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Meg Whitman's keynote at HP Discover


What really stood out in the keynote session given by Meg Whitman this morning was the focus on the customer. “You’re the center of our universe … our people will do anything for you,” Whitman said, backing it up with stories about how HP has gone the extra mile for customers, including donning body armor in Afghaniststan to help the UK military set up and maintain its systems in a war zone.


We’re at a technology inflection point today, Whitman told the crowd, and hearkening back to her days as chief executive at eBay, she said the question is whether you will be a disruptor – or the disrupted.


To help ensure companies are in the former camp, Whitman outlined an HP strategy of 3 solutions – cloud, security, and information optimization – delivered over HP infrastructure, software and services.


To illustrate the deep relationships HP has with customers, Whitman brought out Jeffrey Katzenberg (CEO of DreamWorks Animation), who dazzled the crowd with scenes from Dreamworks animated films and offered a sneak preview of the studio’s latest film, Madagascar 3.


DreamWorks, to put it mildly, is what Katzenberg called a high-end user. The computing power required to make animated features is mind-boggling: easily half a billion digital files go into a film, which can take five years to make and comprise more than 3 billion iterations. Throughout the 12-year-relationship between the two companies, DreamWorks has kept requiring more, and HP has answered – whether it’s figuring out a solution to color infidelity in flat-panel monitors, to figuring out a way to reduce render time so that animators can work on characters in full resolution in real time. (The answer to that, in case you’re wondering, is scalable, multi-core processing - the technology underpinning DreamWorks' next big transformation.)


In a morning of highlights, one of the most memorable was a grainy clip Katzenberg showed of him some 18 years ago sharing the stage with a frisky lion named Pancho. Luckily, for Katzenberg, Pancho’s handlers were there to quickly get the lion on its best behavior again. Aside from its entertainment value, Katzenberg showed the clip to make the analogy that sometimes technology behaves like a lion – make sure you’ve got the right handlers to help you, making it clear that HP has tamed numerous lions for DreamWorks over the years.

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I have been a writer/editor in the technology field for several years.

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