HP Seeks Edge From Channel In Latest SMB Push

Also at the event, HP introduced a barrage of printing and imaging products, plus new or expanded alliances with Microsoft, SAP, Intuit and Avaya as part of its Smart Office initiative.

>> 'We're not up to snuff on Smart Office. If it came through, it flew under our radar.'

Solution providers, however, gave mixed reviews to HP's SMB plans. In addition, others said the Smart Office strategy was unclear and that competition with HP Direct blunted the vendor's SMB strategy.

"We're not up to snuff on Smart Office," said Bob Parsons, president of Automated Office Solutions, an SMB VAR in Evansville, Ind. "If it came through, it flew under our radar and we kind of missed it."

When an SMB deal reaches a certain size, HP Direct often competes against VARs, said Bruce Geier, president and CEO of Technology Integration Group, a San Diego-based solution provider. "When they compete against you, you can't beat them pricewise," Geier said.

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Kevin Gilroy, senior vice president and general manager of SMB, estimated HP's annual global SMB sales at $21 billion to $24 billion, of which only 10 percent to 15 percent doesn't go through solution providers. To outflank competitors, HP aims to leverage its handheld to high-end product lines as well as its channel, Gilroy said. "Nobody has the breadth of product we do," he said.

Nancy Pautsch, enterprise account executive at Inacom Information Systems, said HP's broad menu of products recently helped the Madison, Wis.-based solution provider win a deal. "HP met more of the requirements--among them, [providing] tablet PCs--than other vendors," Pautsch said.