HP's Success Starts At The Top

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For 20 years, CRN's Channel Champions awards have been the gold standard pointing solution providers to who truly is walking the channel walk rather than just talking the channel talk.

This year, once again, there simply is no vendor that has more channel breadth, depth and commitment than HP, which walked away with more than twice as many top honors and subcategory awards than IBM or Cisco. The HP victory marks the third consecutive year that it has dominated the Channel Champions awards. That's a trend that should be cause for alarm for IBM and Cisco, which dominated the awards ceremony in 2006.

There are many reasons for HP's impressive Channel Champions performance. But the most important is a channel culture that starts at the top of the company with HP CEO Mark Hurd.

In our cover story this month, Hurd gives a rare look at what sets HP apart from competitors like IBM and Cisco. He says HP is not just channel friendly, but rather is a company of "channel zealots." Let me repeat that. "Channel zealots." It's not just talk. No other company has a CEO and executive team that has as much channel zeal. Hurd himself is the "chief channel zealot." Can Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano say the same?

Hurd, his executive team and HP employees have a channel passion and drive that is lacking at other companies. That is because Hurd is all about sales and execution. And, of course, the quickest and most efficient way to drive sales growth is with a robust channel.

Hurd himself is in the channel paint driving sales and execution, doing one or two CIO roundtables each week, selling hand in hand with his channel partners.

Given that kind of leadership, it is not surprising that HP is now the largest computer company in the world, boasting the broadest and deepest IT portfolio from innovative mobile client devices and PCs to a full set of printing solutions to best-in-class converged data center solutions. The channel is playing in all those product, solution and service sets fueled by HP's robust PartnerOne channel program.

"We've had good growth in the channel every year for the past four or five years," said Hurd. "We don't expect that to change. And I think you should expect us to continue to try to convince the channel that there's a lot of advantages to being able to leverage all of our capabilities as opposed to just one."

That drive to get the channel to leverage all of HP's product, solutions and services should scare competitors from the tip of their toes to the top of their heads. Yet it probably doesn't. Frankly, many CEOs and channel leaders are asleep at the wheel.

Not Hurd and his team. While competitors have been lulled by a channel nonchalance, an insidious channel malaise, HP is moving aggressively to go deeper with channel partners. And that means big sales and profit gains in the years ahead for HP and its channel partners.

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