Slicing a multi-billion-dollar global business in two would perhaps not strike anyone as being a simple task.
And so on 1 August this year, when HP prepared to split operationally into HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), nervous HP execs braced themselves for a barrage of problems.
Among them was Andy Isherwood (pictured), then managing director of the whole of HP UK, who too was fearing the worst.
“I didn’t go on holiday,” he said. “I had teams stood up here dialling in at 7am waiting for all the problems. We split every single system - each customer has a different trading relationship with the two companies, every channel partner has different support mechanisms – everything!”
But despite the concerns, nothing bad happened, Isherwood said, even admitting that the process went so well as to be “slightly bizarre”.
He made the claims when speaking to CRN to mark the formal separation of HP Inc and HPE, which happened on 2 November and saw him become managing director of HPE.
He described the day as “symbolic” and claimed the hard work for HP and its partners had been done in the months preceding the official split.
“I think if you talk to partners, they will say ‘did it happen?’” he said. “They have been, frankly, amazed at the lack of disruption to their business. We said we would take our systems down for three days and they thought it would be more like three weeks, at best. But it was three days.”
HP partners agreed with Isherwood – Softcat’s managing director Colin Brown described the split as “no bother” and DTP’s boss Howard Hall said things are very much “business as usual”.
Isherwood said his new role at HPE boss will give him more time and scope to focus on the server, storage and infrastructure offerings of the company and added that two firms are most definitely better than one.
“This company, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, will be about speed,” he said. “It will be about having the mindset of a startup. How can we be quick? How can we be in industries and businesses that are growing? And how can we get out of stuff quicker if they’re not working? That is really what this separation and launch of Hewlett Packard Enterprise is about.”
Despite the broad strategic goals of HP Inc and HPE changing dramatically now the split has been made official, Isherwood was keen to stress that from a day-to-day perspective, partners of either – or both – companies will be much the same.
“The way in which we have engaged with partners historically is always focused around solutions,” he said. “We’ve had people focused on our PC and laptop business; we’ve had people focused on our managed-print services.
“So the people remain the same, but the legal entities they represent are different. Take Computacenter, for example – they will have a contract with HPE and HP Inc. The people that turn up will be from different companies, but typically, they will be the same people. This is why people aren’t seeing and feeling that suddenly everything is going to change and their businesses are at risk. They are not.”
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