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That's the view among Hewlett-Packard's solution providers. And that's one of the big reasons HP surged past IBM this year to become the world's largest technology company with fiscal 2007 revenue cracking the $100 billion mark for the first time.
What sets Hurd apart from top rivals IBM and Dell is that he regularly meets with and seeks input from HP solution providers of all stripes.
In May, for example, Hurd and his top lieutenants held an unprecedented channel summit in La Jolla, Calif., with about 40 solution providers to discuss how HP and the channel could mutually grow their business.
And Hurd has been holding CIO summits around the country in which he meets privately with IT executives from small and medium companies and pushes HP's business partners as the primary source for HP products and solutions.
At one such roundtable in San Antonio earlier this year, Jay Uribe, co-president of San Antonio-based Mobius Partners, said Hurd encouraged the companies to work with HP solution providers because HP couldn't touch every midmarket account with its direct-sales force. "That afternoon [after the morning roundtable] I had three voice mails from three financial institutions wanting to set up a meeting to discuss their IT environment," he said.
Rick Chernick, CEO of Camera Corner/Connecting Point, a Green Bay, Wis., solution provider who attended the May summit added, "Mark Hurd made it very clear that HP is going to be No. 1 in all of the product categories that they are involved with and they are going to do it with the solution provider," he said. "That's the key message that came across."
The two-day Executive Think-Leadership Through Partnership Summit session came as both Dell CEO Michael Dell and IBM CEO Sam Palmisano were making new overtures to the channel in an effort to capture more of the SMB market they see increasingly dominated by Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP. But solution providers say Hurd has set a new bar among IT vendor CEOs. Face-to-face contact trumps press releases. Listening to and meeting with solution providers on a private basis beats a keynote address at a partner conference.
With Dell struggling to build a channel strategy and IBM fighting to recoup the hearts and minds of the SMB solution providers it lost touch with when it sold off its PC business, solution providers say Hurd's personal involvement positions HP as the clear favorite in the looming SMB battleground.
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