**Editor's Note: Click here for Channel Partners' extensive coverage of HP Discover.**
HP DISCOVER — HP CEO Meg Whitman took center stage on Tuesday in Las Vegas at her company’s annual tech-fest for customers and business partners, proclaiming that HP aims to be the best tech partner on the planet.
The bold proclamation made here at HP Discover 2014 is a bit of a shot across the bow to Silicon Valley rival Cisco, which has said repeatedly that it aims to be the world’s “most important technology company."
With literally tens of billions of dollars at stake for these two tech companies and others, the competition is more than battle over mere words. Here in Las Vegas, Whitman and her lieutenants made the case over a two-and-a-half hour presentation as to why HP will one day reign supreme.
HP, which is celebrating its 75th year, kicked off Tuesday’s keynote session with a simple message: “Next is Now." The emphasis in immediacy was twofold: First, technology needs are evolving at an unprecedented rate, and, second, HP computing, networking and storage technologies are more ready to address these needs than those from any other technology vendor.
“We have the resources of a battleship with ability to zig and zag like a speedboat," Whitman said.
Before making the case as to why, the CEO paid homage to company founders Bill Hewlett and David Packard, whom she said were responsible not just for HP, but for the community and business philosophies that embody what “Silicon Valley" is today. Whitman then showed a montage of imagery of celebrated HP products throughout the years and even displayed an HP watch that she wore on her wrist, making a point to show the audience of several thousand attendees that it still worked.
Whitman then turned her presentation to the current state of HP. The company, which has 317,000 employees in more than 170 countries throughout the world, can’t rest on the past and needs to keep moving, she said. The company’s No. 1 challenge: working to solve problems and invent the future simultaneously.
After financial setbacks and more than a few mistakes, HP has done the hard things needed to take the lead, she said. (That includes increasing layoffs to as many as 50,000 in this latest round of restructuring.) Now the company is back on stable footing, she said, noting that its recent quarterly financial came in at the high end of analysts expectations. Among other things, HP, she said, has re-established ties to key constituencies, including employees, investors, partners and customers. HP has also taken steps to streamline costs and reduce bureaucracy. In addition to making the company more profitable, the changes will help the company innovate faster, she insisted.