HP's Léo Apotheker: We're heading to the cloud

In an exclusive interview, HP's new CEO expands on his strategy and offers frank assessments of his competition

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Actually, our customers want the same. And in all fairness, so do our investors. Everyone kind of converged in saying, "We know that you're good in this, you're good in that, you're good in a whole bunch of things, but give us an overarching kind of a perspective. What is HP all about and where is HP going and what is HP's view on cloud and connectivity and such and such?" It was great encouragement to do what I wanted to do on day one, which was to actually describe an architecture for the future; an operating model and an architecture for HP; and a vision, a technological statement, and a business statement of where HP should be.

Now, what do we need to fix? We need to address the fact that when a customer really wants to work with HP, along the entire breadth of the portfolio, we need to make that a lot easier for our customers. It's not always easy for a customer to span the bridge across all of our silos. We need to fix that, and that's work in progress. We need to make sure that we have better interoperability, that technology is actually doing some of the things that we really want people to understand emotionally as well as being a total embrace of technology. We'll fix that too. But all in all, I think HP is a formidable company that has great assets, it just needs to bring them together in a very powerful way and deliver that value to the market.

Gallant: Léo, what did you mean when you told Businessweek that HP has lost its soul?

Apotheker: Well, HP is a company that had a very distinct way of being. HP is not just -- and I don't want to sound arrogant again -- but HP is not just any other company. There's a history behind us: the HP way.

Gallant: A storied way.

Apotheker: It's a storied way. I mean we're not talking about just some management guidebook. We're talking about a culture -- we're talking about a way of being, a way of doing things. And over the last years, I think that the HP way has been oppressed a bit, and the HP way is the soul, the heart and soul of HP.

Now, that doesn't mean that they have to be nostalgic, go back to the past, and in the past everything was beautiful. That's not what it's about. But there is part of that culture that is a highly relevant, highly vital culture to HP. We need to embrace that, we need to modernize it, bring it -- if I may say so, have HP Way 2.0. It's hard to talk about a company of 120,000 people in 170 countries, but you can use technology to do that. I mean, you know what I'm saying? We kind of lost that, and we're bringing it back. I want people to be proud to wear the HP badge.

Gallant: If you were to identify a single, most important thing that brings it back, what would that be?

Apotheker: Customer-centric innovation that HP was extremely good at. HP was always great at identifying next technologies and really bring them to market not as technologies, but as things that people could actually immediately use. And there are many, many examples of that. I think we gave a glimpse of what we're capable of doing again, from that perspective at least, by bringing the vision quickly to market with the demo we showed this morning with our analytics capability. We brought that stuff together really quickly. And that's what people really want from HP: Bring innovation quickly out of the lab to the customer.

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