Last summer I went to HPE Discover in Las Vegas and wrote about the company’s organizational progress and lack of marketing acumen. Half a sun’s orbit later, they still haven’t found a good way to communicate what they are up to. It’s not clear of these things are set in stone (and I certainly hope they aren’t) but yesterday we heard them talk about “simplifying hybrid IT”, “driving the intelligent edge” and leveraging their experience and talents. I think most of us in the room threw up in our mouths a little bit. The first impressions were a tangle of boredom and confusion, and first impressions are the only ones that matter.
Great corporate messaging is short and memorable. It communicates a business vision or experience that means something to customers, employees, partners or other interested parties. It communicates a reason for conducting business. It implies a meaningful direction. Everybody that hears or sees the message should be able to repeat it without memorizing it. It doesn’t try to be all-encompassing. It doesn’t try to define the company’s business opportunities. It doesn’t try to be clever. It doesn’t need to be looked up on a PowerPoint slide or Googled.
But rather than just complain, I decided to make up my own messaging for HPE – the one that I will use when I talk to anybody about what HPE is doing.
Automation and Infrastructure Excellence.
There it is. Four words that make an impression. I fully expect anybody who reads this to think “no” for any number of reasons, but that is exactly how messaging (and naming) become so thorny. Instead, I would say, try to figure out how to use it.
What do IT customers need to manage their big, changing infrastructures? Automation. Orchestration, metrics, provisioning and modeling are all aspects of automation. Data protection and security are worthless if they are not automated. Automation is the holy grail for all things cloud-like, whether that cloud likeness is an acquisition experience or the transparency of changing the underlying technology an application runs on. Everybody in the IT business knows that this stuff is complicated and that there are no “simple” solutions, but the processes for managing it can always be improved upon with automation power tools. That is what HPE’s Synergy and OneView are all about. These are pillar, cornerstone products that should be front and center in the understanding of what HPE stands for. Hence the word “Automation” without ornamentation or constraints.
What do people running businesses want from any aspect of their business? Excellence. Not perfection, but the best effort to achieve the best result. HPE is in the infrastructure business and all that encompasses with respect to cloud integration. Hybrid cloud technologies are not necessarily required to be excellent, but HPE certainly wants their hybrid cloud solutions to be excellent, which is why they are putting so much emphasis on automation.
What about things like The Machine – Hewlett Packard Labs’ project to create a persistent memory computing paradigm? It is an attempt to create infrastructure excellence where it is not clear what the applications will be. That’s OK. It’s important for HPE to look for new ways to create excellent infrastructures, whether they are used in datacenters, manufacturing plants, life sciences research, health care, vehicles, etcetera. And everybody wants their infrastructures to be excellent, in whatever way they define excellence.
And what about IoT and analytics, which are also key to HPE’s strategy? I’d argue that both are part of infrastructure excellence. You need an excellent infrastructure to run analytics, to acquire and process IoT information, to make the business decisions that are needed to have an excellent, digitally-wired and responsive organization. HPE will partner with many numerous analytics and IoT software companies and all of them will appreciate and help sell HPE’s excellent, automated infrastructure solutions.