OpenView to take more central role in HP

Like many IT vendors trying to impress customers with the completeness of their product offerings, Hewlett-Packard is emphasising its software business as part of an effort to shed its image as a hardware manufacturer, according to Patty Azarello, general manager of OpenView, HP's network and application management software division.

In her fifth week on the job, Azarello told the more than 2500 attendees at the OpenView 2000 Conference held in Orlando, Florida, last week that one of the key driving forces at HP presently is the recognition that the company "can hardly just sell boxes".

"Our customers are looking for more. Our customers want to know why they should buy from HP. What kind of value are we going to add to really solve their business problem?" she said.

Azarello admitted that, in the past, it was more difficult for the OpenView business unit to get much attention within HP. But with the recognition that the software business is a strategic component of the company's e-services platform strategy, OpenView is being seen as more important, not just by HP's senior management, but by other HP business groups as well, according to Azarello.

"The sales team, the people who are interacting with customers, are learning that customers have much more expectations than just how fast and reliable are the boxes. That's one key change that's almost at a cultural level at HP," she said.

In addition, Azarello said another driving force for the change in perceptions of OpenView is HP's CEO Carly Fiorina.

"Carly absolutely sees software as a necessary advantage for HP. She sees that software is a very different kind of business and is actively supporting that," Azarello said, explaining the OpenView group is able to take a different approach from HP's hardware business, from the overall business model, channel programs, in terms of finding ways to interact with and support customers.

Though installed in her job for just a few weeks, Azarello has already set out her priorities. "One of the things you could expect from us is that we'll be behaving like one OpenView," she said. Previously, OpenView was a portfolio of businesses but customer feedback has shown that they want to see better integration between the products in the OpenView family, Azarello said. Awareness and understanding of OpenView is also a challenge, she added.

"The people outside [HP], in my view, do not know OpenView well enough. OpenView is a great secret that is leading the way in network managing services. HP has always been known as a hardware company. There's a lot of work to do in communicating our commitment [in this regard]," Azarello said.

Since HP's test and measurement unit was spun off as an independent company, Agilent Technologies, could this also be an option for HP's software business?

Azarello confirmed HP has evaluated the notion of spinning off OpenView in recent years. But a decision has been made not to spin off the group, reflecting the importance of the company's focus on e-services, she said.

The Asia-Pacific market for HP, including Japan, typically represents about 5 to 10 per cent of the overall business, said Azarello. She added that the growth for the OpenView business in the region has been very strong. "In terms of growth rate, [Asian markets are] the highest," she said.

In Asia-Pacific, including Japan, the region's share of the worldwide OpenView business is about 15 to 18 per cent, according to Steve Au-Yeung, general manager of HP's Software Solution Business Unit in Asia-Australia. It is expected that OpenView will make up 10 per cent of HP's revenue by 2003, he added.

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