Brand: Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Agency: Interfuse Communications, a Ketchum Company
Situation analysis: The value of a Mars-shot
One year after Hewlett-Packard’s historic separation, the newly formed Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), a B2B technology leader, saw a critical gap emerging. While the company retained a strong overall reputation, stakeholders, from investors to customers and even employees, were not equating HPE with innovation or the advanced technologies that would drive the future – from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to computing platforms designed for big data. This was a blow to the successor of the fabled company founded nearly 80 years ago in a garage in Palo Alto – long recognized as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.
Contrary to stakeholder perception, reality was that HPE, a leader in High Performance Computing (HPC) and cutting-edge data center technologies, had been doubling down on growth areas, including supercomputing technologies. In 2016, a year after the separation, HPE acquired supercomputing powerhouse SGI, solidifying its position as a supercomputing giant with an impressive pipeline. The company made a number of other impressive moves – expanding R&D investment, announcing strategic acquisitions and unveiling major breakthroughs from the storied Hewlett Packard Labs. But with all of these ‘wins,’ HPE still wasn’t winning. In September 2016, Steve Wexler, an industry insider, wrote “HPE’s strategy is as clear as mud.” And, Wall Street concurred, with many analysts not recommending HPE shares. HPE also appeared to be losing mindshare to competitors that were getting credit for the transformative technologies widely seen as reshaping the technology landscape.