Monday, June 1, 2009

HP Halo vs Cisco Telepresence

Once again, with a different rival this time, solid HP engineering and miniscule marketing weighs in against someone with almost reverse skillset. The HP Halo design has much to offer -- the eye gaze is really pretty good, even "cross-court", and the sound is inherently crisp and clear. Cisco Telepresence is terrible for "straight-ahead" discussions for people not sitting at the head; you are always looking at a side profile as the person intently gazes off over your shoulder.

For HP, the psychology of the users has been carefully thought through, and it shows, in minute detail after detail. For Cisco, "the wrong people" have been using the system more than was anticipated, but utilization is up, WAY UP. And they are awakening to the fact that "everyone" is thrilled to use there tools.

HP Halo marketing is akin to the old joke about HP trying to sell sushi, by marketing it as "cold, dead fish". Here, they market the travel cost savings, while the most significant gains are increased productivity, decreased mistakes at a distance, and better collaboration -- hardly mentioned in the standard materials.

Cisco on the other hand, has a proselyting CEO who loves this technology, one who uses it daily and speaks glowingly about it in forum after forum. In 135 weeks, they have installed 480 systems within the company for 40,000 employees; HP in almost two hundred weeks has managed only to install 80 in a company with 320,000 employees. Some might note that the cross-product is (320)/(40)*(480/80)*(200/135) = 72x more enthusiasm at Cisco than at HP

What's wrong with this picture (that $10,000,000 won't fix it)?

Joel commenting about the author

In response to another request, Joel Birnbaum filed some interesting words about the book, and about Chuck House, one of the two authors:

"When I came to HP as a rare outsider hired into a high position, many people advised me to look up Chuck as someone who really understood the soul of the company. He was famous in HP for his wit, his creativity, and his willingness to speak out against things that he thought short-sighted or self-serving. I found that he more than deserved his reputation

"When he noticed that much had been written about the history and influence of HP during the Hewlett and Packard era, and still more about Carly Fiorina and her successor, but almost nothing about the 20 odd years in-between, he decided that this transformative period (HP went from a test and measurement company to the world’s largest printer manufacturer and the second largest computer company in that period) needed to be documented accurately. His soon to be published book, for which I was interviewed extensively, is likely to find wide acceptance and is a marvel of careful research and writing.

"Chuck is a witty, daring and very effective speaker, and during our time together in HP he lent his name and his energy to many causes that resulted in dramatic improvements in the infrastructure and internal toolsets, not always with the prior approval of upper management. HP was eventually proud of these sometimes irreverent accomplishments, and many found their way into the literature and are in wide use in the industry today

"For all of his career, Chuck’s signature style has been his refusal to accept the status quo for purely historical reasons, and to think creatively and deeply about a problem or opportunity and then, often with recruited partners, to seek a novel solution.

"Chuck’s style, while often flamboyant to attract attention to his causes, is inherently a modest one