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More Than Lip Service

It looks as if Hewlett-Packard may be getting its services act together at last. Earlier this month, HP said it would include solution providers in service opportunities once reserved exclusively for HP Services. Specifically, John Thompson, vice president and general manager for the Americas' Solution Partners Organization (SPO), said HP will open up SMB maintenance contract renewal sales to solution providers. Previously, solution providers were locked out of the contract renewal business if HP Services sold the original contract.

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Solution providers welcome the new opportunity, although they say HP Services finally realized it didn't have the feet on the street to effectively sell contract renewals.

HP for the first time also said it would allow solution providers to sell hardware for an agent fee into enterprise accounts holding HP Master Services Agreements (MSAs). Previously, solution providers were basically excluded from attaching additional business to MSA contracts. As a result, most solution providers didn't waste their time pursuing additional HP business in accounts holding MSAs.

Granted, these may be small concessions to the channel that are being made out of necessity. But at least HP showed it means business by tacking on solution provider-sold contract renewals to the quotas of HP Services sales reps. Compensation, not cajoling, is the key to changing behavior.

And the moves signal that HP Services and the company's SPO are talking to one another more—and it's not just lip service.

HP, in recent months, shifted responsibility for its warranty reimbursement business to SPO from the Technology Solutions Group (TSG). In other words, the organization responsible for working with the channel now has direct control over at least some services decisions affecting solution providers. Too often in the past, HP Services unleashed policies and programs that mystified, confused and angered solution providers because they were created seemingly without any input from the channel side of HP's house.

Hopefully, these new service offerings are harbingers of more channel-focused opportunities from HP.

CRAIG ZARLEY is industry editor at CRN. He can be reached via e-mail at

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