5 Reasons HP Customers Should (Still) Give Thanks

As the U.S. prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 27, we prepared a healthy serving of specialized content for the holiday. Today's edition: Five reasons Hewlett-Packard customers should give thanks this holiday season -- even after HP yesterday disclosed another weak quarter of financial results.

5. Clarity of Leadership: Admittedly, HP is struggling on multiple fronts. The company yesterday announced Q4 revenues of $28.4 billion -- down 2.5 percent from Q4 last year. The figure was below analyst expectations of $28.8 billion. Alas, HP is playing catchup in both the cloud and mobile markets. Still, CEO Meg Whitman has largely stabilized the business since taking over HP in September 2011 -- when former CEO Leo Apotheker was pushed out the door.

4. Divide and Conquer: HP has had an identity crisis ever since the company announced plans to take over Compaq Computer in September 2001. While IBM gradually exited the PC and low-end x86 server markets, HP kept fighting the good fight against Dell, Lenovo and other big-name PC makers. Now, HP is finally willing to part company -- splitting into an enterprise business and a PC/printer company. I'm not suggesting both will be more successful on their own. But a decade of togetherness certainly wasn't all that fruitful, either. Now, roughly 400 people are working on the HP split up plan.

3. The Next Dimension: Finally, HP shared its 3D printer story in October 2014. The HP pitch, and the 3D products, are late to market. But at least they exist -- which is far more than HP could say about a year ago.

2. Return to R&D: Under former CEO Mark Hurd, HP slashed annual R&D to about 2.5 percent of annual revenues in 2010, down from about 4.25 percent in early 2005. The result, Hurd critics claim, was a poor innovation pipeline. By 2012 under Whitman, R&D was beginning to inch up again, back to 2.8 percent of revenues. And overall R&D dollars spent started to climb: $3.0 billion in 2011; $3.3 billion in 2011; and $3.4 billion in 2012. The result, HP claims, involves products lines like the Moonshot portfolio -- a highly strategic server and data center play that may still require several more years to pay big dividends.

1. No More Board Leaks: During the dark decade (from about 2001 to about 2011), HP suffered from endless boardroom leaks. Confidential Information about executive changes, acquisition targets, and boardroom debates hit The Wall Street Journal and other major media outlets every few months. Even worse, the leaks involved unnamed sources -- putting HP's leadership and PR departments on the defensive over and over again. Gradually, under CEO Whitman, the leaks have dried up. Talk of boardroom infighting has shifted to talk of customer focus. 

Still, the pending HP breakup and rumors of more layoffs could cause plenty of employees to lose focus. Let's hope Meg Whitman keeps the employee ranks engaged with customers.

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