The world according to Carly

Hewlett-Packard (HP) might not know the trouble Sun Microsystems has seen, but in her career at HP, Carly Fiorina has seen the same type of second-guessing that now trails Sun's Scott McNealy. This makes Fiorina a corporate survivor, which in today's world holds a status equivalent to the one a shaman enjoyed in early tribal societies.

''We at HP have been through a lot of change,'' Fiorina told IT professionals gathered at Forrester's Executive Strategy Forum in Boston in October. She outlined her views on IT's future and HP's role in shaping it.

In the 1990s, folks were more ready to throw technology at problems. High-tech was a silver bullet and ''speed was key. It was not so much about being on budget,'' said Fiorina. ''Users feared that if they weren't spending a lot on tech, they would be left behind.''

Now the reality is that people expect a certain type of magic, but at a cut-rate price. ''What people now want from technology is everything,'' Fiorina said. ''They want high quality, reliability, cost effectiveness and it has to be easy to use.''

To get where you want to go, you first need to measure, said Fiorina, echoing a theme HP has played since its first days. What needs to be measured? Time, range and ease of use. ''Time is how long it takes to change things,'' she said, using her firm as an example. ''At HP it used to take five weeks to add a supplier to the supply chain. Now it takes two hours.'' Her message seemed to be: You have to know these details, even as a CEO.

''Range is how broadly you can effect decisions,'' she noted. And technology must allow you to effect decisions with less effort than before, which is what Fiorina means by ''easy to use.''

Fiorina seemed sure that HP could prosper in an IT world where one must ''simplify, standardize, modularize and integrate.''

''Our greatest challenge is to leverage our unique portfolio on behalf of customers,'' she said.

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.


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