Posts Tagged ‘HP’

Oracle Speaks, Hurd Listens

Posted in BI and Analytics, Enterprise Applications, Information Management, IT Industry on September 7th, 2010 by DStodder – Be the first to comment

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd’s severance vacation and search of the help-wanted listings proved to be short. Oracle announced that Hurd will be joining the company’s board of directors and will assume the position of president. Current co-president Safra Catz is staying, but Charles Phillips has departed. Phillips deserves credit for improving Oracle’s customer relationships during his era; it’s easy to forget now how raw those relationships were at the time he took the helm. However, like the end of Hurd’s reign at HP, Phillips’ more extended finale came with embarrassing personal distractions.

HP is not accepting Hurd’s new position peaceably. The company has filed a lawsuit, noting that by joining Oracle, Hurd is violating a confidentiality agreement and “[putting] HP’s trade secrets and confidential information in peril.” Given that Oracle is increasingly more of a competitor than a partner to HP, it’s easy to see HP’s difficulty with this turn of events. I don’t know whether HP’s lawsuit will succeed in stopping Hurd’s appointment, but a quick read of experts quoted in the business press seems to suggest that it will not.

The arrival of Mark Hurd at Oracle could be a huge development that will send shock waves across the industry. As evidenced by recent trading, investors seem bullish about Oracle’s prospects with Hurd’s arrival. Here as six points that I see as significant with regard to his hiring:

-          Hurd will bring leadership to Oracle’s hardware, systems and data center push. This is new: Oracle will now have a top executive with experience in the hardware and systems business. Oracle’s steady core has always been database software, with services and other types of software and services subject to shifts in strategy and restructuring. Will Hurd, after looking at the business prospects for the Sun offerings, try to change Oracle’s balance to go strong after HP and IBM? Or will Hurd conclude that Oracle needs to mend its relations?

-          Hurd is Oracle’s first strong #2 since Ray Lane. Oracle experienced significant growth during Lane’s years as president and COO with Oracle, but his relationship with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison soured, and he was gone after eight years. Hurd is no shrinking violet, especially after having been the CEO of two different companies. What will happen when Hurd and Ellison disagree? And will they agree on the possible acquisitions that everyone expects will happen?

-          Hurd will be tempted to “cut the fat” inside Oracle. No doubt, part of Wall Street’s positive reaction to Hurd’s appointment reflects the view that he could make Oracle even more profitable by taking an axe to internal costs, as he did at HP, and hold managers more accountable. Oracle is run more efficiently than HP was when Hurd took over, but it is an established company with over 100,000 employees. Surely an outsider with the practiced eye of Hurd will find areas to trim. How will this affect Oracle’s internal psyche?

-          Hurd could invigorate Oracle in the channel. Hurd has a reputation for valuing channel partner relationships – an area where Oracle has had trouble. Hurd could make improvement here a focus, and help Oracle counter stronger direction from IBM and Microsoft.

-          Hurd’s hiring will be a catalyst for change in the industry. If Hurd does make Oracle a more serious player in the server, storage and data center business, competitors will have to react. If its stock price continues to fall, would a Cisco Systems, EMC or even Microsoft make a play for HP? Wild thoughts, but then the IT industry has not really had to deal with Oracle as the sort of broad-based player it could now become.

-          Hurd could give more oomph to Oracle’s BI, analytics and data warehousing. With the 11g releases, Oracle is in the early stages of an important product cycle for business intelligence, analytics and data warehousing. Hurd was clearly a believer in the power of BI at HP; I would expect him to give Oracle’s offerings an even higher profile.

Larry Ellison, whether fired up by a friends’ misfortune or the opportunity to bruise a competitor, has succeeded in planting a couple of banderillas in the HP bull, angering and distracting it. But now, by bringing Hurd on board, he could be about to change Oracle itself.

Good Data Equals Good Health – and Lower Costs

Posted in BI and Analytics, Healthcare, Information Management on August 22nd, 2010 by DStodder – Be the first to comment

I arrived at my first meeting at TDWI in San Diego late, still hyperventilating from legging out a long hot walk from my hotel, where I had dumped my bags after a gnarly drive down to “America’s Finest City” from Los Angeles. So, perhaps appropriately, my first meeting was with a company in the healthcare industry: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, co-winner of TDWI’s Enterprise Data Warehouse Best Practices Award. The company won the award as a customer of HP Business Intelligence Solutions.

The healthcare industry is obviously undergoing tremendous change, with new government policies and economics challenging the business models of insurance and managed care providers such as “Blue KC.” The transition is away from controlling benefits – that is, denying benefits – and increasing rates as the primary tools for managing costs. The future is “wellness,” or helping members get or stay healthy. “We want to improve the health of our members so that they don’t become ‘patients,’ said Darren Taylor, vice president, Information Access Division with Blue KC. “If we can do that, then we can take care of costs from within the context of that objective.”

Wellness requires knowing more about members, which means that the companies need vastly improved data management and analysis. Connecting to disparate data systems and establishing a single enterprise data warehouse (EDW) are proving critical to accomplishing Blue KC’s objectives with its membership. Previously, Blue KC had outsourced diabetes or other disease management programs “to good companies,” Taylor said, “but we did not have enough insight into these proprietary systems.” The company could not integrate or analyze multiple sources of data about one member to understand how, for example, their heart conditions, asthma or other issues were related. Gaining this single view is essential. With the EDW in place, the company is able to bring these disparate data sources in house.

Taylor was VP of the IT group, but his group now reports to Blue KC’s CFO. “There’s more accountability. IT is usually about waiting for requirements. We’re now about anticipating needs, and bringing business and IT together to execute on our data warehouse strategy.”

Hurd at Sea

Posted in BI and Analytics, Information Management on August 20th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

As we pulled out into San Diego harbor, the dusk was calm. The increasing dark settled slowly over the lingering sunset hues of pink and orange. A gentle breeze filled the sails of the big schooner as we began our cruise with members of Hewlett-Packard’s Business Intelligence Solutions group and customers, who were in town this week to attend The Data Warehouse Institute (TDWI) conference. The captain invited guests to help hoist sails, which we did. Now it was time for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Dinner would follow.

The only disconcerting – but at the same time, entertaining – part of the cruise was what appeared to be a U.S. Navy SEALs training session going on all around us. Helicopters swooped low and gunboats raced by; as darkness fell, more copters lit the water with searchlights, putting the bay under close surveillance. San Diego mostly basks in sunny, happy weather, but overhead and out on the water, you see constant reminders of San Diego’s key role in the serious business of hosting naval forces that defend the country and project American power.

As expected, HP personnel kept their lips sealed about the continuing saga of Mark Hurd, HP’s former CEO, the HP Board and actress/marketing consultant Jodie Fisher. With media such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the blogosphere filling in details daily, it was hard not to bring it up. Some HP folks smiled guardedly in agreement when it was suggested to them that while the mess is not pleasant, HP might be better off replacing Hurd’s fearsome regime of performance accountability and tight spending control with more creative, inventive and inspiring leadership.

I couldn’t help but reflect on the excitement Hurd generated when he joined HP in 2005 after previously heading up NCR and its then Teradata division. When Hurd became CEO, he made it clear that he “got it” when it came to BI, analytics and data warehousing, both with regard to the company’s internal management and his strategy for HP’s software products and services. He hired Randall Mott away from Dell to become HP’s executive VP and CIO; before his time at Dell, Mott was CIO at Wal-Mart, where he led its successful and influential enterprise data warehouse foray. Hurd directed Mott to consolidate HP’s numerous data centers and data marts to reduce costs and improve BI and analytics.

Under Hurd’s leadership, HP increased investment in database technology, particularly NeoView. However, strategies kept shifting, internal cost control became the focus and NeoView did not have the market impact that HP once hoped it might have. A big challenge was balancing its database software development strategy with its ongoing partnerships with Oracle, Microsoft and other players entrenched in the BI and data warehousing market. So, rather than software, HP’s BI foot forward became consulting services and solutions. In late 2006, HP bought the respected Knightsbridge Solutions, which has become the centerpiece of its BI and data warehouse consulting services. An HP BI Solutions customer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, was selected as co-winner of TDWI’s 2010 Best Practices Award for Enterprise Data Warehousing.

I had the opportunity to talk to Darren Taylor, vice president, Information Access Division with “Blue KC.” I’ll write about this discussion in my next blog, which will offer some quick takes about my meetings at TDWI in San Diego. Closing out this one, it will be interesting to see if HP installs a new CEO with the same kind of vision Hurd seemed to have about the power of BI and data warehousing – but with more soul, and more consistency in terms of the strategic drive and investment needed to succeed in a tough marketplace.

You Had to Tweet There

Posted in BI and Analytics, Information Management, Social Media & Behavior on March 5th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Tweeting has become a fact of life at industry analyst briefings, and at perhaps more social events than I’m even aware of. Cocktail parties have become tweetups. People get married, break up and live together tweeting. If Archie and Edith Bunker were still on television, we would watch them tweeting.

Up until the last two weeks, I had not been much of a tweeter – and felt guilty about it. I had Twitter followers and followed people. I even wrote about Twitter and its impact; but frankly, it had had very little impact on me. With my infrequent participation, I felt unworthy of followship. And when I did go to Twitter, it was joining conversations in progress and I couldn’t flow with it.

My Twitter awakening took place at the Informatica Analyst Conference, held on February 9 and 10. I attended this event – I was there in person, listening to many fine presentations from Informatica executives. As has been my habit for two decades, I opened up my computer and started to take notes, listening and watching carefully. However, it wasn’t until I logged onto Twitter and checked in on the hash tag (#infaanalyst) that I was really there.

Or not there: It was hard to decide whether being involved in the Twitter conversation was a distraction or an enhancement. It was sort of exhilarating, kind of like surfing, with a mass of water moving below your feet, or in this case, my fingertips. Yet, Informatica people were watching the tweets carefully, and while they did not join the stream, they were responding to tweets during their presentations. Sohaib Abbasi, Informatica chairman and CEO, even picked up my tweet about the role of the CIO and offered insights during his remarks.

Convinced that Twitter was important, I made a point of following tweets from the SAS industry analyst conference earlier this past week (#sassb), since I was not physically there. Many of the same analysts who were at the Informatica conference were tweeting from this event. Some tweets were matter-of-fact restatements of what SAS was presenting, as if reporting to the outside world. These offered narrative value, but given Twitter’s character limit, they couldn’t provide much beyond headlines. Sometimes the NDA (nondisclosure) curtain would fall and there would be silence. Most other tweets were a combination of opinions, humorous asides, kudos, complaints and half-formed questions. An ensemble narrative it was not; since I was having trouble following the thread, I finally logged off and turned to other matters. My conclusion: You had to be there.

Then today, I had a third type of Twitter experience. I participated in the Boulder BI Brain Trust meeting with Hewlett Packard’s Business Intelligence Solutions group, represented by John Santaferraro, senior director of Marketing Communications and Industry Marketing. This time, while not physically there, I was dialed in by phone – and was on Twitter (#bbbt). This tweet stream was more like a parallel reality; HP did not really respond to tweets as Informatica had, but the flow seemed more sensible because I was hearing the presentation in real time, alongside the real-time tweet stream. Of course, tweet streams are real time and nothing else; when I go back and review the presentation and my notes later, the stream won’t be there (maybe I could hunt it down, but I won’t).

In the analyst business these days, tweeting is obligatory, as it is for marketing and public relations. I’m initiated now, and will tweet more. But, are the tweets of any use to anyone not physically there, or part of the tight community of tweeters? I think the jury is out on that. Can you follow a hash tag and “be there”?  No, at least not yet. It’s more like archeology, where you piece together disparate pieces and try to form a narrative. In real time.