Will HP and EDS make for a culture clash?

Similar to my friend Mark Goldberg and his nostalgic comments on his blog about the announcement the HP purchase of EDS, it made me think of the transformation of the technology industry. It also make me also look forward with our shift in priorities of the IT Millennium generation professionals coming up the ranks, and what will be the importance of culture in their ongoing career choices.

The HP (NASDAQ: HPQ) press release stated that “The combination of HP and EDS will create a leading force in global IT services,” said Mark Hurd. “Together, we will be a stronger business partner, delivering customers the broadest, most competitive portfolio of products and services in the industry. This reinforces our commitment to help customers manage and transform their technology to achieve better results.”

As some of you know that have grown up with me in the IT/telecom industry, I had the fortune of working for both HP and ED in the past. First I was with HP as part of their internal IT network department in the early ‘90s, and then moved over to their network professional services, where I got the consulting bug helping clients design and deploy global data and voice networks.

Culture Differences between HP and EDS

During my HP tenure, I once had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Packard personally during a corporate BBQ, where he was in fact cooking hamburgers for his employees, (excellent burgers as I recall!). I had the opportunity to briefly chat with him about the history of the company, and his belief in “The HP Way”.

This experience had a profound effect on me and is still remembered as one of my most rewarding evenings in my career.

Mr. Packard helped me understand the HP philosophy of quality, innovation and commitment to both customers and staff; which I strive to embody of how we try to operate Fox Group.

I left HP in 1995 and moved to EDS (NYSE: EDS) in a network consulting/business development role to help them develop business beyond GM and its affiliates. While there I had the opportunity to work with some amazing technology professionals as they designed, developed and managed complex IT/data solutions for a broad range of global government and multi-national companies.

The skill sets, commitment to technology excellence and creativity were very similar to that of HP but the EDS culture was still very conservative with dark suits, white shirts and even defined length of skirts for us a female staff and I found it almost military like. The EDS culture was, in fact, in direct contrast to the creative, innovative solutions that they developed for their clients.

What does this have to do with the future of HP?

Professional service is a business geared on leveraging human capital, insight, expertise and experience to develop and manage technology solutions on behalf of clients.

Putting together these two companies with their very different cultures will be interesting to observe; particularly when you factor in the millennium generation and their focus on ‘me’ versus ‘the corporation’.

Our prediction from the Fox Group team is that the future success of the new HP/EDS acquisition will depend on their ability to bring together the best of both corporations and melding them together with the changing values and cultures of future ICT professionals.

We wish them success, and will also be watching to see what the effect of this merger will have on IBM from a competitive perspective.

I hope you have found our thoughts of value, educational, enlightening or at least humorous, and feel free me at Roberta J. Fox at Roberta.Fox@FOXGROUP.ca or 905.473.3369 x 1001 to discuss further.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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