HP's Move: Boon For Partners


When HP announced it was looking at strategic options for its PC business a few weeks back, it prompted a mad scramble among many of its solution providers, competing vendors and HP’s channel management team. While one can debate why HP made the announcement at all before having a definitive plan, in my opinion the move has actually been healthy for partners. Before you call me crazy, hear me out.

First, partners that are heavily engaged with HP began to wonder if that was a risky strategy. Some immediately began exploring other opportunities in fear of what might become of the HP relationship should it shift to new ownership.

Second, the competition jumped on the opportunity and looked at it as a way to have conversations with partners they had wanted to have for years.

After the dust settles, I’m convinced that this is going to be a good thing for everyone -- HP, its competitors and the partner community.
How can this possibly be good for HP, you ask, given that it sent partners into a period of uncertainty and opened an opportunity for competitors to create fear, uncertainty and doubt?

There is no question that it opened an opportunity for the competitive set but that, in turn, forced the HP team to concentrate on its efforts with partners. This is resulting in a unique period where HP is all ears and working double time to hear partner concerns. It’s a chance for partners to get their gripes on the table and a chance for HP to prove its commitment to them by listening and reacting. There is little question the company is in heavy outbound communication and listening mode.

It may take a year or more to actually get this done. If HP’s executives continue to show their listening skills and love for partners, the new organization -- which will need to prove its value -- will already have that ingrained in its culture.

Meanwhile, HP’s competitors -- including Cisco, Lenovo, EMC, Dell and others -- are reaching out to solution providers. Dell has been one of the most aggressive on this front, largely due to the focus and engagement of Michael Dell who, along with his channel chief Greg Davis, immediately jumped on the opportunity to talk to a new set of partners that had had a closed mind in the past. For solution providers, it’s never bad when you’re being courted heavily by powerhouses that can help you solve your customers’ needs.

Some others could learn a few things by watching how aggressive the Dell team has been around this. Perhaps it’s a result of the mother of invention for this company, which is still early in its channel execution history, but Dell is taking this very seriously at a time when it absolutely has to be taken seriously as a channel partner.

In the end, I think solution providers should enjoy this period and take it as an opportunity to talk to the customers who may be uneasy and help them understand your strategy. Also, use this time to have market development conversations with HP and with the competitive set that is chasing you. The suppliers want your attention because they realize you are the growth engine they need and they are absolutely looking for a conversation and a working relationship or they wouldn’t reach out -- so turn the distraction into more business.

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