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A Tech Postcard from Las Vegas: HP Discover 2014 – celebrating 75 years of HP




In June I attended and presented at HP Discover in Las Vegas. It was three jam-packed days of events centered on the New Style of IT. One of the highlights for me was recognizing the 75th anniversary of HP and learning about the iconic HP Garage that is considered to be the birthplace of Silicon Valley. It was back in 1939, when Bill Hewett and Dave Packard started their business with an investment of $538. The name HP was decided by a coin toss, and had the outcome of the coin toss gone the other way I’d currently be working for “PH”. It made me realize that every great idea — in HP’s case it was an improvement in the audio oscillator — requires funding to get traction. Securing funding is the catalyst that takes an idea to fruition.


If you have an idea, strategy or solution to take to the next level then consider the following 5 steps to secure funding:


1. Connect to the corporate strategy. Tie directly to the business drivers by determining how the solution will improve processes, customer satisfaction or brand image. Identify the financial value for the business as a whole by demonstrating how the solution will increase shareholder value by either increasing revenue or decreasing costs. Leverage benchmarking to show the business how your IT organization compares against top performers in the industry, and how this initiative can improve how you stack up against the competition. HP’s advantage was that it was able to produce a better oscillator at a cost considerably less than the competitive equipment.


2. Understand the capital preference. Is the business typically Capex or Opex-centric? Does the organization typically own and build, or does it lease and outsource? Consider the overall investment strategy for the business. While the total cost of ownership is important, the way in which it is financed can be just as important, if not more so, over the long run. Bill and Dave understood this early on, and for customers as well as HP: As HP grew, HPFS (HP Financial Services) was created to provide clients options in funding investments.


3. Provide options. Don’t take the one-size-fits-all or the all-or-nothing approach. Providing options shows that you’ve done your homework, are flexible in approach and can offer alternative paths to reach the end-state. The HP oscillator 200B was the result of modifications of the original 200A, which was requested by Disney, HP’s first client.


4. Quantify the value. Whether it be in financial value or other metrics, explain what the IT Initiative means in terms the business understands. A financial and business justification is typically required for approval of major investments. For example, to quantify the value of HP’s Moonshoot servers, you could point out that they use 89% less energy, take up 80% less space and cost 77% less than traditional servers.


5. Approach and Timing. Identify and incorporate feedback from key stakeholders in the business. Addressing their concerns and taking their suggestions can show that you have the support of others and will add to the credibility of the case. Finally, be sure to keep budget cycles in mind when proposing the timing of investment, allocate time and materials to keep the forward momentum.


Every great idea, whether it be created in a garage like HP or a conference room at your own organization, requires funding in order to get off the ground. For more details, see my presentation: 5 steps to secure funding for your IT initiative.


If you missed HP Discover not to worry – click here to download extras from HP Discover Las Vegas including whitepapers, briefs, session presentations and more.


Laura Cunningham is a CPA and business consultant with HP Technology Consulting. She helps CIOs and their team bridge the gap between what the CIO wants and what the CFO requires by building a comprehensive business case that can withstand financial scrutiny.

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