HP Launches Program To Help Partners Navigate Split

Hewlett-Packard Monday kicked off its Global Partner Conference by rolling out a robust program to help its solution providers navigate its split into two new Fortune 50 companies.

Dubbed HP Partner Navigator, the program includes HP-funded headcount for the company's top several hundred partners to ensure a smooth transition as HP splits in two. It also includes expanded HP call center support for tens of thousands of partners to handle any operations-related issues around the split for partners buying HP products through distributors.

"We want to ensure that the transition from Hewlett-Packard to Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. is as smooth as possible," said Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing for Partner One Strategy. "The Navigator program is one of the key investments to make the transition successful."

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Effective Nov. 1, HP will be split into a $57 billion enterprise computing business, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and a $57 billion printing and personal systems company, HP Inc.

Kris Rogers, senior vice president of partner and product management at PCM, a $1.5 billion solution provider that counts HP as its largest vendor partner, said the Navigator program will ensure the split does not disrupt business for partners.

"This is such a thoughtful, strategic, proactive thing to do," she said. "I was speechless when I learned about this program. It is just the right thing to do. Everything happening with the Navigator and the split is very cool. HP is massively organized and very proactive. I am not losing a minute's sleep over the separation. I think it will be a net positive for us."

The additional investment HP is making to ensure "back-office" sales feeds and functions are seamless is a huge "win-win" for partners and HP, said Rogers.

HP, for its part, said it is determined to avoid what it called the sales blip that occurred last fall when IBM sold its x86 server business to Lenovo. In that case, Eitenbichler said, on day one of the hand-off a "large number of partners in a significant number of countries" couldn't place an order.

"That is the scenario we obviously absolutely want to avoid," said Eitenbichler. "We want to absolutely assure that on Nov. 1 any partner that wants to purchase Hewlett-Packard Enterprise product or HP Inc. product can place the order as seamlessly as before and can address their customer needs as quickly as before."

IBM, for its part, said it was "not aware" of any glitches in the system when it handed off the server business to Lenovo. ’IBM worked closely with Lenovo in the days and weeks leading up to the handoff," said an IBM spokesman. "As with any business transaction of this magnitude there are going to be issues. IBM is not aware of any glitches in the system that would have prevented IBM partners from placing orders. As always, IBM works closely with any partner to resolve any issues they may have in a timely manner.’

The HP-funded reps, meanwhile, will work with HP partner account operations to make sure electronic sales and reporting functions go smoothly. That's because partners will have to set up two separate sales reporting functions for the two separate companies.

Eitinbichler said partners placing orders through distribution are not as concerned about the sales handoff. "Someone buying from distribution will see minimal impact to their business process," he said. "Someone buying directly really has to think through how to manage the transition."

HP also will have tools available on the HP Unison Portal for partners to navigate the transaction. "Both companies will maintain their half of the portal with exactly the same technology, features and look and feel," said Eitenbichler. "Over time, you would expect the portals to evolve based on the partner sets."

Vincent Brissot, vice president of worldwide channel marketing for HP's Printing and Personal Systems business, said HP is doing "everything humanly possible" to make sure nothing "breaks apart" when the Unison portal is split in two.

"When we split into two companies, we want to make sure we have the same level of reliability in the tools, systems and operations for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and HP Inc.," said Brissot.