HP's Whitman works to assure customers as company cuts staff

CEO emphasizes a customer-focused direction at HP Discover

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Arens said the coming layoffs are a concern, but HP, the company, seems solid. His main worry is about Itanium. A platform change, if it were to happen, would be at least five years off. But even that time frame would make him "a little nervous."

"There's too much on the Tandem that is mission-critical [and] to jump out of it five years from now would be crazy," said Arens. He was referring to the company that originally developed NonStop before it was acquired by HP with its 1997 Compaq acquisition.

Whitman didn't talk about specific systems or product lines, except to remind the audience that the company's "foundation is infrastructure and that 70% of its revenues come from hardware and infrastructure." She also cited services and software as key differentiators. And in many ways, it was developments in those areas that she emphasized most.

Craig Benson, an IT infrastructure manager at a grocery retail chain, took notes as Whitman spoke. One quote that Benson wrote down was when Whitman said: "Your agenda is our agenda."

"It's something that I'd like to see executed," said Benson. "She did say some good things about HP's philosophy."

Benson said his company has more IT projects than staff. He hopes that Whitman's approach will lead to better implementation services for new products. "I want the whole thing packaged and delivered so our IT staff can focus on other things, not just the task for getting the new widget installed," he said.

Benson said he found out yesterday that the HP sales executive assigned to his company is among those who is being cut. "At this point, I don't have anyone assigned to my account and my company's account," he said.

As a result, Benson said he's trying to find out what HP is doing.

The job of assuring customers that HP service delivery won't be affected by the restructuring falls to people such as Scott Weller, the vice president and general manager technology services support. Weller is responsible for infrastructure support and said he expects most of the attrition will be the result of retirements.

But the changes will also help the company respond to new directions, particularly cloud-based services.

The restructuring, he asserted in an interview, will bring "no change in service levels, and where possible, (HP will) improve them."

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

See more by Patrick Thibodeau on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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