MAD Perspectives Blog

HP's Tug of War

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, August 24, 2011


(caveat:  I am a former HP employee.  The comments below do not reflect any official opinion from HP)

The big news last week was HP's announcement that it MIGHT spin-off its PC business.  It is assumed that this is in response to the appalling sales of the HP TouchPad.  But can the failure of a single, albeit significant, product launch incite the sale of a multi-billion dollar business?  Sure, tablets are replacing laptops in the consumer space.  Why?  Because they are easy to use and enable the consumer to easily find and access the content they desire through the use of apps.

However, HP's PC business is about more than the consumer.  PCs are still used by businesses large and small.  It's not that enterprise workers don't carry a tablet, but ask them how they use it and most will answer that it's great for email and sharing content in the form of a presentation or demos.  But it is not for managing day to day business (i.e., ERP, Supply Chain, RFPs, financial management, etc.)  HP's commercial PC business is thriving and profitable.  In fact, in its recent earnings announcement, HP revealed that revenue from its commercial PC business increased by 9%.

So why all the negativity in the press?  In my opinion, HP's in a persistent state of tug of war - with the many markets it plays in, with its competitors and most importantly with itself.  The market's disappointment is due to several factors. 

1)  HP confuses the market.  It does not easily fit into a single category.  It is both a commercial business and consumer business.  The business models are quite different for each of these markets. While HP enjoys great leverage (call it buying power in the supply chain) due to its wide array for products using Intel, Microsoft and other core technologies, the ultimate use of the resulting products is quite different.

2) HP has an identity crisis.  What does HP want want to be?  Are we the leading provider of PCs and printers or are we a solutions provider to the enterprise?  I can only assume that the difference, between the consumer marketing budget and the enterprise marketing budget, is
dramatic and widely in favor of the consumer budget.  Does HP want to be about price or value?  IT hardware is a commodity business.  Only volume can make it viable.  That was the route pursued by former CEO, Mark Hurd.  Now, Leo Apotheker wants HP to become a software & services company.  And with each new CEO, the plan changes and Board of Directors approves it.  In the social media arena, we talk about identity.  I'm not sure I'd know where to start with HP anymore.

3) HP's intentions are unclear.  Never has this been more true.  The launch and subsequent cancelation of the TouchPad and WebOS is a complete debacle.  HP needs a cohesive strategy that is cut s across all business units.  If that strategy cannot be supported by a business group due to lack of logical alignment, then it might make sense to offload that business group.  For example, if it is HP's LONG TERM (not 3, 6 or 12 months) intention to become a leader in cloud computing and enterprise software, they must align all efforts around that strategy.  HP printers support this strategy with their ePrint capabilities.  Perhaps there is a play for WebOS within this strategy.  Does the Autonomy acquisition support this strategy?  If not, they should forget about overpaying (they've already done that in the past - remember Compaq?).

HP must learn how to communicate.  I worked at HP for 24 years.  I always laughed off HP's appalling attempts at external communication.  Somehow customers were faithful to HP regardless of their communication skills.  However, the world has changed.  The financial markets are demanding.  The need for clarity, consistency and measurable results is a basic requirement, not only to appease the market but to serve customers with excellent products, solutions and services.  Change is painful.  Change is constant.  In my early days at HP, former-CEO John Young had a poster distributed to all offices.  It stated something like "change is constant for technology to evolve, if you cannot keep up with the pace of change you are in the wrong industry."

Like others commenting on this recent news, I would like to see HP pull itself up by the bootstraps.  I would like HP to remember its roots of innovation.  I would like to see HP plan for the long term and execute against the short term tactics that will achieve the long term goal.  HP may not be as exciting as Facebook, Google or Apple, but it can be relevant.  It simply must make a decision about who it wants to be than JUST DO IT (thanks Nike!). Good Luck HP!

What's your perspective?



Telepresence - Its Time has Come!

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When it comes to video conferencing solutions, telepresence is king.  Telepresence is an immersive video conferencing experience with enhanced audio/video enablilng an experience as close to face to face as current technology will allow.  Why is telepresence so compelling?  It provides a customer experience that puts traditional video conferencing to shame.  The key differentiator is the ability to look your participants in the eye, even when they are in a room half way around the world.

Telepresence (or dedicated video conferencing) solutions typically run on a dedicated network, provide very high Quality of Service, include high end audio/video tools and studio style lighting.  All of this provides the endusers an impressive alternative for avoiding airports, travel delays and overall travel expenses.  Most companies that install telepresence already have some experience with video conferencing and use it primarily for internal communications.  However, those internal communications often include executive briefings with customers.  Telepresence improves employee productivity, enhances effective collaboration, accelerates decision making and reduces your company's carbon footprint.

When it comes to companies offering telepresence solutions, Cisco leads the pack.  With their acqusition of Tandberg earlier this year, Cisco arguably has the broadest set of video conferencing/telepresence solutions for business ranging from small to large (and pricing commenserate with size of rooms, number of people and locations).   I have not had the chance to experience Cisco's solutions but have been impressed by their overall strategy related to all things video (for both business and consumer). 

As a former HP employee, I often leveraged HP's Halo Rooms for executive meetings, training sessions and team meetings.  With a global team spread across 3 countries, Halo helped my team manage its travel budget yet still benefit from virtual face to face meetings for internal collaboration, quarterly reviews and hands on solution development.  HP's solutions target the large, multi-national enterprise who may select to install and manage the services themselves or have HP manage it for them.

I recently met with a new entrant into the teleprsence market, Vu Telepresence.  headquarted in India with a keen eye on the U.S. market, Vu is targeting SMBs who cannot afford the high-end, elegant solutions offered by Cisco, HP or Polycom.  I participated in a live session connecting NY, Silcon Valley and Bangalore.  While the system does not enjoy the studio style lighting of the high-end systems, it does provide high quality audio/video, the ability to share a laptop screen and connect up to 6 locations.  The Vu Telepresence solution is a good fit for individuals in SMBs that need to connect between georgraphically dispersed offices.  Think of small to mid size law firms and technology companies with off-shore development or manufacturing.

I'm encouraged to see the investment and growth in this market. I am a big fan of solutions that enable employees and business colleagues to connect and collaborate quickly and easily.  Solution pricing ranges from the low end (Vu Telepresence) of $1500 for one station to the high end (Cisco, HP or Polycom) of $350,000 for a dedicated, private networked, custom built studio. IDC forecasts the dedicated video conferencing and telepresence market to grow to $8.8B in 2014 from $1.9B in 2009.  This is a collobaration solution whose time is now.  The economic recession has forced companies to re-think their travel options.  These high quality video conferencing solutions provide an attractive alternative to time and money consuming travel.

What's your perspective?



Video and Enterprise Communication

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Video is a pervasive part of our lives.  As consumers we watch TV to enjoy comedy, sports, entertainment and news.  We also go online for this same content and more.  We go to YouTube to check out user generated videos as well as professional videos.  We use Skype to for ad hoc video communication.  Enterprise business recognizes the value and power of video, but is still predominantly using video for internal purposes.  Consider the power of video and then consider video as a critical part of the enterprise communication strategy.

Large enterprises have been leveraging video for employee education, customer training, customer support, product promotion and market awareness for many years.  These large (think Fortune 500) companies are also targets for Unified Communication solutions offered by companies such as Cisco, MicrosoftHP and others.  However, there are also many vendors offering solutions for video streaming, video conferencing, webcasting, web conferencing and more.  According to Forrester Research’s Enterprise and SMB Networks and Telecommunications Survey from Q1 2010, within the next 12 months:

-          31% of companies  are interested in Desktop IP Video Conferencing solutions

-           29% of companies are interested in enterprise IP/Digital Video for internal purposes

-          32% of companies are interested in immersive video conferencing (i.e., telepresence)

However, few companies have actual plans to implement and deploy these solutions.    Adoption of these solutions will take into account business requirements, geography, feature/functionality, price, impact on corporate network and ongoing management.  Why should companies be developing actionable plans for video solutions?  Here are some pros and cons:

 

PROS

CONS

-          Video is expressive and compelling

-          Video solutions are complex

-          Video enables participants to see body language, facial expressions and reactions

-          Video infrastructure is expensive    

-          Video is more memorable than the written word

-          Video is time consuming to create, edit, process, upload and consume

-          Video enhances clarity, authenticity and credibility of messaging

-          Video needs to be distributed with multiple media player options (i.e., Microsoft, Real, Apple)

-          Video can be re-purposed across a variety of distribution channels

 

-          Video solution vendors offer increasingly cost-effective business models

 

-          Video can reduce travel expenses

 

 

As companies develop their plans for incorporating video into their enterprise communication strategy, they should consider:
1. How the company will use video

  •      - For internal communication and collaboration
  •      - For external communications and education
  •      - One to one, one to many or many to many communication
  • 2. Developing Content
  •      - Length of meeting or presentation
  •      - Goals for the meeting
  •      - Personality mapping (consider your audience and the type of presenter who can create best impact)
  •      - Metadata description of content
  •      - Search Engine Optimization (based on title and metadata)
  • 3. Post event activity
  •      - Availability of on-demand video “replay”
  •      - Posting/Distribution of content on website or 3rd party sites (i.e., YouTube, BrightTalk)

 

Video has become more than a solution for pushing information to a target audience.  It has become part of the real-time communication process.  With desktop video conferencing and immersive video conferencing (think telepresence) ranging from high-end to low-end, companies have greater opportunities to leverage video on a daily basis.  Whether you are a large enterprise or a small/medium sized business, video can help you communicate with your audience.  Aligning the use of video with your overall business strategy is critical.  Aligning internal business groups (i.e., Execs, marketing, sales, IT, etc.) is also important.  How is your company going to incorporate video into your communication strategy?

What’s your perspective?



The Enterprise is a Broadcaster

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Many of us grew up with the Big 3 Broadcasters:  CBS, NBC and ABC.  When we hear the term broadcast, we immediately think of news and entertainment programs offered by these networks.  We have adapted to include FOX, CW and the myriad of cable networks providing news 24x7, entertainment and education programming.  However, I don't think think that many us actually think about enterprise companies broadcasting.  But, they do!

The volume of content being created and shared, live and on-demand, by corporations is increasing dramatically.  IDC's White Paper, Best Practices for Enterprise Content Delivery, estimates that employees are watching an average of 2 hours of video per month.  Initially, only very large companies could implement video streaming.  They were driven by a desire for consistent executive communication to employees.  They faced high production costs and high networking costs due bandwidth requirements.  However, they saw the benefit of enterprise video.  As companies became more geographically dispersed, video solutions provided alternatives for excecutive communication, training, product promotion, investor relations and customer service.  Large companies soon realized they could not exist without a variety of video-centric solutions.

Simulteneously, streaming formats advanced subsequently providing better quality yet requiring less bandwidth.  DRM and network security improved thus providing confidence for corporate communication teams and IT and Networking specialists.  In addition, tools evolved to pro-actively monitor and manage the networks thus ensuring a positive quality of service.  Hosted services also evolved to alleviate the burden on the corporate network.  With VPNs available to host and delivery content securely, small & mid size companies were able to take advantage of the same benefits as the big guys. 

As a result, there are now multiple terabytes of video content resident at most enteprise companies.  Enterprises are broadcating live to their investor community and employees while making educational, promotional and training content available on-demand.  Companies, such as Ascent Media, Grass Valley, Avid and others, that have provided solutions to the traditional media & entertainment industry, now also provide solutions to the Enterprise.

Considering the size of the Enterprise Video market this is not surprising.  Wintegreen Research anticipates enterprise video to be a $14.4 billion market by 2014.  IDC anticipates enterprise online video to grow at a compounded rate of 50% over the next 5 years.  The economy, lack of standards and continuously evolving and emerging solutions will challenge the growth, but the committment and value seem clear. The enterprsie market cannot compare with the size and complexity of the traditional broadcast market, yet when combined with the focus exhibited by the enterprise on implementing these solutions and the evolution of vendor solutions it is clear that Enterprises have become Broadcasters.

What's your perspective?




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