Sunday 18 September 2011

Vision, or lack thereof

Over recent weeks there has been a great deal of chatter about the future of Apple - now that their great visionary leader has called it a day, for his health reasons. It shall be interesting to see how Apple continues to innovate and delight users several years from now once Job's ideas-in-the-pipeline are all used up and they have to create their own.

In contrast, we have Hewlett-Packard announcing all sorts of departures - from the PC business, the Tablet business, and possibly the Hardware business, wanting to solely focus on financial software services. Good luck entering that uncrowded sector...

Back in my days as an engineering student, HP was to be seen everywhere - scientific calculators (together with Texas Instruments) and all their lab gear like oscilloscopes (as was Tektronix). HP was seen as an innovator, or should I say Bill and Dave were, not HP the company. Today, what does HP actually stand for ?

A lot has been said about Carly Fiona's poor decision for the purchase of Compaq - it was a reactionary buy rather than a visionary's. And when did a great instrument company become a computer company anyway ?

The tech industry loves heroes, and pretty much ignore faceless corporations. Rational's stuff was great to use while there were the "Three Amigos". These products are now buried deep within Big Blue's catalog. The trio have long gone as has market share in modeling tools.

What is your vision, HP ? What is your identity ? Leave out all that "Maximizing shareholder value" because you are being sued by your shareholders. Companies need to innovate now more than ever, and communicate those visions of the ideal future. Apple does this well - products are well designed, manufactured, and packaged - and a pleasure to use. HP needs to dream big and create a new category or it will not survive.

Two companies, on opposite sides of the spectrum, both requiring a Vision. One to maintain their leadership position, the other from irrelevance.