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HP Overhauls Partner Program To Target New Sales Models, Services, Data Sharing

The new HP Amplify program, which replaces HP Partner First, will launch in November with two tiers for partners and a new compensation structure.

HP Inc. is unveiling its new partner program, HP Amplify, which will feature a revamped compensation structure and a bigger focus on rewarding partners that can offer services, collaborate around data and bring a strong digital presence.

The HP Amplify partner program will debut for commercial partners on Nov. 1, and takes the place of the existing HP Partner First program. Amplify will focus on compensating partners for more than just sales volumes while bringing a new emphasis on data sharing, as customers increasingly look to interact digitally--a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

[Related: HP CEO Lores On As-A-Service ‘Acceleration’ And Combining Managed Print With Instant Ink]

Top HP partners who spoke with CRN applauded the moves as a way to enable a more modern, data-driven approach to selling, amid the rapid shift to digital and as-a-service purchasing among business customers.

“This is a quantum jump into what our new world is looking like,” said Harry Zarek, president and CEO of Richmond Hill, Ontario-based Compugen, No. 51 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500. “With the current situation of the pandemic, we have to change how we engage and operate our businesses. This [program] is really crossing the chasm from the old world and the old way of doing business.”

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based PC and printer giant says it will replace all existing tiers and programs with a new two-tier system in the Amplify program. “I do believe that it will be simpler for partners to understand how we will engage with them,” said Christoph Schell, chief commercial officer at HP, in an interview with CRN.

The base tier in the program, Synergy, is meant for most partners and will include standard benefits along with partner portal access and training.

The upper tier in Amplify will be the Power track, which will require a greater amount of investment from partners, HP said--and will also come with more investment from HP including with enhanced incentives, support and data.

There will also be one sub-tier of the Power tier for services partners, known as the Power Services track. Power Services will provide access to HP’s managed services portfolio and enable partners to participate in managed services delivery, HP said. Power Services partners will receive specialized support and resources from HP, the company said.

Andy Jones, CEO of Cleveland-based MCPc, No. 85 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500, said the Amplify program structure is the “next evolution” for HP and its channel partners.

“They’ve been maintaining a very broad channel portfolio with many legacy options in it,” Jones said. “That can make it hard to move at the speed you would like. Simplifying the program and standardizing the program around fewer options should give them the opportunity to see some force multiplication out of that.”

Jones and other solution provider executives who spoke with CRN also said they see the changes as dovetailing with the direction they’ve already been going in.

At NWN, No. 80 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500, there’s an expectation to qualify for the Power Services track due to the Waltham, Mass.-based solution provider’s focus on Device-as-a-Service, said CEO Jim Sullivan. HP’s Device-as-a-Service offering, which NWN specializes in providing to customers, combines PC leases with software for proactive identification of device issues.

“We’re really excited about the program, and it’s really nice to have full alignment for what we’ve been doing. It’s now aligning perfectly to the new program,” Sullivan said.

HP said the Amplify program will bring a deeper focus on enabling increased delivery of services, including both Device-as-a-Service and managed print services. The company has been seeing heightened demand for Device-as-a-Service and printer ink subscriptions amid the shift to remote work, HP CEO Enrique Lores said in a recent interview with CRN.

Service delivery capabilities will be one of the new performance indicators used to measure rewards in the Amplify program, HP said.

Juan Fernandez, vice president of managed IT services at ImageNet Consulting, a major Device-as-a-Service partner of HP, said he is thrilled to see greater incentivizing of services from the company.

With many customers now looking to buy PCs via subscription-like engagements, “offering as-a-service opportunities to our customers is important,” Fernandez said. “Hats off to HP for enabling that and really enforcing that in the partner channel.”

The program will also provide partner incentives for improvement of digital skills; capabilities around e-commerce and omnichannel; and collaboration with HP on data.

HP will be retooling its compensation structure for partners as part of the new Amplify partner program on Nov. 1. The changes are aimed at moving HP and its partners into a rewards system that recognizes more metrics than just sales goals and volume, the company said.

Sales volume and goals will still be part of the compensation structure under Amplify, but so will a number of other performance indicators, according to HP.

Those include pre-sales indicators, such as deal registration volume, sales conversion rates and pre-sales support utilization; indicators at the point of transaction including average sales volume and average revenue per account; and post-sales metrics such as time-to-delivery, account retention, account expansion and customer satisfaction.

Zarek said he is impressed by the way HP has set up the compensation structure in the Amplify program. “The way they’ve structured this and how they’re going to evaluate us is, to me, a demonstration that they’re serious about looking at a whole bunch of qualitative things--not simply unit numbers and revenue,” he said.

As part of Amplify, partners will also continue to have access to key rewards that are part of Partner First including special pricing and incentives, MDF and new business opportunity (NBO) incentives, HP said.

Schell said that many partners, especially services-focused partners, should be able to increase their profits under Amplify.

“They will probably make more money than they do today, relative to a services-led engagement,” he said.

Overall, HP plans to spend more money on working with partners as part of Amplify, with much of the increased investment around analytics and training for partners, Schell said. “There are a lot of dollars that are moving into data analytics and into training and certification,” he said.

Data sharing is one of the hallmarks of the new program, HP executives and partners told CRN. HP plans to ask partners to opt-in to share data such as customer purchasing behavior, online sales mix and inventory levels.

The data, which will be subject to privacy and security measures, will be used to help jointly drive improved outcomes with customers--and HP understands that partners will only choose to opt-in if HP is “able to show value,” Schell said. There will be a “quid pro quo” inherent to HP’s proposed collaboration around data, he noted.

HP’s push for data collaboration with its partners is “very unique,” Zarek said.

“Something I haven’t seen anywhere--espoused by any of our other strategic partners--is the value of the data that we are collecting individually as partners,” he said. “Allowing HP to take this data and aggregate it will allow us to do something that all of the consumer internet companies have done--the Googles and the Facebooks and the Amazons--in terms of how they engage on a consumer level. It’s about trying to see if we can build something equivalent, but directed at the business customer. No one’s really done any work in that area. So this is a whole brave new world.”

With the Amplify program, HP also says it is raising its expectations for the online capabilities partners will bring.

While commercial partners will not necessarily be expected to offer online transaction capabilities to their customers, partners will need to have a strong online presence--for example, with video content demonstrating the solutions that can be delivered to customers, Schell said.

As sales have shifted to digital platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, “I think a lot of our partners had to learn the hard way in the last couple of months, about how a gap in your online [presence] or in your marketplace participation can have a really devastating impact,” he said.

Ultimately, the Amplify program recognizes that the business sales environment is no longer just about one-on-one, relationship-based engagements, and that partner programs need to be about more than maximizing sales volumes, Zarek said.

HP Amplify “recognizes that the world has changed dramatically, and that we need to embrace digital in everything that we do,” he said.

Ultimately, “this is the right move,” Zarek said. “Truth be told, we‘re not seeing other vendors making major changes in their channel programs. They’re tweaking and iterating it, bit by bit. But this is a clean break with the traditional model and lays out a new model.”

The launch of the Amplify program in November will come one year into the tenure of members of the senior leadership team HP, including Lores as CEO and Schell as chief commercial officer. The two executives took their current roles on Nov. 1 of last year, at which time HP also launched a new commercial organization led by Schell. That reorganization shifted the company from a three-region organizational structure to a set of 10 geographic markets.

In recent years, HP has “done a good job overall of executing on their vision. This overhaul of their legacy channels program to better align with that vision is a timely decision,” Jones said. “They’ve got their house in order--now it’s time to get the channel programs house in order.”

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