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This week, CRN sat down to talk about the business of serving small businesses with Meaghan Kelley, vice president of the SMB Strategy Group in Hewlett-Packard’s Solution Partner Organization - Americas; new HP SMB Advisory Council president Romi Randhawa, the CEO of solution provider HPM Networks; and Paul Morris, CIO of Bay Federal Credit Union, a top HP and HPM Networks customer.
Which of the three SMB segments that you break down by size is the toughest nut for HP to crack with its channel partners?
Meaghan Kelly: The way that we look at it, in the segment of 1 to 9 employees, classically people will probably go into Best Buy or Costco or Fry’s and just buy off the shelf. So in that one, we’re not necessarily putting proactive strategies into place, but we do have a reactive strategy in place for those customers who want to buy, absolutely we’ll service anyone who wants to do it. But I wouldn’t say that’s the primary market.
In the 10 to 99 segment, it’s a tough segment to crack because it’s more of an acquisition type of customer. It costs a little bit more, it takes a little bit more hand-holding. That’s where channel partners become very important, because a lot of those types of customers won’t even have an IT department or a CIO. From that perspective, the channel partners come in and they’re really able to add the extra piece in the value-added service around the HP portfolio and really bolster that opportunity for us. That’s an important segment.
And then the 100 to 999, and you could even stretch that higher if you wanted to, that’s classically where the HP business has been and where partners like Romi play very strongly. I’d say in the last 12 months, we’ve shifted that to not only retain and grow that particular segment, put also we’ve put things in place for partners like Romi to be able to serve that 10 to 99 segment. And so you’ll see all of the strategies now going down into that smaller space that allow people like Romi to go in there and crack that nut.
Is that 10 to 99 segment where you’d say managed service providers operate?
MK: Yeah, I do. I think you’re also seeing a lot of customers employing the cloud and the ones that are using the cloud will be in that space first, whereas larger organizations tend to do more traditional IT.
Romi Randhawa: We feel it’s more geographically segmented. Look at the Bay Area, it’s a savvy client base here in Northern California. I think 10 to 99 is a classic segment for an MSP, but I’m not too sure if it is here. I think it’s more in the Midwest, where it’s not so savvy a clientele. Here, you can call a receptionist and she would know how to troubleshoot a PC, she would at least get through the level one support herself before she opens up a ticket.