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Hewlett-Packard can't afford to let competition keep winning

Rob Enderle | June 17, 2013
IBM came to Las Vegas for a recent event to do battle, while HP came to give executives face time. This was like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

The conversations about strategic initiatives, meanwhile, focused on the idea of taking IBM Watson to the next level.

  • For example, the Chief Medical Officer from WellPoint argues that, using Watson technology, he can save thousands of cancer patients, potentially including members of the IBM Edge audience, and halt the trend of medical costs doubling every five years in the United States.
  • A cybersecurity presentation then demonstrated how Watson could be used to analyze government security threats in real-time and mitigate those threats through a variety of physical and cyber responses from IBM and third parties. This, essentially, is applied artificial intelligence.
  • Finally, Pew Charitable Trusts showed how Watson, coupled with other IBM technologies, could reduce state and national election fraud and increase both the number of eligible voters and the ease with which they voted.

Each Watson use case has significant global implications that could improve quality of life and prevent a variety of significant problems.

Meanwhile, HP Discovers It's Overmatched

HP was overmatched because it didn't see IBM's move for what it was and accordingly adjust its event to appear competitive. This is the second time this year I've seen HP choose to ignore what IBM said to an influential audience and, as a result, appear out of step. Marketing, not individual product groups or the office of the CEO, drove the message at IBM Edge. IBM came to Las Vegas to do battle, while HP came to give executives face time. This was like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

HP was simply overmatched-but even if the company stepped up, it's not clear HP is ready to play at this level. IBM's turnaround has been more than a decade in the making. HP is only two years into a five- to seven-year process, one which former CEO Mark Hurd crippled by killing R&D projects such as the HP Smartwatch and arriving late to the 3-D printing market. IBM isn't positioned to counter either move, but HP can't capitalize.

HP has nothing that compares to Watson. Yes, HP's Project Moonshot is currently unmatched, but it's not on the same level as Watson, which IBM has cleverly positioned as a product that's poised to save the world.

Big Blue easily beat HP in Las Vegas, and HP needs to discover how to make sure this doesn't happen again. After all, if you aren't going to play to win, why bother to play?


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