Fiorina: IT no longer about the hottest box

ENSA@Work: IT is more about value for money than the hottest box, but innovation will still continue, according to the HP chief executive

The current technology recession is a cyclical issue but there is a permanent change happening -- towards better value for money -- Hewlett-Packard customers and employees heard from the company's chief executive Carly Fiorina at ENSA@Work 2003 in Amsterdam on Tuesday. Fiorina angled her keynote toward presenting HP as the best company to meet the changing environment. Meanwhile, users and analysts cautiously welcomed the progress so far in the merger between HP and Compaq. "Commentary on the industry has focused on the cyclical technology market," said Fiorina, "but we are seeing long lasting, structural changes." Customers no longer want the hottest box, or the coolest technology, she said. Instead they want to know how to get the most out of the systems they already have, and make sure they are not building incompatible islands of IT. "The next era is not one of hot spots and killer apps, but is about creating the foundations for an infrastructure that is adaptive and productive." Although this change is partly driven by a shortage of cash to invest in IT, the change of mindset will be permanent, she predicted. "Technology will be woven more deeply into the fabric of the business and of society. Users will be sure to invest in technology that flexes with their business." Despite this focus on return on investment, innovation will continue. HP has won 1,400 patents in the last six months, and launched 100 products. This is more than ever in the company's history, she said -- though it is in fact probably because HP is a bigger organisation than before. However, the innovation is all going towards working with commodity products, as that is the future of the industry, she said. The presentation went down well with an audience of 3,900, made up of one-third users, one-third channel partners and one-third HP employees. Although every supplier is now preaching the gospel of "return on investment", Fiorina gave it a sincere-sounding "this time it's for real" spin. Her presence at ENSA@Work, a former Compaq show, and a series of major product announcements, also went some way towards convincing audience members that ZDNet UK spoke to that the merger was going well.

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