HP Wants To Mend Fences With Partners, But Is It Too Late?

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HP's Solution Partners Organization (SPO), formed in 2004 when HP combined its enterprise and commercial channels into a single worldwide entity, included a sales and marketing team that supported more than 25,000 HP partners and distributors.

SPO has been renamed the Channel Marketing Organization, but its functions and programs remain the same, an HP spokesperson told CRN.

Partners, on the other hand, believe that this is more than just a simple name change. SPO was a strong advocate for partners and provided cohesiveness across HP's business units, and the Channel Marketing Organization does not appear to carry the same weight.

Since the name change, HP's direct sales force has been calling on clients, making offers and creating conflict between the client and the partner, Busam told CRN.

HP, in last week's 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, spoke of its need to "rebuild our business relationships with our channel partners."

As part of this effort, HP is planning to boost its investment in the channel this year, though the HP spokesperson did not specify by how much. "We are committed to our channel partners, and we continue to work to drive more business through the channel. As such, associated investments in driving channel growth will increase" in 2013 relative to 2012, the HP spokesperson told CRN.

HP also has arranged the Printing and Personal Systems channel organization to allow it to cover more partners, and HP is increasing funding to distributors that have dedicated support resources for SMB partners, according to the spokesperson.

While it remains to be seen if these moves will make life easier for beleaguered SMB partners, the changes could be considered steps in the right direction for a company that has long been plagued by the competing interests of its internal divisions.

John Gunn, president and CEO of ISG Technology, a Salina, Kan.-based HP partner, has been encouraged by recent deals he's seen in which multiple HP business units have worked together on bundles.

"I believe that HP has listened to partners and customers and no longer has its head in the sand," Gunn told CRN.


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