HP's Real Crime

The spy scandal looks bad, but HP has a much more serious, long-term problem, writes our Enterprise Advisor.
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Lost in the media feeding-frenzy about “pretexting” and other I-Spy shenanigans that have encircled Hewlett-Packard recently is the real question: five years after the now disgraced Carly Fiorina first proposed the acquisition of Compaq, is HP any better off now than it was before the merger battle began?

If you’ve read my musings on Sun and its missed opportunities in the software market – which I believe have doomed the company to ignominy – what I’m about to say will sound familiar. Because HP is really too much like Sun to be anything more than another minor bump in the road for IBM, and HP’s enterprise software strategy, or lack thereof, is directly to blame.

Why the comparison to IBM, and why talk about HP in an enterprise software column at all? Because IBM’s triple-threat presence in the industry – hardware, software and services – is not only helping drive competitors like HP and Sun underground. IBM’s three-fer is also a major contributor to the strategic thinking – positive and negative – in the enterprise software market. It’s hard for SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft to think about big, paradigm shifting strategies without the WWID – What Would IBM Do – factor being taken into account as well. Want to change the relationship of ERP software to the database market? WWID? How about reduce the complexity and service requirements for enterprise software? WWID again. Want to create a new market for composite applications? WWID? And so on.

In other words, everywhere the enterprise software market wants to go, IBM’s presence is felt, and its opinion is either solicited or divined. Do you think there’s a WWHPD factor? Not a chance.

Why? It’s simple: HP has no enterprise software strategy, and no services presence. There’s no strong partnerships with software companies, no strategic position in the ERP market, no leadership position in services or on-demand, no compelling reason why the demise of HP tomorrow would wreak havoc on the fortunes of the top enterprise software vendors – or even the smaller ones, for that matter.

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