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BtoB's Best Marketers: Martin Homlish, Hewlett-Packard Co.

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Hewlett-Packard Co. is searching for an identity, and Martin Homlish, who was named exec VP-CMO in April, will be one of the key players in defining that identity. HP announced in August that it plans to auction off its personal computer group, the former Compaq, which it acquired under Carly Fiorina in 2002. Also in August, HP said it plans to acquire software company Autonomy Group. With these changes, HP aims to emphasize higher-margin businesses, such as software and services. As HP attempts to move down this path, Homlish will be the one to communicate its new identity, both inside and outside the company. He is confident he's the right man for the job. “There are days when I'm here at HP and I actually think this job was perhaps designed for me,” he said. Homlish spent 15 years at Sony Corp. in the consumer electronics business, which gives him insight into HP's consumer-facing businesses. More recently, he spent 11 years at SAP, marketing information technology at the enterprise level. Now, his goal is to find a unifying story for HP to tell its many markets. “The challenge we face is that HP is strong in so many spaces and so many industries,” Homlish said. “I think the bigger challenge we have is that we present multiple HPs to the marketplace, which is a good thing if we're able to clearly articulate our purpose, our promise.” The divestment of the PC division may simplify the task of homing in on the company's purpose. Homlish said that being purpose-driven is more than just a marketing imperative. “It's not necessarily an idea I buy into for marketing,” he said. “It's an idea I buy into for humanity. It's very difficult to be motivated if you don't see you have a purpose.” As HP moves forward in its effort to remake itself, Homlish said his own task is clear. “We need to create a story that people truly understand—not just the purpose of the company, but what we do and why we do it. And that's my project."
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