HP CEO Meg Whitman pledges dramatic boost in R&D

HP’s CEO and president Meg Whitman has announced a commitment to boosting investment in research and development (R&D), declaring that innovation at the company was “alive and well”.

The hardware giant, which holds more than 36,000 patents, spent $3.2 billion (£1.98 billion) on R&D in 2011, up from $2.96 billion the previous year.

“One of my objectives is to increase that [R&D investment] dramatically over the next few years,” Whitman told the HP Software Universe conference in London today.

“We are bringing this research to market a lot faster than in the past. We don’t market it very well [but] innovation is alive and well at HP.”

Whitman, former CEO at eBay, took over from Leo Apotheker as head of HP around eight months ago.

In her keynote speech, she acknowledged the company’s recent difficulties, from its multiple CEO changes to “turmoil in the boardroom”.

Despite this, she said: “I have fallen in love with HP.”

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She echoed a recent promise made by Mark Hurd, former HP CEO and now co-president of Oracle, saying that HP was simplifying its operations and portfolios to make it easier for customers to do business with the company.

More specifically, Whitman said that HP would be focusing on three areas – what she referred to as “three corporate bets” – namely, cloud computing, security and information optimisation.

“We are already a leader in cloud,” she said. “The HP cloud is leading in private cloud with nearly 600 customers implementations. Our enterprise managed service business operates nearly 200 private clouds.”

Whitman said that HP would focus on delivering security products that not only monitor the perimeter “like a security camera” but also provide insight on the source of threats.

Furthermore, she acknowledged the roles of Autonomy and Vertica, the data analytics firms HP bought last year to develop its information optimisation division, in helping customers get more insight from their big data.

“CEOs want meaning out of this data, to see entirely new insights into their business,” said Whitman.