A winning strategy

Ken Willett, VP of Hewlett-Packard's Mideast operations, outlines company's roadmap for the region.

  • E-Mail
By  Andrew White Published  September 20, 2007

Worldwide, Hewlett-Packard (HP) has been on a reasonable path of success," observes Ken Willett, sagely. "An emphasis on execution and strategy are the company's key themes, and I think that's paid off."

The man might win awards for understatement: this of a company that, worldwide, posted US$91.7bn in annual revenue in 2006 - making it the largest information technology (IT) corporation, by revenue, on the planet. It's not resting on its laureals, either - the company recently released an outlook for financial year 2007 of between US$103bn and US$103.2bn, which would make HP the world's first IT company to break the US$100bn barrier.

Having the best hardware portfolio doesn’t really bring you a lot unless the pieces work together.

"If you look at the company's portfolio, which I think is one of the core elements that has made it successful, we operate in all the environments: from the consumer end, all the way up to the very high end of the services space," Willett continues. "Initially people thought that it would be a challenge to bring this magnitude of portfolio and markets under control. But I think we've done it: we've been able to articulate both the strength of the portfolio, and also a very specific focus on key market segments."

One market segment in particular represents a golden opportunity, and Willett - who serves as vice president and managing director and Technology Solutions Group lead for HP's MEMA (Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa) region - is quick to reference it.

"The direction that HP is on, and that [new chairman, CEO and president] Mark Hurd has reinforced, is that he wants to make HP a software company," Willett suggests, before checking himself. "That's a simplistic way to put it - what it means is that software needs to become a more important element of our business."

This emphasis is reinforced by a quick glance at HP's recent acquisitions strategy. Currently, it is waiting for a response on a US$1.6bn offer for IT infrastructure library Opsware. Should the deal close, HP would fill a gap by adding change management to its product line, which largely monitors IT infrastructure. The proposed deal would be HP's third largest after the US$25bn acquisition of Compaq, and last year's US$4.5bn purchase of Mercury Interactive - at the time, a market leader in automated software quality assurance, and with services in other fields such as diagnostics, monitoring and IT governance.

"The fact that we had all these software company acquisitions that build capabilities in either the systems management, the performance management or the security space, is all about building the software portfolio to better connect the solutions that we have," Willett explains. "I don't have insight into what HP might be planning to purchase next, but my gut feeling is that the strategy around continuing to enhance our portfolio in the software space is certainly going to continue."

Demonstrating that software is now a strategic business for HP, the company is releasing revenue figures for software separately. Back in March, for example, it disclosed that the unit made an 8.5% profit, and grew more than 80% last year, counting the Mercury acquisition.

Moreover, HP's spending spree is unlikely to stop any time soon. Willett insists that the company is determined to develop its portfolio around the notion of "a holistic approach to managing the environment" - HP is emphasising the importance of the whole, and the interdependence of its many parts.

"Having the best hardware portfolio doesn't really bring you a lot unless the pieces work together," he clarifies. "Today, the whole idea of the pieces fitting together under this broader umbrella of ‘Systems Management Software' is becoming more important, as the enabler across the entire infrastructure we create. The holistic approach, I think, is the sea change."

Today, HP is the largest IT technology and solutions provider in the Middle East with 670 employees and subsidiaries in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, Khobar, Cairo, Oman and Ramallah servicing the GCC, Egypt and the Levant.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code