The day Randy Mott left Dell for Hewlett-Packard in 2005 it caused a stir in the IT world. At the time, HP was a company in transition. Its CEO Carly Fiorina had been ousted following the most tempestuous period in the company's history, and the new CEO Mark Hurd recognized immediately that a major change was necessary to stabilize the company.
The HP IT infrastructure was disparate and starting to creak with age. The merging of systems from recent acquisitions Compaq and Digital Equipment had merely served to increase the sprawl of technology and a massive overhaul of the IT system was required. Hurd knew and respected Mott, and set out to lure him away from one of HP's major competitors, Dell.
The business relationship that had endured for a decade between the two men eased the process and, three months after Hurd started at HP, the deal was done. Not only had Hurd gained a visionary CIO, he had also stung his rival in the process.
Mott's mission was to overhaul the legacy systems and help turn HP from the bloated leviathan it had become into a lean, mean, agile organization. If a revolution was needed, Randall D. Mott was the man for the job.
In many ways, Mott is the CIO's CIO and is credited with helping to define the role. His tenet is that IT should not only support the business, but help to improve its efficiency and boost the bottom line.
IT integral to business
"In almost all companies today, IT is involved in every area of the business process," he says. "If you go back to when I started three decades ago, IT was in back-room applications, or in a part of the business; it wasn't involved in every area of the business. Today, IT is really a part of everything a company does in almost every industry.
"What's changed is obviously the integration of these things, the complexity of having to think through any changes you make, and the impact it has, because it's throughout the company. The challenges are in many ways the same, but I think the breadth in which those challenges now apply to the business, as well as the complexity of integration, are probably the biggest changes."
Mott's career in IT started when he joined Wal-Mart in 1978 as a 21-year-old programmer. He rose through the ranks and was appointed CIO in 1994, immediately stamping his mark on the company in his new role. At that time, the data warehouse was a new concept, but Mott could see it would bring an edge to Wal-Mart's ability to react quickly to market changes. The data warehousing concept matched his unshakable conviction that IT should be aligned with business processes, a revolutionary thought in the 1990s, and the search was on for a suitable supplier.
One of the leading companies in new data management systems was Teradata, then a subsidiary of NCR. Hurd was a vice president at NCR and the deal between Teradata and Wal-Mart started the business relationship that would eventually lead to Mott's appointment as CIO of HP.