What’s in a name?
A lot, according to Hewlett-Packard (HP), which says it’s time the company, its partners and customers dumped the moniker of “information technology” and moved on to something better.
“The name ‘IT department’ suggests it’s a department [rather] than about something that enables the business to run more effectively, or powers the business,” said Geoff Kereluik, HP Canada’s vice-president of marketing.
“This department deserves an equal representation at the [management table] give how fundamentally important it is to ensure the business operates at an optimal level.”
“So we believe the next phase in this evolution, in how you refer to this department, will be [to call it] the business technology department, and the terminology used to refer to it will be more focused on being core to powering the business.”
Channel partners will be told to align their products and services with this message, he said. Just as important, VARs will be encouraged “to be talking about business outcomes and business technology with their customers’, how HP solutions help business to mitigate risk, lower costs and drive revenue growth.
Many partners have been doing this already, he acknowledged, “but this really brings it all together in a packaged way.”
“The age of information technology as we know it is over,” according to Ann Livermore, vice-president of HP’s technology solutions group.
“The shift to business technology enables CIOs to weigh and measure their investment in terms of business outcomes.”
HP says it and its partners have the software, hardware and services to deliver on this new view and has grouped them under the titles Business Information Optimization, Business Technology Optimization and Adaptive Infrastructure portfolios.
Industry analysts note that HP isn’t the first company to try to rebrand its image away from bits and bytes and more towards one of offering solutions that enable business to work better.
“The language they’re using is a way to differentiate themselves from competitors,” said Michelle Warren, a senior analyst with Info-Tech Research of London, Ont.
Simply put, she said, HP wants to put technology into words that C-level executives – especially those doing the buying – can understand.
They want to know why the IT department (sorry, the business technology department) says the company needs to upgrade its routers or buy new servers.
HP may be able to increase business executives’ value of IT because it has such a large reach around the world through its channel partners and customers, Warren said.
Philip Grote, a senior business printing analyst with Current Analysis based in San Diego, suggested HP is trying to get organizations to shift their image of the company from one that mainly makes printers and PCs.
“For now, it’s only a marketing message,” he said. “But if they really align their business behind this new mission statement they’re going to be successful.”
One of the first new HP products introduced under the new umbrella is Neoview, an enterprise data warehouse running on HP’s NonStop operating system that will initially be sold in a $1 million package with an Integrity and ProLiant server and StorageWorks storage system.
However, for the first year it will only be sold through global integrators such as Accenture.
Until a number of customers have been built up it will be at least a year before HP channel partners will be able to carry it, said Dick Bird, HP Canada’s manager of business critical systems.
But Kereluik said channel partners will play a large role in the strategy. For example, he said, the company relies almost entirely on the channel to deliver solutions around HP Software (formerly called OpenView) offerings.
Partners will, for example, be able to point to HP’s own use of Neoview to slash the number of data marts it has into only a few data warehouses, as a way of showing the close link of IT to business operations.
“There are so many opportunities associated with this that our partners are going to be significant benefactors of the demand that is being created to help companies move in the same direction as HP,” said Kereluik.
“This fits right in the bailiwick of what most of our partners do today – deliver our technologies, focus on such things as automation and virtualization, which are core to making that vision a reality.”
HP’s approach will be to push partners to work with business technology departments to help them deliver value to organizations.
“This is not something new,” he added. “It’s a repackaging of something that we do very well today.”
“This is not visionary, this is real, concrete, these are things that we can go out with [to sell] now . . . not the promise of something coming in the future.”