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HP Vows To Fix eHIP Problems To Partners' Satisfaction

The name is gone; the program remains.

After getting an earful of complaints from enterprise distributors and solution providers during a 12-city channel road show attended by top Hewlett-Packard executives, HP has decided to abandon the enhanced Integrated Partner (eHiP) moniker but keep the basic tenets of its enterprise distribution program intact.

Solution providers were skeptical of the move. "eHiP has been a disaster for this industry," said Don Richie, president of Sequel Data Systems, an Austin, Texas, HP Enterprise partner. "Changing the name won't do anything unless they fix the problems. If the model is sound, why does it take us a week to get pricing quotes and why does it take months to get product shipments that are often wrong or incomplete?"

For its part, HP said it would adjust rather than abandon its enterprise distribution program. "We will re-engineer and rebrand eHiP because the name is so tainted," said Kevin Gilory, HP's senior vice president of worldwide SMB segment operations, who was responsible for the eHiP program until late last month. "I think the model from a seamless SG&A [standpoint] that takes redundant costs out of the systems is a good one, and we will stick with it. But the execution of the model was unacceptable; the logistics of the model were unacceptable; and the pain point to our distributors and VARs was unacceptable."

Gilroy vowed that the eHiP conflicts--which he attributed to an underinvestment by HP in people and systems--would be resolved by Oct. 31, the end of HP's fiscal fourth quarter.

The re-engineering of eHiP is part of a 100-day plan Gilroy launched last May to iron out problems in HP's PartnerOne channel program and its logistics, notably on the enterprise side. The plan, which included the road show where HP sought input from its solution providers, concluded early this month.

Gilroy said a new plan will be put into affect during the next 90 days. But apparently that will happen without his guidance. Gilroy resigned his post as vice president and general manager of partners for the Americas region to assume his SMB role.

Scott Andersen, who took over Gilroy's channel post on an interim basis, said some of the eHiP issues have already been resolved. HP enterprise partners have complained that they were experiencing accounting difficulties with distributors in that the amount of products distributors said the solution providers sold did not match the partners' own records, resulting in delays in getting PartnerOne rebate dollars. "All of those problems have been resolved and fixed as of last month," Andersen said.

Gilory said, too, that MDF dollars for enterprise sales would increase "north of 50 percent" for HP's fiscal fourth quarter, which began Aug. 1. "Partners told us that the enterprise [business] needs to be jump-started," he said.

Gilroy added that partners remain concerned about periodic disconnect and conflict with HP's direct-sales force. To help ease those tensions, HP has decided to combine its partner conference and its direct-sales conference into a single event to be held next February. "Our partners will sit side by side with our direct-sales team, and [partners] will hear the same thing from our executives that they are telling our direct-sales force," he said.

Gilroy said HP would also move to protect solution providers that lose HP Accredited Systems Engineers (ASEs) to competitors. After spending considerable time and money to train ASEs to meet PartnerOne membership requirements, they are being "raided" by competitors, said Bruce Geier, president of Technology Integration Group, a San Diego-based HP Platinum solution provider.

Gilroy said that if a partner loses an ASE and falls below the number of certified professionals needed to maintain Gold or Platinum PartnerOne status, the partner will be given time to replace that person without losing its current PartnerOne status.

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