HP CEO Meg Whitman tries to steady investor fears

HP CEO Meg Whitman has reiterated the company’s commitment to its hardware business in a bid to reassure shareholders over the company’s future.

HP CEO Meg Whitman has reiterated the company’s commitment to its hardware business in a bid to reassure shareholders over the company’s future.

During her keynote speech at HP’s annual Discover conference in Las Vegas she said: “Because there have been so many changes at HP I get asked a lot - what is our strategy? First our foundation is infrastructure - PCs, printing, servers, storage – that is 70% of revenue. This is our differentiating strength and we should be proud it."

Whitman said software, services and solutions were part of the company’s ecosystem, but hardware remained its base.

“We are not in the software business to transform into a software company; we are in the business to solve the toughest problems,” she said.

The former eBay chief executive acknowledged that the turmoil HP has experience at the top takes its toll on shareholders.

The message came as HP shares rose 7% following recent restructuring plans, which will see 27,000 jobs cut globally. "There's still an awful lot of work to be done, and we're looking at every option to accelerate the pace," she said during a conference call on the company’s quarterly results at the end of last month.

Whitman told delegates in Las Vegas that what distinguishes HP from competitors is its commitment to open standards: “The big difference about HP is it is not about locking customers in, [we are] based on open systems and architecture. Partnering is in our DNA.”

To be the best partner, the company must aggregate its capability in hardware, software and services, she said.

“Several weeks ago we announced HP’s converged cloud strategy - open and standards based, it’s about consistency, and built on a single common architecture. It means [you] can pick the delivery model at the right time and cost for organisation,” she said. “Your cloud, your way.”

She said CEOs now expect technology to be as available and ubiquitous as electricity and that it was incumbent on HP to use the cloud to be a disruptor rather than being disrupted by it.

“The tectonic plates of the technology industry are shifting,” she said. “Today the forces of cloud, social, mobile and big data are changing the model for how technology is delivered and consumed.”

Whitman cited the company’s contract with the Ministry of Defence, where employees work maintaining IT systems with forces in Afghanistan for eight months at a time as an example of the company’s commitment to working with customers: “Our people work in a war zone - that is how far our people will go.”

In closing Whitman said the breadth of HP’s portfolio and engineering made it unique: “[We are differentiated by] our approach to partnership and openness. But most of all the people, who will do anything to deliver to you.”

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