HP Canada’s channel Triumvirate working well so far

LAS VEGAS — On the eve of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s (NYSE: HPQ) global partner conference, CDN sat down with HP Canada’s business leaders to see where they’re planning to drive the business in 2012 and where they see the biggest opportunity for channel partners to drive growth.

HP Canada’s channel Triumvirate working well so far

It’s been two months since HP Canada announced it was doing away with a single channel-chief position to have channel leads aligned with each of the business units, with former channel boss John Cammalleri taking over the personal system group (PSG) and lead for the small and medium-sized business partner go to market. Sal Giulione has responsibility for enterprise servers, storage and networking and Patrick Harrison is now channel lead for imaging and printing (IPG).

HP stressed at the time that its partner outreach in Canada was always very business-unit focused under the overall PartnerOne umbrella, so there would be little change resulting from the restructuring, and the three say so far partner reaction has been positive.

“Each business unit is aligned around driving investment into partners through PartnerOne, and the benefit of the three of us is we’re specialized in each business unit, so we’re having very detailed business-level discussions with partners,” said Harrison. “And PartnerOne pulls it all together.

Cammalleri said the group have monthly governance meetings to keep everyone coordinated, and with the increasing complexity of solutions a more specialized approach is essential. Giulione added that the tight-knit nature of HP Canada ensures that coordination between the business units will remain strong.

“Resellers have told us they prefer (the new structure) because we’re more focus and we’re showing up more too; they[re seeing us more,” said Giulione.

HP is proudly a hardware company again

Software was the focus for former HP CEO Léo Apotheker, highlighted by several major and costly acquisitions, but HP is now putting the focus on its strength and legacy as a hardware company.

“We’re a hardware company first and foremost and we’re proud of that; 70 per cent of our business is hardware. That may have been lost in the previous messaging,” said Dave Frederickson, vice-president and general manager of HP Canada’s enterprise servers, storage and networking business.

While hardware is the core, software is crucial to help HP differentiate in the market, added Frederickson. “Autonamy and Vertica are good examples of us going to where the puck is going to be. Every customer I speak to has a lot of unstructured data they want to get into the hands of decison-makers, and we believe it will be a very key asset going forward.”

Canada is under-served by partners on the software side, he added, and there’s opportunity for partners that have the vision to invest in software today. Helping customers wrap their heads around big data, in particular, is a key channel opportunity said Frederickson.

“I don’t believe our partners are stepping-up and investing to the degree we need them to be in this area,” said Frederickson. “There’s a big opportunity to have first-mover advantage.”

Aging printer install base means refresh opportunity

With an ageing install base in Canada, HP’s imaging and print group (IPG) is ramping-up its channel to target a significant refresh opportunity said Lloyd Bryant, vice-president and general manager for IPG with HP Canada.

Printers typically have a five-year refresh cycle but with many business, it can stretch to 10 years in some cases. Some 25 per cent of HP Canada’s install base has devices fives years of age or older, and with HP refreshing 65 per cent of its portfolio Bryant said it’s targeting that refresh opportunity.

“The new technology offers better efficiency in a smaller footprint and much lower environmental impact,” said Bryant. “There’s a great opportunity for partners to work with us.”

HP is rolling out programs such as the Trade Up program to help partners in this space, and is in the process of launching a program called “Mission Possible” to target specific customers with aged fleets in conjunction with channel partners.

And while some partners still replace printers on an ad hoc basis, Bryant expects many of the refresh customers to be converted to managed print services customers.

Netbooks live on in schools

Many vendors are pulling out of the once white-hot netbook and mini-notebook market, but HP remains committed and netbooks recently helped HP Canada when a major education deal said Leyland Brown, vice-president and general manager for HP Canada’s personal systems group (PSG).

Education is market where Brown is looking to take share, and Brown said a recent proof-point is a major contract won by HP partner Metafore to sell HP netbooks to the Toronto District School Board.

“We believe we have a good play with netbooks in education because it hits at that pricepoint to maximize the number of devices in the hands of students,” said Brown.

Key to the strategy, said Brown, is HP and its partners focusing their approach to advancing learning outcomes. Just like the business is focused on advancing business outcomes, in education it’s about improved learning results for students. Talking in that language will be key to growing that segment.

Services business growing with partners

It may not have always been clear in the past, but HP wants to work more closely with partners to deliver warranty support and other services, particularly in areas where IT markets are under-developed said Brad Keates, vice-president and general manager for technology services with HP Canada.

Keates said that three-quarters of new support services business is sold by partners, and 50 to 60 per cent is co-delivered by partners, in a scenario that sees HP level one and two phone support dispatching HP service partners to customer sites. Keates said he sees no barriers to growing both figures substantially. He’s particularly looking for services partners in under-serviced areas such as Kelowna, B.C., where the provincial government is building a major data centre, Fort McMurray, Alb., the centre of the oil sands, and Thunder Bay, Ont., a university town in Northern Ontario.

“Partners like the idea of fixed services they can deliver to customers in a predictable way. Predictable means it’s easier to make money,” said Keates. “And they don’t have to do their own product-line management.”

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