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Whitman looks to assure customers and partners of HP’s future

by Philip Sellers

HP CEO Meg Whitman used the first keynote of this week’s HP Discover to assure customers and partners that HP is returning to health and is here to stay for the long term.

Kevin Bacon at HP Discover 2013The hour long keynote kicked off with special guest Kevin Bacon playing up his 6 degree’s notoriety and talking about the connectedness of people.  He talked about how the simple college game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon turned into a phenomenon and how he parlayed that name into a charity called sixdegrees.org.  The experiences with this charity and website opened his eyes to the possibilities of big data and how information could be harnessed for good.  It was an interesting opening to what we knew would be more on the topic of big data.

Whitman took the stage and moved right into business by highlighting some of the success stories that she had to share from HP customers whose IT has been transformed including Nationwide and United Airlines.  But to highlight the big data topic of the year, Whitman showed off a system that HP developed with NASCAR to collect and analyze fan’s reactions and topics of conversation.  The project is known as NASCAR’s Fan and Media Engagement Center.

DSC00148Joined on stage by NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps, Whitman asked how the project has been changing NASCAR’s live broadcast.  Phelps shared a story about how during a rain delay, that a new “Air Titan” dryer system used at Daytona was getting a lot of attention from fans online and that NASCAR and the on-air broadcasters were able to realize and adapt to this interest during the live broadcast.  This sort of collection and analysis of real-time data is certainly a cool, if not slightly scary, application of big data tools. HP is also using the technology to spot trends and what people are talking about online from the Discover show this week.

But the remainder of the time was used by Whitman to assure everyone attending that HP has improved it bottom line and cash flow, both signs of financial health, its increased investment into research and development, returning to its historical position on the matter and that its going to be in business for the long haul.  All three are welcome points to nervous customers who’ve endured the rocky transitions from Hurd to Apotheker to Whitman.

Meg Whitman at Discover 2013

Disclosure: HP sponsored my trip to HP Discover, covering all travel expenses, however HP does not control the content of the posts that I write based on my attendance to the show.  The thoughts, impressions and information contained in this post are my own. 

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