Here is the video and a transcript of the interview between Martin Hellawell, MD of Softcat and Nick Wilson, MD of HP UK and Ireland in November 2011.
Martin Hellawell: Hi I’m Martin Hellawell Managing Director at Softcat and I’ve just bumped into this handsome young man in the corridor from HP, so who are you?
Nick Wilson: I’m Nick Wilson, I’m the Managing Director for the UK and Ireland and I’ve been here two years.
Martin Hellawell: Excellent. So you’ve just spent rather a lot of money on buying a company called Autonomy?
Nick Wilson: We have.
Martin Hellawell: Can you tell us what Autonomy is, what it does and why you bought them?
Nick Wilson: If you look at the market at the moment I think there’s a huge explosion on unstructured data. If you look at the market stats probably only 10% of data that companies or individuals use has been digitised. We think there is a huge, huge opportunity for the analysis and use of unstructured data and not just data but video, messaging, TV, social media etc. and analysing that unstructured data for the use of companies, governments or security organisations is a massive, massive opportunity and Autonomy is the world leader.
Martin Hellawell: Fantastic. So your PC business, interesting times! You’ve made some announcements a few months ago that you were looking to spin it off, or potentially sell it or review and then a few months later you decide to keep it, it feels like a communications home goal.
Nick Wilson: I certainly think we have confused the market a bit, that’s for sure. I think that’s undeniable but I think Meg and the team now have brought the decision to a conclusion really quickly. Personally I’m really pleased with the decision to keep it in the family. Before we made a decision we had to consider that it is the world’s largest leading PC Company by a country mile. Certainly in the UK we have 26% of the market share, as externally endorsed by market shares, which is six or seven points ahead of number two, so the decision to keep it is a really good one. I certainly think we confused the market a bit but I think we have recovered well from that. I think it’s gone a bit quieter now in the market, we are much, much stronger with it in the portfolio than without it and the whole stack sits really neatly and it is the world’s leading PC business.
Martin Hellawell: So, speaking of Meg your new chief exec, what are your first impressions?
Nick Wilson: I have to say I’ve met her twice now one to one and have been in the room for four or five sessions she’s done, physically in the room, as well as listening to some of the messages and I have to say I’m really, really, really impressed with her at this stage. I think what we needed was very clear communication, very clear cut messaging and delivery against the messaging so if we say we are going to do X we do X, if we say we are going to do Y we do Y. She’s been very clear, she talks to employees and senior managers exactly the same way, she’s a really, really, good communicator and she made very clear what her priorities were, so it was no secret that her first three priorities for her first early tenure were to close the Autonomy deal, make the PSG decision and make Q4, hit what we said to the analysts. So we closed the Autonomy deal, we made the PSG decision on time and we have just announced our Q4 results and what we said we would do we did. And then she made it very clear what her plan is going forward and as a leader and a communicator we are hugely impressed, clearly for me and our employees and a lot of our customers in the market it’s not just about one quarter and I think you know now what we need to do is deliver quarter after quarter after quarter.
Martin Hellawell: Excellent. And final question what’s exciting you out there at the moment in the market?
Nick Wilson: I actually think the UK market has a lot of opportunity at the moment, I know it’s really, really tough in certain areas. The Public Sector spending constraints are pretty tough and the economy is pretty tough but it does mean what you can bring if you have a really large portfolio like ourselves, a good channel partner network and lots of partners working with you, I think there are propositions you can put on the clients table which help save money, improve their business efficiency or help them look at new opportunities. Also combined with that what keeps me awake at night is keeping customers and employees happy, you know without customers we don’t get paid so keeping them happy is first and foremost and we are a highly people leverage business for our customers so making sure we communicate well with our staff, that they’ve got good career paths, that they know where they stand etc. it is really, really important.
Martin Hellawell: Which is exactly what Softcat's always been about so good to hear. Thank you.
Nick Wilson: Thank you!