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Robert Napier, CIO at Hewlett-Packard

Robert Napier, CIO at Hewlett-Packard

When Hewlett-Packard finally got to fork over its money for Compaq Computer last May, you wouldn't have expected anyone from Compaq to be running anything.

When Hewlett-Packard finally got to fork over its money for Compaq Computer last May, you wouldn't have expected anyone from Compaq to be running anything. That's the unwritten law of the business jungle: The dominant company gets all the positions of power in the new company. But Robert Napier, 55, former CIO of Compaq, is now senior vice-president of IT and CIO of the combined companies. He's a clear product of Compaq's brasher culture, and he worked for HP's CEO Carly Fiorina in an earlier life, which may help explain his emergence. But there's more to the new HP than meets the eye, as we discovered when CIO US Executive Editor Christopher Koch interviewed Napier in July. CIO: How is the merger going?

Robert Napier: It's going quite well. We had a lot of great day one successes: day one email systems on a global basis, one [website at] HP.com and -- I think this was extremely important -- one employee portal where all employees from either pre-merger company could get a consistent answer to most of their questions Hewlett-Packard CIO Robert Napier started planning for an integrated HP-Compaq eight months before the controversial merger gained approval. at a very trying time such as this when you put two companies this size together. [It took] huge network integration -- 39,000 network devices across 160 countries. In essence, we had an enormous day one success. It was a necessity for two high-tech companies.

The interesting thing that I'm not sure I would have thought about from a premerger standpoint -- but it's really come and smacked me upside the face post-merger -- was the enormous addition [the day one successes] made to employee morale. People said, You know this stuff can really work; this integration can really work. Right on their desktops they had proof point, and I remember I got all kinds of emails from folks in the first week, even some of my IT folks. A former Compaq person went into an HP plant in France, found a cube that wasn't occupied, plugged an Internet cable into the wall of that cube and, bingo, was attached to all of his former access in Compaq seamlessly. He didn't have to change anything on his laptop; all the scripts were handled behind the scenes. I think that was a big deal.

The merger was approved during May, but when did you actually start doing all this work so that it was ready on day one?

We started around Sept. 10th of 2001. I think we announced to the world on Sept. 4th, or something like that, and by the 10th we had a pretty comprehensive yet small team of IT infrastructure folks from both sides starting to map out what we needed to do.

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