​CEO Whitman: HPE ready to move past 'executional challenges', refocus on growth

After months of organisational changes, Hewlett Packard Enterprise will now push ahead with its focus on hybrid IT, edge computing, and services, says head honcho Meg Whitman, who is in Singapore to launch the company's new office and an incubator programme for local startups.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

After months of organisational changes, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is now ready to push ahead with its global strategy, says its CEO meg Whitman, who is in Singapore to launch the company's new office and an incubator programme targeting local startups.

The IT vendor on Monday officially opened its new Asia-Pacific and Japan office building in Singapore, bringing together all of its facilities including research and development, supply chain and logistics, marketing, and innovation centre into one location. The building also housed the teams under spinoffs HP Inc and, more recently, DXC Technology.

These organisational changes had taken somewhat of a toll on the company, which reported a disappointing first quarter in February, with lower revenue across several of its key product and services groups.

Networking revenue dropped 33 percent year-on-year, while servers saw a 12 percent dip and storage fell 13 percent. Revenue for its enterprise group dipped 12 percent to US$6.3 billion, while technology services revenue fell 2 percent and enterprise services also was down 11 percent to US$4 billion. Software revenue dipped 8 percent to US$721 million.

With the spinoffs completed, HPE now was ready to refocus on driving the organisation's global strategy and improve on its execution, Whitman told local media at the launch. She pointed to HPE's three strategic pillars: hybrid IT, edge computing and Internet of Things (IoT), and the services to facilitate the first two focus areas.

Executing on such efforts also would help expand its business into new markets, she said, in response to ZDNet's question about how HPE would be looking to plug potential revenue gap following the separation of its enterprise services business. The group had accounted for 37 percent of the company's revenue.

She said the company would not be targeting specifically to make up for the revenue, but would instead focus on growing its footprint in edge and IoT, for instance, as well as through strategic acquisitions.

In addition to the company's recent buys, which included Nimble Storage, Niara, and Cloud Cruiser, she added that HPE would continue to look for potential acquisitions, including in the Asia-Pacific region, to further drive its strategy around edge and hybrid IT.

Investing $140M in Singapore over five years

The company also had increased its investment in growth markets in this region--currently its fastest growing--specifically, India and China, where it was seeing significant growth, she said. HPE operated in China through its joint venture partnership with Tsinghua.

In Singapore, which served as its Asia-Pacific and Japan headquarters, HPE would be investing US$140 million over the next five years, Whitman said, adding that the company had 6,000 to 7,000 employees here. The funds would go towards building up its local operations, skills, and R&D efforts.

Some US$16 million also would be channelled into a new incubator programme, InnovateNext, which aimed to work with local tech startups and enterprises to develop and commercialise products and services across several verticals, including manufacturing, financial services, and distribution.

HPE's funds would not go directly towards startups, but would instead be used to support the resources and infrastructure needed to drive the initiative. In particular, InnovateNext would look at product ideas that fell within the vendor's technology focus areas such as hybrid IT, IoT, and data analytics.

Co-founded by Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB), the three-year programme would target to support 12 startups, with the aim to commercialise their products for the global market as well as co-develop 10 vertical offerings with enterprise customers over three to five years.

Under InnovateNext, HPE would identify potential startups in partnership with local universities and venture capital firms. According to Mohan Krishnan, HPE's Asia-Pacific Japan vice president and general manager of business development and solutions, a handful of startups already had began working with the US vendor.

One such startup is GridComm, which specialises in smart lighting products that collect and analyse real-time data through IoT and other edge devices.

Stressing the role of startups, Whitman said: "We can't invent everything ourselves." She added that startups under the InnovateNext scheme would have access to HPE Labs, cloud infrastructure, and customer engagement centre to showcase their product offerings.

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