Is It Too Late For HP's Whitman To Mend Channel Fences?

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In addition to laying down new rules of engagement, Whitman is driving efforts to make HP simpler and easier to work with. The first steps came last March when HP combined its PC and printer businesses and formed the Enterprise Group, an amalgamation of Enterprise Severs, Storage and Networking (ESSN), Technology Services and the global accounts sales organization. Then HP found that its internal systems were woefully outdated and starting using to manage partners.

Now HP is splitting its channel into separate divisions for the Printing and Personal Systems (PPS) division and the Enterprise Group, each with its own sales executives and partner business managers. The new model replaces HP's Solution Partners Organization (SPO), which debuted in 2004 as a group that unified HP business units but was quietly disbanded last year after the formation of PPS and the Enterprise Group.

HP said it is switching to a bifurcated channel so partner management can be handled directly by the PPS and Enterprise Group units. Greater efficiency is the goal: Without the SPO acting as an intermediary between the business units and the partner selling to the customer, the thinking is that HP will be more nimble and quicker to respond to business opportunities.

"If you are both a PPS and Enterprise Group partner—and a lot of partners are=you will have two partner leads to coordinate with," Whitman told CRN. "But this is going to make it easier to do business with us than it was when we had five different business units [working under the SPO], each with their own different set of strategies and products."

Many partners are anxious to see if someone will step up and stand out as the channel's fiery advocate within the organization.

HP said Sue Barsamian, senior vice president and general manager of global sales and operations for HP's Enterprise Group, and Jos Brenkel, senior vice president of worldwide sales strategy and the Project Management Office of HP's PPS unit, are responsible for the channel as part of their broad global sales roles. Serving as the de facto channel chiefs are Dan Tindall, vice president of worldwide PPS channel sales, and Jesse Chavez, vice president of worldwide Enterprise Group channel sales.

NEXT: Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

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