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HP's Hurd can't dance, but he can preach BT

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Technology Forum To see HP CEO Mark Hurd speak in Las Vegas is to witness a contradiction.

Hurd, after all, attended a deeply Texan college in Baylor University that had an unofficial ban on dancing until 1996. Sure, you could ogle the blonde, Baptist cheerleaders with the sweet Southern accents. You just couldn't lock hands with them and gyrate to music.

So, it was odd to see Hurd emerge, during his opening keynote tonight at the HP Technology Forum here, from backstage to a live rendition of The Who's Baba O'Riley. Meanwhile, local circus freaks – both blonde women and men - dangled from the ceiling, surrounding HP's top executive, as they flipped, flopped and did other things which we're unable to name.

HP, we're told, is "turning IT on its head." The dancers delivered the message in style.

Where former HP CEO Carly Fiorina could have one-upped the Vegas glitz, Hurd followed the dancing extravaganza with a matter-of-fact speech. (He was wearing a black suit, possibly Armani.)

HP is a $100bn company with 162,000 employees. It spends load running its business. It spends loads on research and development. It's a damn big machine. Hurd said.

At the moment, HP is in the midst of trying to alter its technology spending. The company used to spend 80 per cent of its IT budget on maintenance and just 20 per cent on new programs. In the near future, Hurd would like to see those numbers reversed so that HP puts 70 per cent of its budget toward fresh technology programs and just 30 per cent toward maintenance.

HP would love for the rest of you to view it as an example. It wants you to consolidate, virtualize and automate. If all goes according to plan, you can then worry more about getting business results from your IT infrastructure instead of worrying about whether systems are up and running or if you have enough x86 boxes around when someone wants to fire up a new project.

This is how HP hopes to turn IT on its head, moving us from IT to BT – Business Technology.

When not selling you on vision, HP would like to sell you on reality too.

"The biggest complaint that I ever get is how hard it is to do business with HP," Hurd said. "I think people love our technology. I think customers like our people.

"(But) we have to take that complexity that comes with being as big as we are and take all that capability and turn it into an asset for you."

Along those lines, HP has doubled the number of customer accounts which have a single account manager. In addition, it has hired 1,000 people to improve enterprise customer support.

And that's lovely stuff.

Hurd didn't say a heck of a lot beyond all that and took only about 30 minutes to deliver his message to the HP faithful.

He's a no nonsense type of fella, you see. That's what happens when you're not allowed to dance. ®

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