It is always highly entertaining to watch the dynamics between IBM, HP and Oracle. They are visibly increasing their pressure on each other. IBM Chairman Sam Palmisano recently came out aggressively against HP’s leadership and vision, Oracle hired Mark Hurd, and HP hired Leo Apotheker amongst other moves. Of course, Oracle and IBM always have a high degree of “creative” tension in their relationship.
In my opinion, the contrast of the level of respect that IBM has for Oracle and HP is critical. It differs considerably. It is my belief that IBM genuinely fears and respects the actual and potential ability of Oracle to be disruptive to their market control and position. This is due to the aggressive nature of the Oracle sales teams and direct competition from Oracle across an increasing number of products.
By stark contrast, it is clear that IBM does not deeply fear HP as a strategic corporate competitor. Whist this is a strong call, for better or worse, I believe that IBM basically views HP in contempt with a few limited exceptions, Channels and Customer Satisfaction are perhaps the two key ones.
How does HP turn this around and get IBM to fear them? Sales force aggression and strength head to head with IBM is a critical success factor. HP needs to study the Oracle sales model. Not all aspects will work for HP, but it is an aggressive and very successful model. More Oracle sales force members own Porsches than any other vendor sales team that I have seen (assuming high end cars are a measure of success, in reality they are for an IT sales team). HP needs to do a better job to know their product, link the product to the business and take on the “hard: and transformational engagements that from a services perspective tend to be dominated by IBM and Accenture.
If they can enhance their already strong base with a more aggressive and successful sales capability, then that will lead to an increased likelihood of IBM fearing them and the Apotheker leadership being successful from a competitive and financial point of view.