Daily Archives: April 29, 2010

Parsing Hurd’s Words

HP CEO Mark Hurd is heralded for his operational rigor, for running a tight ship, for tuning the corporate engine to run on all cylinders, and for cutting costs wherever savings can be found.

He might even be proficient at the “vision thing” and strategy. That said, I often find his public pronouncements ambiguous and opaque. At times, it’s very difficult to tell what message he’s trying to convey, which is probably why other members of the executive team often get assigned to the analyst briefings and media roadshows.

As a case in point, I want to feature a comment Hurd made in his keynote Tuesday at HP’s Americas Partner conference. Here it is:

“You’ve probably heard speeches that the world will revolve around the network. Well, go and check their profit and loss, I’m going to bet their business revolves around the network. I’m suspicious of anyone that says their intellectual property will dominate, because I don’t think that’s how it’s going to work. We’ll need to be prepared to mix and match capabilities based on business needs, and we’ll need the intellectual property and capability to adjust.”

I think I get the general gist of Hurd’s statement, but I’m not entirely sure. Obviously he’s attacking the networkcentricity of Cisco. Beyond that, though, I’m not sure what he’s saying.

Is he suggesting that HP believes the network isn’t that important, that’s it’s just another piece of the puzzle in the age of virtualized, cloud-based data centers? If so, he doesn’t fully make the case. Then again, maybe he’s saying that systems integration, supported by breadth and depth of technology IP, will be the key to success? Again, we can only speculate.

An operational perfectionist who pushes himself and his company to ever-higher levels of statistical efficiency, Hurd is a strangely enigmatic communicator.