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HP looking to close ranks at Discover 2012 event

HP looking to close ranks at Discover 2012 event

Look for an emphasis on the company's core strengths

HP's leadership and customer base will gather in Las Vegas next week for an event calculated to reassure -- but also to impress.

MORE ON HP: New data center technology goes easy on the grid

Alongside more traditional keynote speakers at Discover 2012, like new CEO Meg Whitman, the company will feature DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg -- and the event will be emceed by Kunal Nayyar, a regular on CBS's "The Big Bang Theory."

Katzenberg -- a fixture at major tech conferences -- is scheduled to share the stage with Whitman on Tuesday morning, showing off his studio's use of HP products. A prescreening of DreamWorks' latest animated film, "Madagascar 3," will also be held at Discover, and if that's not enough entertainment, attendees can check out a performance by Sheryl Crow at the closing ceremony.

However, according to IDC lead analyst Crawford Del Prete, the central purpose of Discover will be a serious one. What's needed, he says, is an emphasis on the company's core strengths.

"I think that they're going to use HP Discover to underscore those big trends that touch all customers that are infrastructure-related: the cloud, analytics and big data, and security," he says.

While the recent announcement of large-scale job cuts probably won't dramatically affect the subject matter under discussion at Discover, according to the analyst, it could certainly have an effect on the tone of the event.

If HP's fortunes were less troubled, according to the analyst, attendees might have seen a different focus from the company.

"It probably would have been a little bit more product-focused, whereas I think now it's going to be more [about] strategy, and reinforcing the strategic messaging around stability [and] predictability," Del Prete says. "Had they not gone through the turmoil they went through in the last year, they would have been able to, I think, talk more about long-term innovation and long-term investment areas."

Even with the company's problems, Mark Fabbi, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst, says that HP is likely to make some business-as-usual announcements at the show.

"I expect to see some success stories, and other illustrations that HP is 'still in the game,'" he says.

Fabbi also says that the degree of HP's weakness shouldn't be exaggerated. "It's easy to get distracted by the corporate soap opera, but despite this many product areas are still doing reasonably well," he says.

Discover kicks off Monday, June 4, at the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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