This morning HP announced its plan to shed 10 percent of its employees from its cubicles around the world. Summertime has become the season for HP to do this housecleaning, a coarse word to describe one of the sharpest of events in someone's life: being laid off. A few years back in 2002 HP did this just at the cusp of an HP World conference, leaving professionals searching their voicemail for a notice they didn't need to worry about what was going undone back at their HP cubicles while they were away.
Of course, with the sudden demise of HP World, there's no chance that scenario will replay itself. HP gave its side of the story in a press release issued this morning. It's not been shy about this year's layoffs. The notice was on the front page of the HP Web site. Now, after Interex shut itself off yesterday, the 3000 market gets to see if this is the second straight day in which part of its ecosystem dies off.
The 14,500 HP layoffs are necessary to focus the company on its priorities, HP says. This sounds like an invitation to watch where the cuts take place. Enterprise Storage and Servers, the HP unit that creates HP's 3000 alternatives such as HP-UX and Windows servers, has been under pressure in the past few quarters to maintain a profit. HP insists this round of layoffs is not about profitability or shedding expenses, though. If its Enterprise unit sees a lot of layoffs, a customer might conclude that the printer, camera and home PC business is finally ruling the roost at the company.
How to find out where the cuts are landing? Send an e-mail to everyone in HP you know and trust. Watch to see how many get bounced this week. The answers will help you see if the planning for HP's 3000 end-game is going to get a boost or a jolt today.
There's been a lot of work done for the 3000 customer, in the form of promises and intentions and even HP plans, by people working in what's been called Virtual CSY (vCSY), the HP group caretaking the remains of its 3000 business. A round of layoffs that ripples through vCSY could wash out many of those intentions, or reinforce business decisions that can still make a difference to the 3000 customer.
Everybody's been speculating on the announcement this morning, which HP made before the stock market opened. But the advance betting by the market analysts doesn't give good odds for the HP Enterprise business to escape intact.
The San Jose Business Journal echoed a Standard and Poors report:
A Standard & Poors Equity Research Report anticipates layoffs will come in HP's enterprise systems division, where margins have been lower than in other divisions such as printing and imaging products.
But the New York Times has an article with a quote from an analyst that says this layoff season isn't about the bottom line. To echo that, HP's language in its release suggests that the company will be paring down its infrastructure:
The majority of staff reductions will come in support functions, such as information technology, human resources and finance. The remainder will be made inside business units, in areas where work can be reduced by improving processes and re-prioritizing existing tasks. To facilitate these reductions, HP will offer a voluntary retirement program to longer-serving staff based in the United States.
That voluntary retirement can be a way for your HP 3000 advocates who remain inside HP to step off the big corporation treadmill. A few years back one of the most prominent vCSY players in the Transition Era said he thought of his next career move more often. A job teaching math sounded pretty good some days, he said while a group of us waited in the hall for an HP World room to open up. Voluntary retirement is a way to make second-career dreams a reality. We've already lost some help this week in the Interex exit. Let's hope the 3000 helpers inside HP can hang on through the end of next year, to see plans and intentions become a reality.