Fiorina works on 'adaptive enterprise' mantra

Hewlett Packard's CEO attempts to apply some polish to her company?s adaptive enterprise concept, but she continues to stop short of offering a detailed definition of what it means.

Matt Hines Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Matt Hines
covers business software, with a particular focus on enterprise applications.
Matt Hines
2 min read
Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina attempted to apply some polish to her company?s adaptive enterprise concept on Tuesday, but she continued to stop short of offering a detailed definition of what the idea truly means.

Speaking to attendees at Forrester Research?s ongoing Executive Strategy Forum in Boston, Fiorina called adaptive enterprise a business strategy built on ?Darwinian reference architectures? with an emphasis on changing technology processes in the name of corporate survival.

Despite efforts to tie the idea into Forrester?s event theme of ?extended Internet,? or bringing new Web-based technologies to bear on business, Fiorina did little to solidify the blurry nature of the concept HP is using as its war cry.

"Adaptive enterprise is the state in which fundamental technologies in the enterprise enable anything that business wants to do," Fiorina said. "It's about business decisions being supported in real-time by IT processes."

As an example, Fiorina offered up HP's own approach to working with parts suppliers. By simplifying its supply chain processes, the company said it has been able to reduce its timeframe for adding new partners from five days down to two hours. In doing so, HP said it followed four primary tenets in shifting business processes: simplify, standardize, modularize and integrate. The executive offered few concrete examples of how HP achieved those goals.

"Without simplification, you can't adapt," she said. "Most organizations are too complex and have built loads of technology, which drives cost and inflexibility."

Fiorina estimated that most companies are currently using only 30 percent of their information technology capacity. She said that by adopting strategies such as adaptive enterprise, along with building smarter, better-connected systems, that rate could improve dramatically.

Looking forward, she said she expects the IT economy to improve, but she indicated that it would not happen overnight, and not without continued industry consolidation. Fiorina said she expects IT markets to grow twice as fast as the U.S. gross domestic product, and admitted that HP's biggest weakness remains its inability to capitalize on all the different business lines it currently operates.

"I think our portfolio is tuned to new opportunities. In the past they operated more as separate business units," said Fiorina. "Our challenge is to pull the portfolio closer together."