Marketing consultants, CIOs and cost-cutting in the Hurd-HP scandal

Posted: August 9, 2010 in CIOs, Customer loyalty, customers/buyers, marketing
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previous Mark Hurd was forced to quit Hewlett-Packard after an inq... Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

As if the term “marketing consultant” wasn’t already a lightning rod for boardroom skeptics…

Seems that Jodie Fisher, the actress-cum-realtor-cum-HP consultant, brokered high-level connections between  HP XOs and customer CIOs at corporate gatherings. And received good days’ pay for good, however short, days’ work. So much for cost-cutting.  It strikes this observer as odd in other ways, however.  And making it all the more curious and mysterious were the private reactions and observations shared with me over the weekend in Palo Alto.  Some very prominent IT industry people, including a noteworthy HP competitor, confided that while they were surprised by the circumstances, they were not at all shocked by the swift departure — read: lack of support — shown for Mark Hurd.   This may strike outsiders as strange, in light of the way shareholders have been so richly rewarded during Hurd’s tenure.  OK, so he wasn’t Steve Jobs when it came to the vision thing.  But a 136% stock price jump in a lousy market wasn’t too bad.  And what if he was known as a ruthless cost-cutter?  Certainly, there are worse images for CEOs.

HP partners have a different take. The customer experience was suffering, they say.  The cost-cutting had gone too far.  Buyers were reduced to doing their own fixes, for example. As for now?  Expect low clouds and fog along the Halls of Bill and Dave, at least from the outside looking in.  And whither Ms. Fisher?  Will she leverage her CIO meet-and-greet credentials elsewhere?  One thing is clear: outside of HP’s CIO shmooze-fests, she no longer owns a low profile.  Maybe it’s exactly what this particular Fisher was angling for all along.

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