《经济学人》:惠普的远见 效仿IBM
日期:2011-08-29 11:24

(单词翻译:单击)

HP’s grand vision
惠普的远见

Aping IBM
效仿IBM

HP needs to transform itself if it is to avoid becoming obsolete
要想不被淘汰,惠普需要改变自己

Aug 27th 2011 | from the print edition

WHEN the board of HP, the world’s largest computer-maker, unveiled plans to restructure, it expected the company’s shares to suffer; but not to crash by 20%. HP’s bosses thought investors would love their plan to spin off the firm’s low-margin personal-computer (PC) business, but be wary of their plan to buy Autonomy, a British software-maker, for a handsome $10.3 billion. In fact, they hated both ideas. On August 19th, the day after the announcement, they wiped $12 billion off HP’s market value.

惠普这个世界上最大的电脑制造商,在其董事会公布重组计划时,就曾预料其股价将会下跌,但没想到会跌20%。惠普老板本以为,他们准备放弃营利较低的个人电脑业务的计划,会得到投资者的支持;但对于以天价收购英国软件公司Autonomy的计划,投资者会表示出担忧。事实上,投资者对这两项计划都不买账。8月19日,就在他们发出声明的第二天,惠普的市值便狂跌了112亿美元。

One problem was that the announcement left unclear what HP wanted to do with its PC unit and why exactly it intends to pay so much for Autonomy. Another factor was that many of the firm’s shareholders are short-termists, who were scared away by lowered revenue and profit forecasts. But the big problem is that Léo Apotheker, HP’s newish boss, is taking a huge gamble. He is trying to follow the example of IBM, by reducing HP’s dependence on hardware and pushing up into software and services.

一个问题是,在声明中,惠普对于如何处理其个人电脑业务问题,态度不明朗;对于计划高价收购Autonomy的理由,也没能说得清楚。另一个因素是,很多股东看重的是短期利益,惠普的营业额和利润数预测数双双减少,吓跑了不少投资者。但最大的问题是,惠普上任不久的总裁里奥•阿普赛克所冒的风险实在有点大,他试图效仿IBM,降低惠普对计算机硬件的依赖,转而主攻计算机软件和服务。

To grasp what HP has in mind, one has to understand the two main currents in the IT industry. First, nearly any new technology quickly becomes a commodity that is easily copied and hence not very profitable. This is why IT firms are always trying to move “up the stack” into software and services, where margins are higher. Second, the biggest IT firms typically control what is known as a “platform”: a digital foundation on which others build their products, such as Microsoft’s Windows. This allows them to capture a disproportionate share of the industry’s profits.

要想了解惠普的意图,必须先要弄清IT行业的两个主要趋势。第一,几乎所有快速被商品化的新技术都很容易被对手模仿,因此利润不多。这也是IT公司总是想着要上移堆栈,进入营利较高的计算机软件和服务领域的原因。第二,所谓的计算机平台往往由最大的IT公司独自控制,“平台”是其他公司产品的电子基础,微软视窗就是一个例子。这些大公司因此能够获得行业利润的较大份额。

HP seems to have ignored both currents, at least in the past decade. Carly Fiorina, its boss from 1999 to 2005, merged with Compaq, another computer-maker, in a deal worth $25 billion. Mark Hurd, her successor, cut costs but was ousted in 2010 after a dust-up over sex and expenses before he could fix the firm’s strategy.

惠普对两种趋势均重视不够,至少过去10年是这样。卡莉•菲奥利那在1999-2005年间担任惠普总裁,她曾以250亿美元的价格合并了另一家电脑制造商康柏。她的继任者马克•赫德对成本进行了削减,但他在2010年因性丑闻和虚报费用等事被免职,也未能对公司战略进行及时调整。

That job now falls to Mr Apotheker. The firm’s PC business is the world’s biggest, but is not as profitable as HP’s other units. What is more, most buyers of HP’s machines are consumers, whose demands shift faster and more whimsically than those of corporate customers. So HP intends to turn its PC business into a separate unit and then spin it off.

这项重任现在落在了阿普赛克先生的肩上。惠普公司的个人电脑销售业务全球第一,但营利却不如其他业务高。另外,大多数惠普产品的购买者是个人消费者,与公司客户相比,他们对产品的需求变化多端,难以把握。因此,惠普希望把他们的个人电脑业务先独立出来,然后再从惠普公司逐步分离出去。

Buying Autonomy also helps HP to move onto higher-margin terrain: the British firm’s operating margins exceed 40%. But the main reason HP paid a 64% premium for its shares seems to be that it believes that Autonomy’s technology could be turned into a platform to help companies make sense of their ever-growing pile of data. This includes not only “structured” data (payroll records, sales figures), but also the “unstructured” kind (documents, e-mails), which now makes up more than 80% of the information that flows through a typical company.

购买Autonomy也可以帮助惠普跨入营利高地,这家英国公司的经营利润率超过40%。但惠普愿以高出市价64%的价格购买其股份,似乎是因为,它们相信Autonomy的技术能够成为一个平台,以帮助各企业处理他们日益膨胀的数据库。这不仅包括结构化的数据(工资记录,销售数字),也包括非结构化的数据(文件、电子邮件),现在这些数据已占到公司信息流总量的80%还要多。

Such a platform would allow firms to do some nifty things. A retailer, for instance, might decide how much beer to stock based not just on previous sales records, but also on weather forecasts, party chatter on social media and schedules for sports matches.

这样一个平台能让公司更加出色地完成想做的事,比如一个零售商,在决定啤酒的库存量时,可能不仅要参照它的前期记录,也要考虑未来的天气情况、社会传媒的聚会谈话以及体育比赛的日程安排。

All this sounds sensible. But establishing a new platform and ultimately becoming a firm that looks much like IBM is a tall order. Many other firms are also jostling to become the main interpreter of corporate data. To reach its goal of having software generate 8-9% of its revenues by 2015, up from less than 3% today, HP will probably have to make further acquisitions. And its services business is mainly about keeping IT systems running, not about helping firms reinvent themselves (as IBM does).

这些说起来简单,但要建立一个新的平台并最终成为一家类似IBM的公司并不容易。许多IT公司在企业数据处理方面展开了竞争。为了将其软件收入由现在的3%提高到2015年的8-9%,惠普也许还要收购更多的公司。另外,惠普的服务业务主要是保持IT系统的运行,而不是(像IBM那样)帮助公司完成自我再造。

Given the difficulties, it is not surprising that many shareholders have bolted. But HP and its new boss should not be faulted for trying. They have little alternative, if they wish to avoid becoming a collection of commodity businesses. “Technology is a brutal business,” says Mr Apotheker. “If you don’t innovate and reinvent yourself, you will become obsolete.”

困难如此之多,许多投资者溜之大吉也就不足为怪。但惠普及其新总裁这样努力并没有过错。要想不再成为一个计算机商品大卖场,他们别无选择。阿普赛克先生表示:“技术行业竞争非常残酷,如果你不创新,不能完成自我再造,就只能被淘汰。”

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重点单词
  • brutaladj. 野蛮的,残暴的
  • obsoleteadj. 已废弃的,过时的
  • alternativeadj. 两者择一的; 供选择的; 非主流的 n. 替换
  • capturevt. 捕获,俘获,夺取,占领,迷住,(用照片等)留存
  • gamblev. 赌博,投机,孤注一掷 n. 赌博,冒险
  • waryadj. 小心的,机警的
  • separaten. 分开,抽印本 adj. 分开的,各自的,单独的 v
  • stockn. 存货,储备; 树干; 血统; 股份; 家畜 adj
  • factorn. 因素,因子 vt. 把 ... 因素包括进去 vi
  • boltedadj. 用螺栓固定的 动词bolt的过去式和过去分词