Hewlett-Packard believes most IT managers are out of the loop on the really big strategic decisions made by their companies, even if technology is central to just about everything their firm does.
Many users continue to see IT as a cost centre and are measuring IT with methods that don't provide a true picture of its contribution, such as server uptime, said Deborah Nelson, HP's senior vice president of marketing and alliances. Nelson said that the problem is reflected in the role CIOs have in their organisation. Only a third of the CIOs HP has surveyed have a role in strategic decision-making, which reflects the failure of most companies to see technology as key to competitive advantage.
"We believe that IT as we know it is really over," says Nelson, adding that IT has to enter a new phase -- what HP is calling "business technology."
That's how HP introduced a variety of new services and offerings intended to help accelerate business growth, lower costs and increase operational efficiency. Those services focus on business intelligence, data centres and overall IT management, coupled with reference architectures for ready-to-deploy offerings for Microsoft Exchange Server, Oracle and SAP.
The intent, according to Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research in Massachusetts, is a shift by HP away from selling products to solving business problems. HP also wants to standardise and prepackage its offerings to improve customer efficiency, he says.
Instead of buying servers from HP and services from someone else, HP is getting an increasing proportion of its revenue for solving business problems, says Gillett, who says the effort seeks "to build up the aggregated revenue across the company".
Nelson's view on IT's shifting role isn't an abrupt realisation for the company. HP officials have been talking for the last several years about the tighter linkage between IT and business. In 2003, it detailed its Adaptive Enterprise strategy and coupled that with the Darwin Reference Architecture. The goal was to improve IT environments through simplification, standardisation and modularity. The announcement continues that broader theme: In areas such as BI, HP is offering technologies and services to help integrate silos of information in a company.
Among the new services are its "HP Adaptive Infrastructure Maturity Model," which is intended to help customers assess their data centres by measuring operational efficiency, quality of service and speed of change based on industry benchmarks and data HP has acquired from other companies.
HP is also offering management services to incorporate the best practices embodied in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library. A major update, version three, is due next month.