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Monday, January 14, 2013

HP is Not IBM

This isn't to say that Gerstner couldn't save HP - what he accomplished back in the 90's is a case study in turnarounds.  It's simply not the same environment today as it was in 1993.

There are, however, some spooky similarities between HP of today, and the IBM Gerstner inherited.

When Gerstner took over, IBM had just experienced an 8 Billion dollar loss - at that point, this was the largest corporate loss in history - their stock was down 6%.  Many pundits strongly recommended breaking IBM up into  "Baby Blues" - the breaking up of Big Blue, into little divisions and selling them off - being the only way IBM could survive.

IBM was the largest, most profitable computer hardware manufacturer of the day enjoying 40% margin on hardware. At the time, selling services was completely alien and new not just to IBM, but to an industry.

And that industry was dying.   These words from Business Week, 1992 -

"As the monolithic mainframe gives way, the industry breaks into leaner, faster, smaller parts...

It sure looks like an industry on the skids. The signs are everywhere and grow more painful every day: Worldwide leader IBM Corp. is shedding 40,000 workers this year, for a total of 100,000 since 1985. No. 2 Digital Equipment Corp. ousts its founder, after taking $3.1 billion in charges over two years to cut 18,000 jobs and vacate 165 facilities. Wang Laboratories Inc. files for Chapter 11 protection. France's Groupe Bull lays off 8,000 workers and closes 8 of 13 factories; Italy's Olivetti downsizes by 20%; Siemens Nixdorf plans to lose 6,000 workers. And the list goes on."

Gerstner incorporated a great deal of strategies, most remember and point to a few key unusual approaches that, today, are part of every company's 'come-back plan':

Get the rest on Walters & Shutwell...

Arnold.  1993 Movie -

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