Some partners see Whitman's appointment as a welcome sign of the HP board stepping up to correct a problem. Kristin Rogers, executive vice president of sales and marketing at PC Mall, a Torrance, Calif.-based HP partner, is encouraged by the board's move and believes Whitman can help right the ship at HP.
"As a large HP reseller, I'm gratified to see a change being made as an acknowledgment of the challenges the CEO's recent actions have created for the channel and end users," said Rogers. "Meg Whitman has a strong reputation as a solid, thoughtful executive, so I look forward to her leadership at HP."
One long-term HP solution provider who requested anonymity said what the HP channel needs from Whitman is a combination of the skill sets brought by predecessors Mark Hurd and Fiorina. More importantly, the HP channel needs a board of that can start doing its job, the solution provider said. "The board needs to keep HP out of the headlines," the solution provider said. "I'm hoping the board will get its act together. We just need consistency and predictability."
While Whitman's experience until now has been focused in the consumer market, that should not be a negative for HP. "She's a very brilliant person," the solution provider said.
In the wake of last month’s revelation that HP is considering the sale or spin-off of its Personal Systems Group, HP gathered Todd Bradley, PSG executive vice president, and other top executives for a conference call with partners to urge them not to allow Dell or other rivals to take advantage of the PSG uncertainty. In presenting a unified front, HP's message was clear: HP’s leadership doesn't end at the CEO's office, but permeates the entire organization.
Romi Randhawa, president and CEO of Fremont, Calif.-based solution provider HPM Networks, would like to see the same cast of executives join Whitman when she addresses the public for the first time as head of HP.
"If she makes it clear that HP is committed to engineering and being the No. 1 PC company, that's what resellers and customers are looking for," said Randhawa. "If she can come in and make an immediate public statement that the circus is over, that would really help."
Steven Burke and Joseph F. Kovar contributed to this article.