Hewlett-Packard is amongst one of the largest information technology companies across the globe today despite starting off when computers were nowhere around. The strength instilled into the company by the earlier initiatives of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. After the dramatic departure of Carleton S. Fiorina, Mark V. Hurd was appointed as the new CEO of the company whose aspirations regarding quality have always been high.
Mark's approach has been aggressive to say the least counting the number of acquisitions undertaken by HP during the last five to six years under his tenure. It is probably well understood by him that a company like HP needed a big turnaround after the previous CEO stepped down from office. It is my personal belief that Mark's strategy to turnaround HP has been successful and that a lot of what he has done is inspired from the very strategy that its co-founders employed during the golden years of the company. The revenues of HP stood at $118.4 billion in 2008 and the company was listed at No. 9 in the Fortune 500 listings. Not only this but the corporate culture of the firm was relaxed allowing its 321,000 employees greater interaction, lesser obstacles and coordinated partnership.
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The amount of research initiatives undertaken by Mark are clearly an example that he wanted HP to be headed in the direction of innovation and that he aspired the company to be a leader in technology. Though traditionally HP was only associated with printers in the early 1990s, this had changed by the time Mark stepped in. However, what Mark did was that he transformed HP from a pure hardware company to an information technology giant whose reach extended into applications, solutions, desktops, laptops, servers and even software. In short, the acquisitions under Mark resemble that the objective of the management of HP was to take it one step ahead of the traditional approach to printing.
His actions are of course, not without changes made within the organization. There were several significant changes in the internal dynamics and the way people were managed at HP. For one, Mark's approach was people-centric and his objective was to maximize the productivity of his employees rather than increase the headcount. His first strategy in office that directly affected the employees was to reduce the headcount at HP (Girija & Chaitanya, 2005). Though critical and not one of the best decisions to make as a new CEO, downsizing never proved to be a wrong move for him - it has not back fired till now at least. The idea behind these moves was to probably consolidate the talented employees so that productivity levels could be increased and that there could be an increase in the average intelligence of the organization.
Another important strategy that was at the bottom of HP's success was initiative for research. Research labs were opened in Beijing, Bangalore and St. Petersburg all aimed at improving the existing technology and developing newer products and solutions through collaborative research and development. HP's focus on research was probably at its peak during the last three years or so because it has been churning out some of the sleekest and most efficient printers, laptops, servers and applications in the technology industry. The company was transformed by Mark from a back-seat company to a high-powered giant who was ready to lock horns with all the major technology manufacturers and gain their share of the pie too through aggressive marketing.
Communication between teams, managers and sites was improved greatly with several technological advancements making online collaboration easier, cheaper and effective. Mark, himself, adopted the practice of walking across the offices and communicating with employees so that he could get to know them better, understand their concerns, listen to their ideas and experiment with a few (Robbins & Judge, 2004). The organizational design was relaxed and greater flexibility was inducted into the company ranks to facilitate innovation and increase the motivation of the workforce. Motivation was one factor that was strictly needed by Mark because his central cost-cutting strategy has revolved around downsizing - the last of them being a laying off of 24,000 US employees in order to fit in Electronic Data Services Corporation (EDS) into the HP structure (Saran, 2008). The downsizing has been as a result of the acquisitions which have run into two digits in the past half of a decade. Mark's strategy over the past couple of years has been to identify over-sized companies who may be in financial turmoil and acquire them, and then downsize them to match their employee-size ratio with that of HP.
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Though nothing wrong about it, this strategy has been a critical point for the management of HP with several employee unions crying high and low for their rights. Undeterred and unfazed, Mark has continued to focus on his core: reducing costs and focusing on expansion into other industries. HP's latest acquisitions give them representation in the healthcare, government sector, financial services, energy, transportation and the manufacturing services industry too!
As it stands, Hewlett-Packard has become a brand with hardly any industry where it has no business at all. In fact, the company has become a giant too big for most of its competitors to handle (Burrows, 2005). The strategies undertaken by Mark V. Hurd have all had relation to theory and practical - historical steps undertaken by companies during acquisitions. His acquisition strategy has not for once wavered and he continues to make moves in the saturated market aggressively. Organizational development has been at the very centre of his moves and his desire to reduce barriers between people has seen enterprise-wide implementation - a brilliant achievement for this big an organization. Another surprising approach undertaken by Mark was to centralize and consolidate his sales teams across the globe in a bid to reduce the global footprint - a move that has surprised many because of the large scale of supply chain management that he has attempted to bring together under one roof.
It should not be too long before we can expect HP to move into nearly every industry under the sun and have a controlling stake in information technology across the globe. HP is the only firm in the world to gross in excess of $100 billion and given the prospects that lie ahead one can only wonder what the man-in-charge, Mark, would be gaffing at (Saran, 2008). It is obviously something only time will tell and what could surprise even some of the most renowned pundits in the world of technology.