HP CEO Meg Whitman claimed that the company ‘has turned the corner’ and is ‘back on a stable footing’ during her keynote speech at the firm’s biannual event ‘Discover’.
Previously CEO at internet auction giant eBay, Whitman took the reins of HP in September 2011 amid a backdrop of declining market share and a falling share price.
Eight months later she started to execute a five-year turnaround plan to restructure the company, including laying off 27,000 - as of last month increased to 50,000 - employees.
During her speech Whitman said that these decisions had not been easy or comfortable, but were necessary “to protect our competitive advantage and better serve all of you [customers]”.
She sought to reassure employees and customers of the strategic vision behind these vast job cuts during her speech, saying: “HP has turned the corner. We are on a clear path and have done some of the hard things we had to do to put us in the lead. The company is back on a stable footing.
Whitman added: “We’ve made it easier for you to do business with us and are executing a clear and compelling strategy to take HP into the future.”
Last month the US tech multinational reported an increase in profits of 18 percent to $1.3 billion for the second quarter, but still saw a one percent decline in revenue, with shares slipping after the news was accidentally released early.
Its layoff plan, which was due to complete in October this year, will now continue until May 2015 with an additional 16,000 staff losing their jobs.
Whitman emphasised a commitment to what the company calls ‘the new style of IT’, a term which seems to refer to cloud, big data, mobility and security. However HP has some work to do to catch up amid fierce competition in most of these sectors.
Despite taking a decent share of the data analytics market, the firm is seen as being relatively slow to push cloud services and is still heavily dependent on sales of PCs and printers, which consumers are gradually abandoning for tablets and smartphones. This has left market-watchers pondering where HP’s future growth is going to come from.
Focus on infrastructure
Judging from the announcements at HP Discover, including the Apollo range of supercomputers and major research efforts into ‘The Machine’ (a future data storage device), it seems that the firm is betting on infrastructure, storage and hardware.
Whitman said: “We’re doubling down and innovating in infrastructure at a time when other companies are moving away from this space.”
Earlier on in her 20 minute speech Whitman paid tribute to HP’s history, noting that this year is the 75th anniversary since the company was set up in 1939 by two Stanford students named Bob Hewlett and Dave Packard in Palo Alto, California.
She referred to various notable products through the firm’s history such as audio oscillators used by Disney for the film Fantasia in 1940, the first desktop calculator in 1968, the first rack mount server in 1999, its blade server launched in 2002 and HP Moonshot released last year, which the company claims is the world’s first software defined server.
Whitman even staked a claim for HP as the original pioneer in wearable technology. She said: “Today the next big thing is often said to be wearables. Well, HP was a pioneer in wearables a long time ago. We created first wearable in 1977. I’m wearing one right now and it still works.”
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