HP’s Baez: We’re no longer ‘built for slow’

HP CIO dis­cusses chang­ing the com­pany cul­ture, spend­ing more time with cus­tomers, and mov­ing to cloud plat­forms to ex­e­cute faster

InformationWeek - - Down To Business -

Hewlett-Packard likes to re­mind people that it does things on a mas­sive scale. Its global sup­ply chain? The largest on the planet, it says. Its de­ploy­ments of SAP ERP, Sales­force. com CRM, Work­day HR, and Mi­crosoft Lync uni­fied com­mu­ni­ca­tions soft­ware? Also the largest. Its USD120 bil­lion in an­nual rev­enue? World’s big­gest among IT ven­dors. How about its big-com­pany bu­reau­cracy? You can’t bait HP ex­ec­u­tives into any plan­e­tary ref­er­ences there, though new global CIO Ra­mon Baez con­cedes that lots of com­pany pro­cesses be­fore he ar­rived in Au­gust 2012 “were built for slow.”

Part of Baez’s job, work­ing with boss John Hinshaw, Ex­ec­u­tive VP of tech­nol­ogy & op­er­a­tions, and the rest of the HP lead­er­ship team, is to fo­cus “on cre­at­ing a model that’s more flex­i­ble and ag­ile. How can we move at the speed of busi­ness?” Baez said in a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with In­for­ma­tion­Week. Af­ter los­ing its way un­der for­mer CEO Leo Apotheker, HP is now head­ing into year three of CEO Meg Whit­man’s five-year turn­around plan. Last year the com­pany fo­cused on di­ag­nos­ing prob­lems and shor­ing up its pro­cesses and in­fra­struc­ture, and this year it has fo­cused on re­build­ing, be­fore it heads into the re­cov­ery and ex­pan­sion parts of Whit­man’s grand strat­egy.

Progress has been slow. Fol­low­ing an an­a­lyst meet­ing in Oc­to­ber, where Whit­man re­versed her ear­lier state­ment that com­pany rev­enue would likely grow next year, the com­pany re­leased a state­ment say­ing its rev­enue de­cline will “mod­er­ate” from last year’s.

In an in­ter­view I con­ducted ear­lier this year with Hinshaw, he said HP’s cus­tomers want to see three main things from the com­pany right now: sta­bil­ity and a con­sis­tent strat­egy; re­newed prod­uct in­no­va­tion; and “one HP face” as they buy from mul­ti­ple com­pany units. I asked Baez about progress on that last front in par­tic­u­lar, as most CIOs I meet with say what frus­trates them most about HP is its in­abil­ity to give them a sin­gle point of con­tact/throat to choke.

Baez re­sponded by talk­ing about Whit­man’s em­pha­sis on build­ing cus­tomer re­la­tion­ships, the fact that she has met with more than 1,000 cus­tomers in her two years as HP chief. He talked about the new “HP Way Now,” about reem­pha­siz­ing the prin­ci­ples Bill Hewlett and David Packard es­tab­lished more than 70 years ago.

“That be­ing said, this is a very large com­pany. It takes time to change the cul­ture. It’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity as a leader to show what that ‘One HP’ ac­tu­ally means,” Baez said, not­ing that he’s an ex­ec­u­tive spon­sor of five large cus­tomer ac­counts. “When I meet with the CIOs of those businesses, I want them to think that they’re the only cus­tomer I ever think about. I’m not in sales. I’m an IT prac­ti­tioner, and I know what I ex­pect from my sup­pli­ers, and I want to treat them how I want to be treated. I try to demon­strate that among our lead­er­ship teams, the deal teams, the ac­count teams, and so forth. This is how you work with a cus­tomer.”

HP is train­ing a few hun­dred ex­ec­u­tives as spon­sors to aug­ment the stan­dard ac­count GMs

I asked Baez about his over­all phi­los­o­phy on IT lead­er­ship and strat­egy, and how his char­ter at HP dif­fers from the one of for­mer HP CIO Randy Mott, who led an “IT trans­for­ma­tion” at the com­pany be­tween 2005 and 2008, un­der which it con­sol­i­dated 85 dat­a­cen­ters to six and 6,000 ap­pli­ca­tions to about 1,200, while re­quir­ing a rig­or­ous cost­ben­e­fit anal­y­sis of ev­ery new IT project.

“What I can do is ar­tic­u­late how my lead­er­ship team views IT and changes in the op­er­at­ing model,” Baez said. “I tell my team that I don’t want us viewed just as a ser­vice provider. I want us viewed as a value cre­ator and a knowl­edge cen­ter. That’s ex­tremely im­por­tant

Rob Pre­ston

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