What about hybrid devices or 2-in-1s? Does HP see that as a major opportunity?
Jensen: Oh, absolutely. We see a huge need for hybrids because you can still have decent computing power but also have the mobility and ease-of-use of a tablet. And in the commercial space, we've seen a lot of hybrids being used for presentation purposes. So instead of using a traditional laptop clamshell design to display something and then have to turn it around to face you, I can just table my hybrid and convert it [to tent mode, for example]. So it's really taking off.
What's the challenge then for solution providers looking to up their business in the mobile device market?
Jensen: I think for partners, the challenge is to choose from the assortment of devices out there and find something that fulfills customers' needs. Because you can swamp yourself in a product nightmare where you suddenly increase your product inventory, and that makes it harder for your sales staff to sell and it makes it harder for your customers to choose. So one of things we're really working on is helping partners with their value proposition in choosing the right devices.
It's also about adapting to the needs of the user. If you go back a few years, a commercial laptop was not the hottest and sexiest product. I used to do end-user sales, and I've met with many CIOs and IT managers who had a lot of pain because their employees would see a laptop at Best Buy and say, 'I want that one, it's hot and sexy!' But they can't put that laptop in the network, it's not secure and it's not manageable, so it doesn't make sense for the company's total cost of ownership. So what we've done is built designs that are fully competitive with a consumer product and adapted it to commercial needs with the right features. And we're working closely with our channel partners to bring them out to the market.
What about Windows 8? From a channel perspective, has Windows 8.1 made a difference for partners?
Jensen: Well, that's actually a two-part answer. There are mobile devices, and there are notebooks and desktops. There's also a difference in the customer type between commercial and consumers. Enterprises and corporate customers are typically slow adopters; as much as we and Microsoft would like to drive more Windows 8 adoption together, history tells us that upgrading to a new operating system is a slower pace on the commercial side. That's for PCs. Now on the tablet side, there's a unique opportunity for HP and our partners to sell a new device that is adaptable to the same environment and infrastructure. And we're actually seeing an increased interest from both partners and customers to engage Windows 8 on the tablet side since Windows 8.1 was introduced. And in that respect, this could even mean we could have a quicker transition from one operating system to the new one in the enterprise space; SMB is slightly different because they have less complex IT environments and tend to transition quicker. So I think the enhancements we've seen with Windows 8.1 have improved things.
With the new products and multi-OS strategy, will there be any accompanying channel strategy or partner program changes on the PPS side?
Jensen: With the announcements we made this week, we have a very solid technology platform. And that's going to continue to develop, and you and I can only imagine what we're going to bring out next year. The speed of innovation is just tremendous right now. I think the key focus for us is to continue the journey with our channel partners -- simplicity, profitability and predictability. We’ve revamped our partner program and we have the attractive products [on the PPS side] that partners want to sell. We've made a radical change to our channel strategy and how we work with partners. I met with some of our Asian partner community in October, and they were all asking what's next for the partner program. And I told them I promised stability and predictability. And they're getting that right now. But we're going to make small tweaks and changes along the way because we're not home safe yet. We have growth ahead of us, and we have to grow together. So we're looking at things like pricing strategies, marketing and partner enablement for leads. So we're reversing the way we look at the partner program. We made the big changes already, so now we're making the tweaks we're hearing about partner pain points. They're giving us the feedback to make those small changes to improve. We have the program, we have the technology, and now we're looking at how we're operating with partners.
PUBLISHED JAN. 9, 2014