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Of the 26 Channel Champion product categories, HP, Palo Alto, Calif., won six overall awards and tied with IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y., for a seventh. By contrast, Cisco Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif., the vendor with the next most overall awards, won in four categories. IBM won three and tied with HP in a fourth.
HP's showing reflects the breadth of the vendor's product offerings, including notebooks, storage, networking hardware, and software and printers. But it also reflects HP's full-court channel press, led by HP CEO Mark Hurd, to do whatever it takes to enlist channel help to improve HP's U.S. sales coverage.
"We have to stay in constant communication and contact with partners out there to how their models are changing given the market dynamics," said Tom LaRocca, HP's vice president, partner development and programs. "The Channel Champs awards were a huge endorsement of where we're going—not only from a product perspective, but also from a program and technical support perspective. We're not sitting on our laurels. We like the direction that we're going and we're going to continue to get better every quarter."
HP's success serves as a model for those vendors plotting future growth strategies. Technology is only one leg of a stool whose foundation depends on well-thought-out channel strategies and constant communication with solution providers to ensure that product development and channel programs evolve to meet customer needs.
HP surpassed the $100 billion mark in annual sales for the first time in its fiscal 2007, racking up $104.3 billion in revenue for the year ended Oct. 31.
But HP's Channel Champs showing is more than just a reflection of size. Hurd knows that HP hasn't gotten where it is or can't get where it wants to be without solution providers. Hurd told CRN earlier this year that HP has less than 60 percent sales coverage in the global IT market. In order to grab a greater share of that market—he expects to hit $1.2 trillion next year—he has to forge tighter relationships with solution providers, especially in the United States. "I can't hire enough humans. The only way I can get there is that I have to have friends of HP," he said.
Hurd also made clear that meeting and speaking with partners is part of his everyday job. "Every trip I go on, I try to have a partner meeting. Generally, I meet with two or three in every city I go to," he said.
In solution provider meetings at HP's recent Americas Partner Conference, for example, he challenged channel executives to tell him what HP is doing right and what it needs to do better. He promised to send e-mails or make phone calls to solution providers' customers if they needed help in closing a deal, according to solution providers that met with Hurd.