When he joined Hewlett-Packard Co. in 2011, says John Hinshaw found a lumbering giant that used inadequate technology and undermining its competitiveness. The sales team was fed up HP Software Oracle Corp. who used to manage leads. Consumers could not find printers and personal computers who wanted to buy in their outdated website. Their approval process made some HP sometimes delayed several days or even more on giving a quote to a corporate client says Hinshaw, executive vice president of technology and operations.
“I was aware of the good, the bad and the ugly”, says Hinshaw, the first signing made by Meg Whitman as CEO of HP. Hinshaw was CTO of major customers of the company’s Palo Alto, California, as the aerospace manufacturer Boeing Co. and Verizon Wireless cellular operator.
The results have been modest. In the first quarter, revenues in the PC group rose 4%, the first increase in seven quarters after quarterly declines of up to 20% last year. Its division of large computers and services recorded an increase for the second consecutive quarter -2% in the last quarter of last year and 1% in the next-after two years of declines.
During the past two years, Whitman has clarified the strategy and Hinshaw HP has led the restructuring of technological systems and internal processes of the company, and executives say the measures are beginning to bear fruit. The hardware and software giant is still trying to catch up with major technological changes such as cloud computing and mobile platforms, but the changes have made HP a more agile company.
The action of HP has lost ground from its peak of U.S. $ 50, recorded in 2011. After bottoming at about US$ 12 at the end of 2012, it reached just recently its highest level in 52 weeks.
Among the changes replacing its old software sales and human resources and easier to use web-based cloud providers like Salesforce.com Inc. and Workday Inc., stands out among other programs. It has also reconfigured its sales team to facilitate the purchase of HP technology and services and more than 150,000 distribution partners. It has also redesigned its website to recognize visits from a PC or a mobile device and added thousands of consumer products and videos. In the next five years, HP expects to quintuple revenue that generates its website today.
In early March, HP introduced a few customers a trial version of its new website and hopes to make an official launch in May. The software implementation of Workday HR was scheduled for Monday, which HP expects its employees to waste less time on administrative tasks. From April, a fraction of its partners may enter a new online portal that will allow them to register for offers, receive quotes and manage sales more easily. The company plans to hold a demonstration this week at the Global Partner Conference that takes place in Las Vegas.
“It’s easier to do business with us”, Whitman said during the annual shareholders meeting held last week.
Mike Strohl, CEO of Entisys Solutions Inc., distributor of HP that helps companies create cloud computing systems, says the debacle surrounding the purchase in 2011 of software firm Autonomy and plans to cleave PC business under the previous CEO, Leo Apotheker, had doubts about whether customers buy technology software giant. The business partners are responsible for about 70% of HP’s annual revenue of U.S. $ 112,000 million.
However, Strohl says Whitman’s commitment to consumer technology and the renewed emphasis on partners has helped his company and its customers. According Strohl, HP has made the arrangements are more profitable for partners, has reduced from seven to four the number of specialists with whom you deal and has cut a week to a few days to give a sales quote.
In May 2013, Whitman disappointed investors when he said the company probably would not record this fiscal year increased its turnover from the previous period.
Since then, the sales decline has slowed due to the improvement of its two main divisions. HP executives say this is the result of a series of initiatives. One is the renewal of a sponsorship program under which executives senior leaders help train sales managers in charge of the 400 largest customers. Hinshaw, sponsored 13 bills, says that mentors help managers prepare, fix prices and close deals.
“The accounts that have participated have grown from 5% to 40%, partly thanks to the intervention of the executive”, he says.
According to Hinshaw, another key project came in late 2013 when HP revamped its pricing process after determining that the many steps of approval meant a sales quote is much delayed in reaching customers. Now the company has packages default products, and sales representatives can offer prices already set.
Some customers are not very optimistic. James Gordon, vice president of information technology for Needham Bank in Massachusetts, says he likes the servers and computer technology from HP, but decided not to buy storage devices because the dealer selling point was confusing.