Tuesday, 23 November 2010

No more hiding, yet hidden


Several months ago, Hewlett-Packard announced its partnership with Bletchley Park for its WWII archives digitization.

For those readers who might not be familiar to the name, Bletchley Park is the site where the main activities by the Intelligence Services took place in order to decipher and break German codes.

According to Sir Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister during the war, Bletchley Park was the British Secret Weapon that allowed them to win the war. In fact they succeeded in breaking the German Code used by the famous Enigma machines, and ever since, German communications were transparent to the Allies despite having had the most technologically advanced cipher system. By the way, Germans never learnt before they surrendered their code had been broken, so sure they were about it.

LeĆ³ Apotheker is proving certainly some special skills which we find uncommon in a standard CEO. Not only he has smartly avoided any distraction related to the SAP-Oracle trial that is in its final stages, but as well shows some genuine sense of humour.

Furthermore, we think we have detected some additional skill. If we read carefully the press note in the previous link, we notice that just after the humoristic comment about actually being in Palo Alto during the conference call with analysts where HP posted latest financial results, he made a reference to Oracle’s attempt to distract him calling the latter “a competitor”.

Many journalists and online media have taken Oracle’s acquisition of Sun a sort of war declaration to HP, as Oracle had never been before in the hardware business. HP has claimed always Oracle as a partner, even after Mark Hurd’s “defection” in late summer 2010 to Oracle.

But we believe the term “competitor” was not really used just by chance. As the humoristic remark by Apotheker was catching the audience’s attention, he discreetly was sending a warning: Calling Oracle “a competitor” without mentioning directly its name was a way, in our opinion, to accept the war declaration from Oracle. Something like “Hi there, Larry! If you are looking for war, you got it.”

As a matter of fact, there are some facts that might support this thesis:

1. Out from the strategy hints Herr Apotheker offered, it seems clear his intention of boost R&D and software within HP. If this is not targeting Oracle, we guess nothing would. As Oracle got Sun, HP steps into software. If Oracle shows its teeth, HP does the same thing.

2. If HP confirms its dumping of Siebel (part of Oracle) and switches to Salesforce for CRM, this would be a clear war act.

We do not really know how close Herr Apotheker is to HP’s projects with Bletchley Park, but certainly he, on top of other skills, seems to be showing some expertise in coded messages.

Unnecessary oracles


Long time ago, in the times of Ancient Greece, people consulted oracles to foresee the consequences of their acts, to know somehow the future in advance, and based many of their decisions upon the priest’s or priestess’ response to their queries.

It was the case of Croesos, King of Lydia, who asked the oracle at Delphi what would the outcome be should he attack the Persian Empire. The priestess at the oracle cryptically replied that if Croesos attacked the Persians, one mighty empire would be destroyed. Croesos, thinking she meant the Persians, certainly attacked. No wonder he thought that way: In anticipation to his question, he sent lavish presents to the oracle. The problem for Croesos was that the priestess was thinking of Lydia…

At that time, oracles were consulted even when answers were obvious. People believed the priests were in contact with the gods, and, no matter how obvious an answer could be, still they consulted the oracles, and donated huge treasures to get favorable responses.

Today, we would say oracles are not needed when consequences are obvious. Even if the priests still think they are so close to the gods that they are gods themselves.

And we believe Herr Apotheker, the missing pharmacist, probably thinks the same way