HP Inc.’s channel chief for the Americas has a gift for understatement. “It’s been a very busy year for us,” says Stephanie Dismore, whose official title is vice president and general manager, Americas channels, speaking just a little more than 12 months after her employer, Hewlett-Packard, turned itself from one gargantuan company into two merely enormous ones.
HP Inc., the post-split home of Hewlett-Packard’s PC and printer businesses, has been working hard and moving fast ever since, and in ways that as far as Dinsmore is concerned, at least, have only benefited the company’s channel. “Before our split, you could say that HP was really partner-centric,” she asserts. “We’ve moved to a partner-led organization.” As a result, she continues, a vendor that previously did 80 percent of its business through the channel has raised that figure to 87 percent.
“The health of our company, the health of HP, really sits with the health of the channel community, so when in doubt, we go channel,” says Dismore of HP Inc.’s go-to-market philosophy.
That channel has had a slew of interesting new products to sell too, from the Elite x3 smartphone/tablet/PC 3-in-1 to the Elite Slice mini-PC with its snap-together audio and optical disk drive modules, to the groundbreaking Jet Fusion 3-D printing solution. According to Dismore, those and other eye-catching, headline-grabbing devices reflect a strategic effort on HP’s part to turn its heritage and reputation as a Silicon Valley pioneer into a source of competitive advantage. “We have to be the leaders in innovation,” she says. “It’s in our DNA. That’s what you’ve seen over the last year. That’s what you’ll continue to see as we move forward.”
Partner Program Change
Some partners will be watching that development from a greater distance than before, however. In November, HP officially eliminated the lowest tier of its Partner First channel program, forcing everyone who once belonged to that “business partner” membership level to get sales and technical assistance from distributors rather than HP itself. From Dismore’s perspective, the new arrangement is only fair.
“We had thousands and thousands of partners that were in the business partner space that were not significantly working or partnering with HP,” she says. “It was a lot of resources to manage with very little engagement.” Though eliminating direct support for the company’s least active resellers may be wrenching for some channel pros, Dismore contends, it enables HP to focus more attention on the truly committed resellers who deserve it.
Helping those engaged partners exploit emerging opportunities is a top HP priority for the year ahead. Those include a new device-as-a-service offering that lets businesses buy desktop, notebook, and mobile computers, plus support, for a single per-seat monthly fee. Announced in June and rolled out broadly in November, the new purchasing option is too young to have gained much traction in the marketplace yet, but Dismore plans to change that in 2017. “[We’ll] continue to work with our channel partners in FY 2017 and really start to launch and scale that,” she says.
Same goes for the company’s big-time push into the A3 segment of the $55 billion copier market, an initiative HP launched with a bang in September when it purchased Samsung’s printer business for just over $1 billion and rolled out a line of homegrown A3 multifunction devices. According to Dismore, partners are eager to get in on the brewing MFP action.
“They’re very excited to get engaged, understand the criteria, and understand how they fit into the overall portfolio,” she says, adding that answers to their questions will arrive in the first quarter of HP’s current fiscal year, which began November 1. Given the company’s determination to put partners front and center in everything it does, it’s likely to be good news too. “We’re going to continue to drive our programs and our structure to make sure that we lead with the channel,” Dismore pledges.
This article was originally posted on sister site ChannelPro Network.
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