The Pros and Cons of Fully Remote Employees

MAY 25, 2016 • Blog Post • BY ATLANTIC RE:THINK

IN THIS ARTICLE

  • Exec who separated HP’s IT systems explains how the cloud enables large corporations to operate like small businesses

HPE expert shares how the cloud has revolutionized the way companies are created

Mahesh Shah is vice president and general manager of HPE’s Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures Technology Services business. He was a mastermind of the recent split of HP’s IT systems—an enormous undertaking with complexities not unlike those of a NASA space launch that was, by all accounts, managed seamlessly. In this conversation, Mahesh reflects on the experience gained during HP’s separation as well as the ever-increasing facility, and effectiveness, of cloud technology. He sees how huge companies like Hewlett Packard Enterprise can respond nimbly, quite like small companies, in the new technological age. He envisions how the technological path we’re on might continue to change the world.

What was it like taking HP through that separation? What did you learn in terms of what was expected and what was surprising?

A good analogy is splitting your house into two pieces. If you were to undertake this project, you would realize that there are a lot of things in that house that helps it operate as efficiently as possible within a single building. You’ve only got one kitchen. You’ve only got one master bedroom. When you separate, you realize that there are certain things that were constructed and built out to be very, very efficient in one entity. The same is true for a company. When you split or separate, you start realizing that there’s a whole lot that you did to make it efficient in the first place. What we call “dis-synergies” are created.

With the separation complete, two new houses have been built. They’ve got their own zip codes. They’ve got their own mailing addresses. Everything’s operating pretty efficiently. For all intents and purposes, we are operating completely as two separate companies now. Two different stock tickers. Two different leadership teams. Two different CEOs. Two different everything.

Why are big companies seeming to engage in “splitting” on a more regular basis right now?

Companies are reconfiguring their assets to be as effective as they can be in specific markets. Reconfiguring could be because you’ve become too big in certain areas and you’re not focused enough. A lot of tech companies are seeing this, and so they’re separating to be more targeted in terms of what they go after and who they go after.

  • Technology has made it easier to start reconfiguring your assets to be as effective as possible.

How is technology enabling these bigger companies to go smaller? Is it a whole new workforce of people who understand the technology? Is it simply the speed of the technology?

There are many facets to it, but I would say one big one is the capabilities that we now have with cloud—capabilities for both applications and compute. If you think about it, the reason is that more and more of the technological capabilities of firms reside outside the four walls of that company. They sit within a Hewlett Packard Enterprise or some other third-party firm. These applications are sitting out on the cloud. When the company decides to make some changes, it’s easier to reconfigure those capabilities for everyone who will use them. When it’s all sitting within their environment—their four walls—it’s a lot more effort to add and reconnect things.

The good thing with cloud capabilities is clouds are intended to operate as something you can turn on and off, reconfigure and shift as needed. They’re built for flexibility.

Where did the cloud technology—the cloud knowledge—come from? From big companies or from small companies?

That’s a good question. I’m not sure where it started. I would say that smaller companies have certainly taken significant advantage of it. In fact, it has enabled new companies to come to market. It has decreased barriers for new companies to be able to start and grow because they don’t need to make as huge an investment in all the technology they might need—the capital costs and everything that they need to put into building out the fabric of their operations. Now they can just go to a website, sign on to certain things, get their accounting stuff going, get their HR stuff going and it’s in a subscription month by month. If their business doesn’t do well, they can shut it off, so they don’t have to make huge cash outlays for things to happen.

On the compute side of things, the big players still control the majority of that market, but the smaller companies are taking advantage of it. I have a colleague who decided to start his own company. To get email running, he just had to sign up on online, spending, I think, something like $9 a month. He got his financial software running for about the same price. He got several compute containers, which he needed in order to build certain applications, for about the same price.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is clearly focused on this trend. Is it on the tip of the spear in what it’s trying to do with these new technologies: new speeds, smaller sizes?

I would say Hewlett Packard decided to split in order for each new company to become a lot more focused on its target markets. That was one of the reasons.

I certainly think we’re very well positioned to continue to grow, and we’ve put in a lot of investment over the last few years. I think if you look at almost every product set that we have, it’s got some slant to drive things toward cloud and help the customers with it as well.

As we wrap up, tell us your predictions for the future. There’s an obvious direction for the cloud-based universe and we know where we’re going as far as continuous gains in speed and utility. Is this the “near term”? And in the long term, are these splits going to continue? How will business stay nimble?

This is my view, and I’m actually passionate about this. I believe that over time (although it’s unclear what the exact timespan will be) the barriers that prevent a company from reconfiguring their assets will continue to decrease, leading to more economic surplus globally. If businesses can reconfigure more easily, in theory, more business is generated, which typically leads to jobs, which typically leads to some kind of economic benefit for that nation. This is what I expect we’ll start seeing more and more of.

  • Companies that can easily reconfigure their assets will be able to generate more business.

Over time, I think you’re going to see companies that are able to add and take away and optimize as best they can. It won’t take away from people sometimes making the wrong choices, of course. Not every acquisition or divestiture is the right thing.

Just as a follow up on that, do you think governments will start to look more toward businesses like HPE for help in how to make their own choices and better their own societies? Could there be more government-to-industry crossover whereby society beyond the corporate sphere profits?

Instead of using the word “profits,” I would say “benefits” is more appropriate.

“Benefits” means many different things. You’re already starting to see governments reach out to the private sector on things like cybersecurity. You’re already starting to see the government reach out to the private sector on how to modernize their technology.

Yes, I do think you’ll see that, because, going back to where we started, in the technology world at least, sometimes being focused and smaller is an advantage. You’re learning things much faster and larger entities, including governments and larger corporations and others, can benefit from some of these things as they start picking up on what’s happening.

Technology is already revolutionizing governments and cities, but it can also revolutionize your business. Watch HPE’s webinar on designing high-density Wi-Fi to deliver 10 TB of data at 2016’s biggest football game and learn relevant lessons for your business.

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