the potential for 3D printing.

    HP Brand $2B Value

    HP’s brand was clearly underwater coming out of the last decade and I’ve been concerned about the drag that HPE’s performance has had on the brand. Well, according to Weisler, the HP brand has recovered and now has a value of $2B. I think this showcases one of the benefits to having customer-facing products. Both HP PCs and printers are in user faces and HPE’s products, by and large, are not. This results in the positives being delivered by HP overwhelming the problems being created by HPE and now HPE is effectively benefitting from HP’s success, though it would clearly be better if both versions of HP were successful.

    Yo Home

    Blending the concept of smarter cities with innovation, Weisler provided a picture of the Yo Home. I’ve been following, and fascinated by, this concept ever since I saw it weeks ago. This concept home, basically a convertible room, is really interesting. Walls, ceilings and floors are used so that these movable surfaces can convert the room from bedroom, to living room, to dining room/kitchen, to full-sized luxury bathroom. Rather than changing rooms with most unused most of the time, one room is fully utilized all the time. The limited space is fully utilized and waste minimized, reducing cost, increasing density, and arguably increasing safety and security as well (it is easier to build a small space well and secure it than a large space).

    Invasion of the Millennials

    As boomers age out of the workforce, millennials are coming in. This is a very different kind of workforce. They expect their companies to be socially aware and active in making the world a better place. They want flexible workspaces, to be equipped with hardware they can be proud of, and high connectivity. They live off their cell phones and have very different needs and expectations of their companies than the older workers they are replacing. They are a revolution that is apparently more focused on the what than the why.

    AI Revolution

    One of the interesting concepts presented was the idea of real-time product evolution. This is the integration of artificial intelligence and 3D printing, allowing algorithms to rapidly evolve a product through digital and physical modeling to allow hyper-speed advancements of products and concepts at speeds we can’t now imagine.


    They brought Christian Slater on stage to talk about security. Security is an interesting problem in that, like insurance, it is something of high concern but also a subject and concept that is typically under-funded and under-covered, unless there is a breach like the one at Equifax last week. HP has a series of videos called “the Wolf series,” staring Slater talking about the problem. Weisler says HP, when it comes to printers and PCs, is the most secure.

    This is perhaps one of the best ways I’ve seen to present security as a threat. The problem with security largely has to do with funding, and the funding comes from parts of the organization having nothing to do with security. Having a mode of presenting that communicates the threat in a way that is interesting and compelling and frees up the money needed to mitigate it. HP’s approach does seem to work and likely should be captured as a best practice.

    Wrapping Up: Facing a New World

    It is clear that the world is changing. We have new technologies like AI and 3D printing that are coming together to change our physical and virtual worlds. We have ever higher living densities and ever more intelligent systems making these spaces more useful. Boomers are being changed out with millennials, who have far different needs, expectations and tools, and all of this has to be effectively secured in an ever more dangerous world.

    This was good breadth in a keynote, particularly for a firm that is largely focused on two product areas, PCs and printers. But it showcases the power of user-focused offerings because everyone can connect with them because they all touch these offerings. That makes it easier to engage broadly than with back-office technologies that the folks in the audience largely don’t touch and have a harder time engaging with.

    But beyond the product, the really interesting thing is how excited these folks are on stage about their offerings. This remains unique in the industry in large firms, though you still see it in startups. This speaks to how Weisler started, because HP is kind of like a startup in that its product line is simple and people focused. But it is also a Fortune 100 company and the combination, well, it is fascinating and more than a little magical.


    Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm.  With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+

    Rob Enderle
    Rob Enderle
    As President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, Rob provides regional and global companies with guidance in how to create credible dialogue with the market, target customer needs, create new business opportunities, anticipate technology changes, select vendors and products, and practice zero dollar marketing. For over 20 years Rob has worked for and with companies like Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, USAA, Texas Instruments, AMD, Intel, Credit Suisse First Boston, ROLM, and Siemens.

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