HP Labs says reorg paying off with new money-making technology

Mar 18, 2009 By Brandon Bailey

If Hewlett-Packard hadn't reorganized its research efforts a little more than a year ago, according to Prith Banerjee, director of the world-renowned HP Labs, people on the business side of the company might be asking some hard questions today.

But a year after the giant technology company announced it would align its "pure" research more closely with its priorities, Banerjee told reporters that the effort is paying off in both scientific results and business development.

Banerjee spoke at a media briefing a few days before plans to release its first annual report since the reorganization. An appendix to the report lists hundreds of scientific reports published by HP researchers, along with 23 lab projects that produced new technology that, in the past year, HP began using in its own products or licensing to other users.

Those include enhancements to HP's high-end videoconferencing equipment, a high-speed wireless memory chip and a cloud-based publishing service.

Lab officials described current research efforts in areas ranging from voice and to the use of lasers to transmit data between computers. They also described work that seems less "hard science," such as exploring and developing that might tailor a retail shopping experience to the customer's previously expressed preferences.

With about $118 billion in sales last year, HP says it spends about $3.5 billion a year on research and development. Most of that is development work carried out in the company's business divisions, with $150 million going into pure research at HP Labs.

While HP Labs is well known, several other tech companies operate pure research centers in , including , IBM, Microsoft and others.

Despite the recession, Banerjee said there has been no move to cut the budget at his labs, which employ about 500 researchers worldwide. He said HP views research as key to the company's future.

He acknowledged there were skeptics last year when the company announced a dramatic restructuring that reduced the number of lab projects, from about 150 to about 60 efforts aligned with key . The priorities include cloud computing, digital commercial printing, sustainability, business analytics and "immersive interaction," or how people might interact with computers through voice or gestures.

But Banerjee said the reorganization makes it harder to question whether the company can afford "pure research" during an economic slowdown.

Under the new structure, he said, researchers no longer embark on projects and then look for ways to use the results in the company's business. Instead, he said research proposals are reviewed in advance by lab officials and company executives.

Some researchers worried that the executives wouldn't appreciate their work, he acknowledged. But the business-side managers understood "it's OK to do this crazy wild work," he said, giving the example of advanced research in chemistry that could turn out to have valuable applications for the company's printing products.


(c) 2009, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).
Visit Mercury Center, the World Wide Web site of the Mercury News, at www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Explore further: Relativity's last-minute bid for Maker rebuffed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

HP Expands into IT Governance Space

May 12, 2007

When Hewlett-Packard bought Mercury Interactive for $4.5 billion in July 2006, company officials had their sights set squarely on the IT governance space.

HP Licenses Technology to Create Nanoscale Electronic Devices

May 02, 2007

HP today announced that it is beginning to reap returns from its 10-year investment in nanoscale electronics with the licensing of technology that could enable the fabrication of semiconductor chips significantly more powerful ...

HP to Acquire Online Photo Company

Mar 23, 2007

Hewlett-Packard's definitive agreement with Tabblo will soon allow users to print text, graphics, photos and other content from the Web.

HP Beefs Up Blade Services

May 11, 2007

Hewlett-Packard's so-called "proactive" services, which it will offer to customers directly and through its channel, are geared to users with 50 or more blades in the data center.

Computer sales not leading to profits

Jul 19, 2005

For computer manufacturers, the latest report confirming a surge in global demand for personal computers should have been heartening, but one of the biggest beneficiaries of the seemingly insatiable appetite worldwide for ...

Recommended for you

Yahoo sees signs of growth in 'core' (Update)

13 hours ago

Yahoo reported a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit Tuesday, results hailed by chief executive Marissa Mayer as showing growth in the Web giant's "core" business.

Twitter buys data analytics partner Gnip

16 hours ago

Twitter says it has bought its data partner Gnip, which provides analysis of the more than 500 million tweets its users share each day—to advertisers, academic institutions, politicians and other customers.

Zebra to spend $3.45B on Motorola business

21 hours ago

Zebra Technologies is spending more than $3 billion to buy the enterprise business of Motorola Solutions in a considerable expansion that is both technological and geographical.

Relativity's last-minute bid for Maker rebuffed

Apr 15, 2014

Relativity Media, a film financier and movie distributor, was rebuffed in a last-minute bid for Maker Studios, the YouTube video creator that had agreed to be bought by The Walt Disney Co. last month.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

ESO image: A study in scarlet

This new image from ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile reveals a cloud of hydrogen called Gum 41. In the middle of this little-known nebula, brilliant hot young stars are giving off energetic radiation that ...

First direct observations of excitons in motion achieved

A quasiparticle called an exciton—responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits—has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...