HPE’s Discover 2016 in London took place under clear skies and record low temperatures. More than 13,000 attendees converged inside London’s ExCel convention center for what was the public culmination of HPE’s first year as a new company. This year’s event continued telling the story of the new company, and notably discussed new product and technology announcements, new hardware, and a new paradigm driven by the explosive growth of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices.
Day one of the event kicked off on the main floor, the Transformation Zone, which buzzed with displays of HPE and Partner technologies that spanned the spectrum. The technology exhibited included everything from automated electric cars to factory automation demonstrations – and even sported a “mobile-first hospitality experience,” which showed how HPE delivers an integrated and mobile hotel experience. The pervasive theme of Discover, however, was the impact that the IoT is having on traditional data centers and data collection.
The Intelligent Edge: HPE’s Vision for IoT
Meg Whitman, CEO of HPE, kicked off the General Session. She delivered a simple message: your industry is either already transformed, is transforming, or is ready to transform. She painted the picture of a world in which everything computes—“from cars to stadiums, train tracks to wind turbines….” These devices will all be interconnected – perpetually sharing and learning from each other. This vision sets the stage for HPE’s goal of being the “industry’s leading provider of hybrid IT, built on a secure next-generation software-defined infrastructure that will run customers’ data centers today, bridge to multi-cloud environments tomorrow, and power the emerging intelligent edge.” HPE is positioning itself to be the leading enabler of the IoT economy; to be the primary consolidator, and steward of an unprecedented amount of device-generated data.
New to me was the idea that companies can get ahead of others by leveraging what HPE calls the “Intelligent Edge,” or the ability to process data at its point of capture instead of having to send the raw bits to a data center. As data volumes increase at the point of capture, a new set of tools will become necessary to digest and process data.
The Advances that Make the Vision Possible
This shift can only work with the necessary hardware to process the immense amount of complex data already flowing from IoT connected devices around the world. The hardware focus has moved to the “Machine,” which puts the data first, not the CPU. Memory-Driven Computing is necessary to handle the complexity and volume of data emanating from the edge. Thanks to the acquisition of Aruba, HPE’s placement in networking gives it the reach necessary to consolidate IoT data collection, pre-processing, and processing – perhaps like no other company in today’s market. In Meg’s words, “HPE provides the technology to deliver value from the intersection of people, places, and things.”
Quote-to-Cash Holding HPE’s Vision Together
The primary message of Discover was that HPE is the company best-suited to enable the IoT transformation. As an expert in Quote-to-Cash automation, this got me thinking: What are the operational challenges facing HPE? How will they be able to provide end-to-end solutions to millions of small and medium-size companies around the world?
Meg’s own words on the latest earnings call provided a hint: “We need to shore up core ISS rack with improvements in the channel, improvements in quote-to-cash and more focus on the distributors and VARs for the volume related ISS rack business.”
My take-away is that HPE needs to transform themselves away from selling individual technology components, and move forcefully towards selling end-to-end solutions to their clients. How do you do this cleanly, quickly, and efficiently when you are a huge company, and a product of many acquisitions (and a few spin-offs)? You invest in a rationalization of your products and services across all business lines, customer and partner segments, and industry verticals. You focus on an omni-channel product master that allows you to expose all your products and services in the right way, at the right place, at the right time, to the right customers. Enterprise-grade Quote-to-Cash is the key to closing more business, faster, with ever-increasing complexity of products and solutions. Machine learning and intelligent cloud infrastructure will become key to enabling truly transformation sales execution.