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1: He Is Channel-Friendly
Apotheker has aggressively reached out to channel partners of all sizes in countries all over the world. When he makes a business trip he makes a point of meeting local HP partners, not only because they are selling HP products but to get "first-hand knowledge" of customers and the market. All in all, Apotheker has met with about 50 partners around the world including about 25 in the U.S., a number of whom were concerned before meeting him that the man with enterprise software roots would not be as channel-engaged as his predecessor, who is now president of HP rival Oracle.
Apotheker said HP partners should sleep soundly knowing that the company is firmly committed to them. "I know that many people in the channel were afraid that I was known to be a direct-sales, proprietary, get-out-of-my-way kind of person," said Apotheker. "That is actually totally not true. Even at SAP where I did build the world's probably best direct-sales force, it was hugely leveraged by channel partners, hugely leveraged. Without the channel partners SAP would have never become what it became. Not even close. So I have always worked with channel partners and if I could use this opportunity as I am talking to you, I want to convey the message again and again and again: I embrace channel partners in any language you would choose."
Gary Johnston, president and co-CEO of IT Partners, a $32 million HP-exclusive Converged Infrastructure data center partner, said he found Hurd's departure disconcerting but after meeting with Apotheker, he believes HP's channel commitment is unwavering. "He gave me a good commitment that HP is and will always be a channel company and that as HP moves to connected devices and Platform-as-a-Service, there will be clearly delineated places for the channel to play. I felt good coming out of the meeting. I felt like this is someone that can take HP to the next level."
Johnston's eight-year-old Tempe, Ariz., company, which started as a services provider and added HP's Converged Infrastructure products in 2004, is now ready to make another big investment in HP software and services to play in the cloud computing era. "We are investing in expertise around HP's software portfolio. That is absolutely critical. HP's Converged Infrastructure software is critical to realizing the vision."
2: He Is An Inspiring Technology Visionary
Make no mistake about it. Apotheker is a technology visionary. And he has a vision to return HP to the engineering-oriented, entrepreneurial innovator that Hewlett and Packard envisioned when they founded the company.
Vyomesh "VJ" Joshi, executive vice president of HP's Imaging & Printing Group who has worked under five HP CEOs, said he is excited by Apotheker's "bold vision" for the company. "It is definitely different from looking at HP as [just a technology] arms supplier," he said. "We are talking about a next-generation [cloud computing] architecture based on formidable market trends but then built out with new solutions. It really pulls everything together into an HP vision rather than an [HP] individual business vision."
Fred Traversi, CEO of AdvizeX Technologies, one of HP's top enterprise partners, compares Apotheker to computer industry giants such as former Digital Equipment Corp. co-founder and CEO Ken Olsen, who brought minicomputers, distributed computing and networking to businesses around the world. "Whenever you walked out of a meeting with Ken Olsen, he had such technology vision that you had to go home and think about it," said Traversi, a 31-year IT industry veteran who has met with a number of industry pioneers and sat down with Apotheker several months ago. "Leo clearly has that technology vision. It is easy to invest in a company with that kind of technology vision and leadership. I think Leo is the right leader at the right time for HP. He has a five-year vision that is very easy to connect with.
"I was struck by the depth and breadth of his technology vision," added Traversi. "He clearly understands how to use technology to help solve business problems. His whole orientation was the future of technology. I met with Hurd in his first month and he treated technology as a business. Leo treats technology as technology."
AdvizeX, Burlington, Mass., is making a sizable investment in HP mobility software, business technology optimization software and security software. Five years down the road, Traversi sees software sales shooting up from 10 percent of his business to 20 percent, and annuity services, which he calls an incremental new opportunity, accounting for as much as 30 percent of revenue.