Living Progress with HP’s Chris Librie

April 3, 2015

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good, and I’m so honored to have with us today Chris Librie. He’s the Senior Director of HP Living Progress. Welcome to Green is Good, Chris. CHRIS LIBRIE: Thanks, John. It’s great to be here. JOHN SHEGERIAN: This is HP’s second time on Green is Good, but this is the first time we’re going to be talking about Living Progress. For our listeners out there that want to learn more about the HP Living Progress program, you can go to hp.com/livingprogress. Chris, before we get talking about all the subtleties and nuances and important initiatives you’re doing at HP in the Living Progress program, I want you to share first your story, your journey leading up to HP and what you’ve done in the environment and sustainability, and what you are doing. I want you to share your background first with our listeners. CHRIS LIBRIE: Thanks. I’d be delighted. I’ve had a career that’s really spanned a few international companies, working mainly in marketing and general management roles until about seven years ago. I’d been involved in a couple of acquisitions at my previous company, SC Johnson, where sustainability issues were certainly material to the acquisition. That kind of got me interested in this field, and when the opportunity arose there to lead the sustainability strategy, it was one that I really wanted to take and move forward. At SC Johnson, the chance was to embed sustainability more fully in the organization. It was certainly a passion of the leadership of that company. Here at HP, we have already a tremendous embedded sustainability program in all of the different functional groups. The challenge is a little different. The challenge is to bring it to the fore and tell the story in a more compelling way and link it better with the overall company strategy. That’s what’s led to Living Progress, which is really something very exciting and something I’m looking forward to talking with you about. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I’m so excited you’re here today because there are so many great things I want to speak with you about. First of all, we’re living in the beginnings of time, really, with regards to not only the sustainability revolution, but still also I believe, Chris, the technological revolution. The funny part is if we’re at the top of the second inning of the sustainability revolution and still maybe the bottom of the second on the technology revolution, it can be posited that HP was at the beginning of all time, really, when it comes to Silicon Valley startups and the whole garage mentality of startups that sort of made Silicon Valley the iconic startup venture place in the world right now. It’s so exciting to have you on, talking about technology, sustainability, and a lot of other things. Can you share a little bit about the history of HP and sustainability, where the journey began, where you joined and where you want to take it with HP Living Progress? CHRIS LIBRIE: HP has a great history, as you know. In fact, 2015 is our 75th anniversary, so it’s really exciting for us to look back over the history of this great Silicon Valley startup, and remember that Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were leaders in recognizing the need for sustainability, not only in their company operations but in the world at large. Citizenship is the term that Bill and Dave applied to this work, and it’s been part of the HP strategy for decades. It was first formally called out as part of the overall corporate strategy in 1957, when Silicon Valley was probably more farms and fruit trees than the amazing startups and big companies that it is today. I know a lot of companies say this, but I think we can certainly lay a very strong claim to it being part of our DNA. I know I’ve heard our current CEO, Meg Whitman, say that many times. “This is founder DNA.” That’s a direct quote from her, and she takes it very seriously, not only as a leader and someone who’s engaged in sustainability, but as someone who recognizes the important history and background of this company. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I’m on your Living Progress website landing page right now. Again, for our listeners, it’s www.hp.com/livingprogress. First of all, it’s beautiful. Second of all, as you said, from left to right, it first starts with the message from Meg Whitman. Can you share with our listeners what HP Living Progress really means to you, Chris, and what you’re trying to achieve with it there? CHRIS LIBRIE: It’s really an integrated approach to looking at the triple bottom line. In our terms, that’s human progress, economic progress and environmental progress. We try to look at all three of those factors when we’re considering the products and services that we offer and how we operate as a company. If you want to think of it as kind of a matrix that way, it’s helpful to think of some of the initiatives the company has, the what we do, our products and services, and the how we do it, our global functions and the way we operate, those all integrate back to those three factors of human, economic and environmental progress. We try to find a balance between those in order to ensure that we’re creating a better future through our actions and innovations. That’s really the vision statement behind Living Progress. It’s really all about using our technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest problems. We have a number of examples of that in action, which we can get into during the course of this discussion. It’s a very integrated approach, not only across the triple bottom line, but also with the business. I think that’s what really distinguishes Living Progress as a sustainability platform. JOHN SHEGERIAN: One of the success stories I read about is in your HP Earth Insights report. It said, basically, this is a direct quote, “HP created a unique early warning system for threatened species using the power of big data solutions in collaboration with the non-profit Conservation International.” Chris, how do you choose where you’re going to have the greatest impact? Also, talk a little bit with our listeners about the importance of big data now, and how big data can help make a great difference with regards to what you’re trying to accomplish at Living Progress. CHRIS LIBRIE: That sounds like two questions in one. Let me see if I can decompartmentalize those. One of the things that we try to do, in addition to our products and services and the way we operate, is we create these collaborative programs. The CI program that you’re highlighting there is a great example of us sitting down. We wanted to create a program that would enable us to showcase HP technology, but in a way that had a direct impact, a positive impact, on an environmental issue. We sat down with CI a number of years ago, and they told us about this program they have, which they were already running in 16 rainforests around the world in 14 different countries. You can kind of imagine a belt roughly around the equator, and they’re located globally, these sites, where they were collecting camera trap information. These are cameras that go off automatically when animals go across their field of vision. They were collecting climate data, they were doing vegetation measurements, and they were just collecting so much data, three terabytes of data, and quite frankly, they couldn’t deal with it. When we heard about this program, we said this is a great example of something that HP could not only help with, we could really revolutionize. We sat down with their scientists at CI. We worked very closely with the team that was doing this work and the scientists doing this work, and we designed for them not only the software that would enable them to analyze these data more quickly but also turned it into a dashboard for them, so that they could see in real time what some of the factors were that were leading to declines in some of those species. This is where we took a process that CI literally was taking months to analyze maybe one animal species, we were able to distill that down to hours, and that’s why the name of the program is Earth Insights. From analyzing data, we were able to turn that into insights more quickly. That enables CI to intervene in those different rainforests or with the governments of those countries, give them advice as to how they can help maybe protect those species more completely. That program is a great example. It really captured the imagination of our company. Meg Whitman highlighted it at one of our sales meetings a little over a year ago, and then in addition to that, it really engaged the two teams internally that were doing the work, our software group, because we were using some proprietary software tools, and also our Enterprise Services team that provided the analytics. It’s really, really a great program for us in terms of showing our technology, but in a way that was having a positive impact. The cool thing about it is it helps to drive the business and get the business behind this program. A really synergistic thing that we were able to do. The reason why we focused on big data, to conquer your other question, is this is an issue that’s certainly facing the world in a big way. I talk about this in a number of contexts and a number of speeches, and almost every time I give this speech, I have to revise the data. At the moment, I think we create in 10 minutes more data than in all of human history up to the year of 2003. Just think about that. It’s amazing the explosion of data in our society due to smart phones, greater connectivity, and we’re all sharing things all the time, pictures, music, you name it. More importantly, data that’s material to helping drive our society to greater economic efficiency. This is just going to continue to explode. There are projections that say by 2020, it’s going to be 50 times what we have today. One of the challenges I think that that presents to a company like HP is that we need to find more energy-efficient ways of managing and providing access to those data. We just know that the middle classes in developing countries are going to continue to grow, and that’s great. We want greater economic mobility and improvement in livelihoods, but in order to be able to continue to provide the data support for that, we need to find more energy-efficient and space-efficient ways of delivering those data. JOHN SHEGERIAN: For our listeners that just joined us, we’ve got Chris Librie with us today. He’s the Senior Director of HP Living Progress. To learn more about Living Progress, you can go to www.hp.com/livingprogress or you can come see Chris speak himself in-person May 27th-May 30th at the Sustainatopia conference in Beverly Hills at the Hyatt Regency. Chris will be here. HP is a big sponsor. Chris, talk a little bit about some of the other issues that I see on your great website, the Living Progress website, Moonshot servers, Apollo supercomputers, and the machine. How does that play into what you’re trying to achieve at HP Living Progress? CHRIS LIBRIE: Remember, John, Living Progress is all about what we do, our products and services. These are great examples of products and services that are going to not only have a huge environmental impact in terms of improving the environmental footprint of data centers, but by doing that, they’re going to enable human and economic progress because of the connectivity and the access to data issues that I just touched on. In brief, Moonshot is an incredible server technology that uses the chips that we find in our smartphones. These are server cartridges that are 80 percent more space-efficient than the kinds of servers they replace. They are also up to 90 percent more energy-efficient for certain applications than the servers they replace. It’s a quantum leap, really, in terms of space and energy efficiency. One of the things I definitely want to say is that energy is an obvious one when you’re talking about processing data and data centers. I know that topic has been covered a lot, but let’s not forget the space requirements of data centers. It’s the bricks and mortar and the footprint of the building. By reducing the space needs dramatically, as Moonshot has done by using this server on a chip kind of approach, which is basically what the cartridge does, we’ve really revolutionized that paradigm. Moonshot is a great example. It’s in the market. There are five or so different cartridges that cover different types of applications with similar levels of space and energy efficiency. Apollo, which you mentioned, is a supercomputer that’s liquid cooled. What’s really interesting about that is liquid, water, is a much better conductor of heat than air. Most supercomputers are cooled by air. Apollo, by being cooled by water, is much more energy-efficient. Already you get massive improvements in energy efficiency, but what comes on top of that, is that you can then take that water that’s been heated by the supercomputer, and you can use it to heat nearby buildings. It’s an amazing system. We’ve installed a bank of these at the National Energy Research Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, NERL, and we’ve had some amazing results on that campus, where we’ve been able to use the heated water to heat the buildings and thereby get even more efficiencies out of the system. NERL is projecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings through that. Those are foundational technologies we have in place right now. The machine, which you mentioned, is something that is a research project we’re working on also right now, but we’re hoping to have in the market in a number of ways in the next couple of years. HP Labs is totally focused on this idea of revolutionizing the architecture around computing and replacing wires with photonics, using lasers to transmit data within the machine, rather than wires. You can imagine how much more energy-efficient that is. Using a technology called memristors, which is a chemical storage of memory that’s non-volatile. It’s not energy-dependent. Basically, you’ve got memory there that doesn’t need to be maintained with electricity. Again, huge improvements in terms of energy efficiency, space efficiency. What the machine is doing is combining the server on a chip from Moonshot, photonics, memristor, in order to create a complete revolution in terms of energy and space efficiency, that’s going to help enable things like the internet of things. We’re not going to be able to manage all the data that comes from planes, smart cars, wearables. All that stuff is going to wind up getting connected at some point, and that’s good because it’s going to provide us with incredible information and the ability to anticipate all sorts of issues, air traffic issues, ground traffic issues, weather issues. All of that stuff is going to help enable economic and human progress, the only way we’ll be able to do that is by totally relooking the architecture of computers. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I know, Chris, we’re down to the last two minutes, and it’s so unfair to have you on and talk about HP’s Living Progress in a short period because it’s literally a massive and rich program. What I’m understanding here, from everything you’re discussing, is that innovation is not only alive, but it is exploding at HP, with regards to sustainability and your approach to innovation and sustainability converging is massive at this point. CHRIS LIBRIE: Absolutely. That’s really what Meg Whitman wanted us to do with Living Progress. She wanted us to take that wonderful heritage from Bill and Dave, that founder DNA, the embedded nature of it in this organization, and tap into that and use it to help fuel the turnaround, as you said, not only innovation, which really needs to be focused on solving some of society’s toughest challenges, but also engaging the workers and the team and getting people motivated. We’re going through a time of significant change at HP, as we have many times in the past in our 75 years. That’s what Silicon Valley is all about. It’s always changing. One of the constants needs to be sustainability. It needs to be the employee engagement that comes from sustainability. People want to be part of an organization that’s doing something good for society. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s awesome. Chris, your HP Living Progress is definitely doing something good for society. We’re thankful for you coming on the show. We’re going to have you back. For people who want to come see Chris in person, go to Sustainatopia at the Hyatt Regency at the end of May, May 27th-30th, and see Chris talking about HP Living Progress right there. You can learn more online at hp.com/livingprogress. Thank you, Chris, for being an inspirational leader at HP Living Progress. You are truly living proof that green is good.