An Open Letter To Leo Apotheker


Dear Mr. Apotheker,

I'm sure you are thinking about your first 100 days in your new role as CEO of HP even though your start date is a week or two out. Given you are probably spending a lot of time reading up on the ensuing challenge, I thought I'd drop you a note to point out a few things you may not have had a chance to think about regarding your indirect sales channel.

First and foremost, your channel is nervous. Clearly most of that nervousness is the result of the uncertainty of a new leader stepping into a company that is so important to it.

As I'm sure you know, many of your worldwide partner bases have
a great deal of their own personal wealth tied up in their businesses and HP is an important supplier. In many cases, it is their most important vendor relationship. These businesspeople are constantly making decisions as to where to direct the sales and technical
teams to drive revenue, and they are always trying to understand the longer-term partnership opportunity.

Your predecessor, Mark Hurd, faced a more skeptical channel than you do when he entered the company. At that point, much of the channel was convinced that Carly Fiorina and HP were headed toward a more
direct sales model than what proved to be true.

Much like Hurd was when he first took the reins, you are relatively unknown to the indirect sales channel and come from a large company that had historically been focused on direct sales to enterprise accounts.

Hurd was fairly silent for a short period of time, but soon after made it clear that he was committed to the indirect channel and wanted stronger ties with it. While the channel wasn't always thrilled with Hurd's program changes, it understood they were designed to coerce more sales through partners.

Understanding the nervousness of your channel really should be acknowledged, and incorporated into your communication strategy -- especially in the early days.

There are, as always, changes afoot in the channel as technology
and business trends change. There are many questions about how cloud computing will change solution provider business models, and many are looking to companies like Everything Channel and the vendor community for direction and advice. Some are concerned their vendors may go in a different direction.

Given HP's importance to the channel and its breadth of products, it has a unique role to play in the cloud and it is something for which partners will be looking to you and HP.

While any new CEO, especially one taking on as large a company as HP, has to spend some time getting their head around the business, I would encourage you not to wait too long to send some signals to the channel that you are committed to staying the course.

No one expects you to be out talking it up immediately, but not communicating with the channel early on could be misinterpreted.

We wish you great success as we do with other leaders in the high-tech industry. The challenge of running a company as large and
important as HP is exciting, and the channel can help, and will
be looking to quickly engage with you and your team.

Sincerely,

Bob Faletra

CEO Everything Channel

BACKTALK: Make something happen. Robert Faletra
is CEO of Everything Channel. You can contact him via
e-mail at robert.faletra@ec.ubm.com.