Fiorina: Cynics and doubters hold industry back

Carly Fiorina, chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), used her keynote speech at Comdex Monday to push her vision of the new HP.

On the day that the company began a new advertising campaign focusing on the breadth of HP's activities, Fiorina said confidence and optimism are needed to take the industry forward. "Progress is not made by cynics and doubters. We need the capacity to look ahead and develop practical solutions," she said.

Despite the "less certain world" around us, "I come to this conference more confident than I have ever been," Fiorina said.

Integrated computing that solves customers' problems and "a partner that can make all their pieces work well together," will be key to future IT, she said. Repeating the company's mantra ever since its merger with Compaq Computer Corp., she said that the new HP is a market leader across much of the IT industry and has the experience and expertise to cover a broad range of customer needs.

HP will also work with other companies where it doesn't have resources in-house, she said. "With (our) combined coverage we can redefine the IT proposition for companies. But we won't lock customers in or limit their choices to what we offer -- partnership is our lifeblood."

HP will focus on RoIT -- return on IT -- for all customers she said. That will involve lowering the cost of acquiring and running technology, helping companies to manage it end-to-end, and providing services that give then RoIT, she said.

"We will provide the most modular and standards-based technology in the industry, to keep the costs of acquiring technology low," she said. "It's about making a diverse technology landscape work, and work better."

The consumer IT side will also be important to HP, Fiorina said, from US$49 printers to an iPaq PDA (personal digital assistant ) with fingerprint recognition security. Tablet PCs will also be a big focus, she said, and are a good example of "technology that makes things possible that weren't possible before - I can scribble a thought as it occurs to me and email it, in my handwriting."

Fiorina then proceeded to demonstrate, writing a note in handwriting so scrawled it would probably have been better to type it.

Reactions after Fiorina's speech were mixed. "I was hoping to hear more about the future, like specific products or strategies. I could have read most of what she said off the Net." Varun Joshi, a consultant from Los Angeles said. "The 'integration' buzzword is overused at this point."

Peter Guertler, a partner in Listenwhy Systems of Denmark, said "It was a notch better than I expected. It was good to hear less on the internal struggles and see them look outside, to the market."

Finn Fabricius, a senior developer for Listenwhy was more positive. "It was very convincing. She struck a good balance between their vision of computing and the day-to-day relevance of gadgets. But she wasn't promoting gadgets for their own sake. It's very important to be able to show that vision."

(Additional reporting by Tom Krazit in Las Vegas.)

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