The key to a successful solution provider business is having the weapons to overcome three business challenges, said Kevin Hooper, vice president and general manager of emerging growth accounts and SMB for Hewlett-Packard's ESSN group.
The challenges are helping customers around productivity and collaboration (enabling innovation); energy efficiency and carbon footprint, and business continuity, Hooper told the crowd of solution providers at XChange Tuesday.
"Get conversational with these three ideas. Just having business conversations with people who never expected you to ask the questions around business issues will lead to longer conversations," he said.
The three areas are vital to end users' IT experiences, Hooper said. For example, he talked about visiting a hospital that had lost its network for eight hours, almost costing the CIO his job. On the CIO's desk was a charred, stuffed squirrel. Hooper naturally asked why someone would want such a thing on their desk. Apparently, the squirrel had walked across nearby power lines, shorting them out -- the CIO had it stuffed as a reminder that he had not taken power into account when building the network.
"He had not taken into account business continuity," Hooper said.
To complicate matters, many corporate CIOs are not at their jobs long enough to oversee the full implementation of a disaster recovery strategy, Hooper said. "After the 1989 [Northridge, Calif.] earthquake, I asked one CIO, 'What's your disaster recovery plan?' He said, 'Hope.' "
Productivity and collaboration are also vital to enterprises of all sizes because market dynamics change so quickly, causing CIOs to have to adjust their priorities on the fly, he said. Citing a recent Gartner report about CIO priorities, Hooper noted that the lists for 2010 and 2011 were radically different, the biggest change in 23 years.
"We have a massively changing IT environment and how IT is used is changing," Hooper said. "Seventy percent of [CIOs'] budgets are spent before they show up in the morning. Only 30 percent is left focused on how they bring value to customers of IT within a business and it's getting eaten up by sprawl."
To help VARs solve that problem, HP turned to four key vendor alliances to help VARs bring solution to market, Hooper said. The alliances are with Microsoft, SAP, VMware and a group of vertical ISVs.
"We are working to bring appliances to market that are preintegrated, pretested combinations of hardware and software that solve key problems. Business intelligence is absolutely fundamental to the growth of any business. Now it's in the hands of the masses," Hooper said.
Before closing his speech, Hooper brought an HP partner, John Convery, executive vice president of vendor relationships and marketing for Denali Advanced Integration, on stage to provide a VAR's view of the company.
"Many of us are building the airplane in flight. The reality is business is moving quickly and you need to have a trusted adviser," Convery said. I'm driving the airplane and the resources behind HP are in the navigation seat. We're very proud of our relationship."