2014-22-September-Drum-Duo.jpgHP ended months of speculation on its plans for the Autonomy acquisition in August with the announcement of its Big Data business group, which brought Vertica and Autonomy together on the same platform. 

Badly stung by the Autonomy acquisition, it had taken HP some time to stick its head up over the parapet again. But by pulling together Vertica and Autonomy, it did just that, and a lot more besides.

Realigning Business Groups

The reorganization of the HP big data and information management business groups took place in August, but the implications for HP Software are so profound that we decided to take a deeper look.

To do that, we spoke with Andrew Joiner, who heads the new Marketing Optimization Business group at HP. The principal goal, he said, was to align HP’s software with the emergence of new big data processes and business opportunities.

Background on the Reorganization

The realignment has been on the cards for quite some time. We spoke to Robert Youngjohns, the general manager of HP Software in April of last year. He hinted at some major changes in the business, but couldn’t go into a lot of detail at the time.

In the intervening period, HP announced a series of new launches around HP Autonomy and its unstructured data analysis platform, and Vertica, which offers enterprises the ability to analyze and take meaning from structured data.

HP announced the availability of a connector between Vertica and IDOL in January, which gave users the ability to analyze large sets of unstructured and structured data. There were other developments too across the Autonomy information discovery and management portfolio, not to mention improvements to its virtual reality platform Aurasma.

What do all of these announcements add up to and how does it fit into the realignment of HP’s software business? In a blog post about the reorganization announcement Youngjohns described it as follows:

As I’ve shared many times recently, 'big data changes everything' and today we are organizing HP’s Software business around this principle, to help people and organizations thrive in a world in which the explosion of data is disrupting how we live and work.
More importantly, though, he identified three different types of data that are disrupting business at the moment.

First, machine data and the Internet of Things is still in its nascent stages, and will yield entirely new ways of running businesses and serving citizens. Second, unstructured, human information -- such as social media, video, audio, email and free text—is an incredibly rich source of information that contains vital clues on literally any topic…Finally, structured data continues to play a vital role, forming the backbone of business applications."

The result is that HP Software is reorganized into five business groups, including the Big Data group, which includes:

  • HP Vertica: the analytics platform for machine, structured, and semistructured data
  • HP IDOL: the analytics platform for human information from Autonomy.
  • HP Compliance, Workflow and Data Management: Applications from Autonomy for archiving, data protection, , eDiscovery, information governance and Enterprise Content Management.

The other business groups include Marketing Optimization, Enterprise Security Products (ESP), IT Operations Management (ITOM) and Application Delivery Management (ADM).

Disruptive Big Data

The idea was that the combination of all five would help organizations thrive in an era of disruptive big data. The realignment was designed to carry HP forward for the next 10 years,

The reorganization was a big step for us. This is the first time that it have put together a cohesive strategy that will serve us for the next five to 10 years. With it, we aligned the software business on two principal axis that are going to be critical and will us sell us as a really high performing software company over the next five years.

The first of those axis is big data, which will change everything. Here, and in many ways, we had to re-educate the market. We had to refine they way people look at big data, which until today has generally been in terms of a data explosion. However, it's more than that. If you look at the rate of information creation, it's an ever increasing slope," said Joiner.

With this focus in mind, Joiner said that when HP analyzed its software business, it discovered that enterprises were struggling to manage big data in all of its business areas.

In every department, workers were struggling with bigger data sets whether security, compliance and legal, or marketing and customer engagement. HP, Joiner said, had two perfect fit products for those data sets, notably Vertica and Autonomy’s IDOL.

The second axis of change was aligning our portfolio [of software products] around the buying centers in the entererprise. We service as a primary buyer the IT professional, but where are they located in the enterprsie?

What we realized was that these buying centers were located all over the enterprises and that these centers were becoming more and more influential in the organization, whether it be security, or compliance which is the domain of legal, or the CMO who is the primary buyer behind marketing technology."

The result, Joiner said, is that HP Software has realigned its business around the new buying centers, not just technical outcomes, but also around business outcomes. A common infrastructure unites everything.

Vertica and Autonomy

In practical terms, this means a single big data platform that combines the assets of Vertica and Autonomy, which also gives HP a singular opportunity with the Internet of Things.

We have these unique sets of assets that manage different spectrums. While Vertica went after the device of things, all the machine generated information -- there is tons of it -- we also have IDOL which can tackled all kinds of human data, in particular knowledge-based industries where there is huge amount of human information like the pharmaceutical industry, or the medical industry.

For the first time ever we are bringing them together under a single skin so that people don’t have to distinguish between different technologies for different sets of information. Both platforms become aligned and this is the first time that this has happened," claimed Joiner.

With it, Joiner said, HP now has a unique selling point that others will find difficult to match. HP, he continued, can solve enterprise big data problems at a software level, do it at a reduced cost, and do it in a way that is flexible, agile and covers all the bases including hardware.

In the past, we used to classically sell to the CIO. With the new alignment we can sell right across the board and across the enterprise directly to the people that are buying for particular departments, or for specific tasks."

The Marketing Example

As head of the new marketing optimization division, it's only natural that Joiner would single out marketing as a particular example of how this will work.

The new assets, including the big data capabilities, will let marketers operate in a way that they've previously been unable. They will be able to scale up and down as required and marketers can also work in whatever channel they want.

In the past customer engagement was like a bowling alley. You picked the way you were going to communicate -- say the web, or mobile, or mail then you roll your ball and try hit as many pins as possible.

Its really like pinball now, though. Now, you can call someone, research them on the web, and engage through email, social or mobile. Companies that are trying to break through this noise, trying to engage with customers, or ensure their experience is working are finding it difficult. That is until now," boasted Joiner. 

Whether this new strategy pays off or not remains to be seen, but it's only the start of what Joiner said will be a wider and more targeted game-play for HP in the information management space.

It effectively pulls together all the different elements that HP has been building and investing in over the past two years, as well as pursues Meg Whitman’s vision of an HP turn around based on homemade innovations and established technologies. Interesting times ahead for HP Software.

Title image by Everett Collection (Shutterstock)