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HP's Livermore opts for 'content free' content

Booth intro steals show

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HP World HP's David Booth stole the show during the opening keynote today at HP World. The problem is - he wasn't meant to.

Booth, vice president of sales in HP's Customer Solutions Group (CSG), introduced bigger fish Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP's Technology Solutions Group, at the event here. As it turned out, Booth's brief ten-minute song and dance turned out to be the only message of substance delivered on the day. Booth briefly addressed some of the more touchy issues facing HP, while Livermore produced nothing more than an extended advertisement.

Booth began his address of the HP and old Compaq customer base by saying, "you could not miss the coverage" that HP's poor third quarter generated. And indeed a flood of horror stories rolled out last week that addressed HP's poor performing hardware business and the reasoning behind the company's decision to axe three executives.

From there, Booth tried to explain the third quarter gaffes, noting that HP's storage business had a bad run and that a typical uptick in end of quarter sales did not arrive. He also pointed to the mysterious SAP rollout gone wrong. Apparently, HP's took twice as long as expected to get a new SAP ordering system up and running, which forced it to "air freight equipment to meet delivery dates" and tap the channel to help complete sales.

Booth is about the fourth HP executive to point to this SAP travesty as one of the main contributors to $400m in lost Q3 revenue. The mind boggles when trying to figure out how a flood of FedEx deliveries could cause a loss on this scale, but that's what you're being told.

HP will improve its ordering system and storage to put it in prime fighting position against the likes of EMC, Dell, IBM and Sun Microsystems, Booth said.

"We are making investments in storage that will allow us to leapfrog our competitors," he said, while moaning about HP's fallen stock price.

And then Livermore came on.

Her talk was perhaps best described by a conference attendee who called it "content free," and the giggles in the press room backed up this assessment.

Livermore simply walked the HP World attendees through several customers wins with companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Starbucks and Unicef. There were some flash commercials shown too, but ever since HP used The Cure's "Pictures of You" in an ad, it has been hard for many to stomach the company's marketing.

Ironically, Livermore pitched HP's Adaptive Enterprise concept again and again.

"It was a little lover a year ago since we introduced our vision of where IT is going - a vision called the Adaptive Enterprise," she said. "The Adaptive Enterprise is not something you buy. It is something you build. It is a journey that you go on."

It also apparently makes things simpler, more manageable, flexible and able to adapt to change.

It is not a failed SAP rollout that contributes to $400m in lost revenue over a three month period, as far as we know. The stuff Livermore was hawking sounded great, if only HP could figure out how to buy what it sells. ®

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