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The Top 10 Partner Takeaways From HP Reinvent 2019

From services to security to sustainability, here's what solution providers were talking about at HP's global partner conference in Houston.

Solution providers praised the multitude of innovations unveiled by HP Inc. at Reinvent 2019 in red-hot areas such as security, services and workplace devices.

HP also used the global partner conference--attended by more than 1,400 partners--to roll out enhancements to its channel portals, bring a focus on sustainability and emphasize the need for connecting with younger generations of users.

[Related: HP CEO Weisler On The Shift To Services: 'There Is Really No Alternative']

CRN spoke with a number of solution providers at the conference this week in Houston to get their perspective on the big announcements. What follows are the 10 top partner takeaways from HP Reinvent 2019.

The Fast Pace Of Innovation Continues

Judging by the big announcements from Reinvent 2019, HP is keeping up the tempo on innovation across both its personal systems and print businesses, said Rick Chernick, CEO of Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Camera Corner Connecting Point. New security solutions for PCs and printers, updated conferencing devices and a focus on appealing to younger generations were among the highlights, Chernick said.

"If you look at all of the different innovations that they came out with, it's pretty great," Chernick said. "It fires me up to go home and sell something new to my customers, and come out of here with a good sense of accomplishment."

Terry Joslin, a principal at Waltham, Mass.-based NWN, said that HP is "innovating and on the leading edge" in numerous areas--while their programs for partners are getting better, too. "It's just refreshing. I've been a partner with them for over 25 years, and these are some of the good times," Joslin said. "The leadership is really good. They're focused. And they really do listen to their partners."

Focus On "Everything-As-A-Service"

HP's expansion into Device-as-a-Service (DaaS), building on its efforts around managed print services (MPS), represents a huge growth opportunity for partners, said Matthew Schotten, vice president of managed print solutions at Oklahoma City, Okla.-based ImageNet Consulting.

"Overall we're just excited about HP because their vision is exactly aligned with the direction of our company--which is really 'everything-as-a-service,'" Schotten said. "I think there are a lot of commonalities in the value proposition of printing as-a-service and PC as-a-service. We think there are great synergies from both of those things."

Device-as-a-Service Opportunity

ImageNet, which has rolled out a security-focused solution for customers based around HP's DaaS offering, is optimistic that Device-as-a-Service could have a "faster growth curve" than did MPS, Schotten said. "If we see a fast growth with that, I think our company could see tremendous returns in our business," said Schotten, whose firm won a Partner of the Year award along with the top DaaS partner award from HP at Reinvent 2019.

NWN has also been focusing on DaaS and MPS, and those services are currently "up and to the right," Joslin said. Those services are also "starting to get more technology-enabled" with further development from HP, which is a welcome sign, he said.

At Reinvent 2019, HP said it's seeking to better enable partners to participate in as-a-service businesses with the new HP Integrated Financial Solution. The financing aims to provide HP as-a-service partners with more flexibility to quickly grow a services business. Benefits of the financing option include instant credit approval, automated document management and electronic signature and invoicing.

An increasing number of IT buying decisions are being made by individuals in the millennial generation, and many "don't want to buy a device anymore--they want to buy an outcome," said Andy Jones, CEO of Cleveland-based MCPc.

New DaaS Security Service

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP unveiled a new security service for protecting against malicious files and links on Windows 10 PCs--including for PCs from vendors other than HP. The HP DaaS Proactive Security service uses threat isolation technology to protect endpoints against malware, enabling users to access web links and files in an isolated environment that can't harm an organization's systems.

The security service is available for channel partners to resell, either as part of an HP DaaS contract or as a one-time transactional service combined with an HP DaaS Proactive Management service plan. In addition, the service expands the analytics and reporting of HP's TechPulse software, which to date has focused on proactive identification of device issues and now includes security-specific telemetry. TechPulse is a key element of HP's DaaS offering.

Juan Fernandez, vice president of managed IT services at ImageNet Consulting, cheered the move by HP to go deeper on endpoint security while also adding to the value of the TechPulse software. "No one else is doing this," Fernandez said. "HP already had a great play with TechPulse. But for people who are trying to adopt [TechPulse] into an MSP practice, with HP overlaying it with security, it's a no-brainer."

AI-Driven Security Software

HP also unveiled new software that uses artificial intelligence to block malware in near-real-time, including previously unknown malware. The software, called Sure Sense, will be available on select PCs starting in May. It will use a deep-learning engine to learn what malware looks like and shut the threats down instantly.

Fernandez said that the move deeper into security software by HP—which has already "hardened" the hardware security layer on its PCs—is a smart one.

"What they're doing with AI, that is just far beyond what we've ever seen before," Fernandez said. "This is the active mitigation of attacks on a machine in real time. It's a huge announcement for HP to get into that game. That's not a traditional HP play."

Connecting To Younger Generations

HP used its Reinvent 2019 to highlight the need for partners to consider the changing expectations of the workforce as millennials—and now Gen Z—make up an increasing portion of workers. A discussion between HP CEO Dion Weisler and Michael Gross, vice chairman of coworking giant WeWork, focused on key trends such as the fact that younger generations of workers are less interested in owning and more interested in subscriptions. Meanwhile, a discussion between Enrique Lores, president of HP's imaging and printing business, and Nina Garcia, editor in chief of fashion magazine Elle, looked at trends such as how younger generations have a greater affinity for products that are personalized.

HP is doing a great job of keeping up with key trends from younger generations and sharing those insights with partners, said Allan Doehler, partner alliance manager at Markham, Ontario-based Pivot Technology Solutions.

"A lot of our business is in the enterprise space, and we're looking at storage, servers, networking. But then when you look at the edge it is a completely different animal—a different lifestyle," Doehler said. "I'm glad that they're able to engage with Elle and WeWork, and companies like that. It's incredible. They are very on top of what is going on. They seem to be able to give us the guidance on the markets we need to go into--what we need to look at and where our growth's going to be."

3-D Printing: Challenges And Opportunities

ImageNet has made major investments into being able to provide HP's 3-D printing systems—including both the original Multi Jet Fusion system (focused on printing production-ready parts) and the smaller new systems (which can print in color and are focused on prototyping). "It's a risky business to get into, for HP and us," Schotten said. "But just like HP's committed to it, and made big bets there, we're doing the same."

ImageNet is one of the few MPS providers that has expanded into 3-D printing with HP, Schotten said. The solution provider's investments have included opening a facility in Dallas featuring demo equipment from 3-D printing vendors including HP.

"I'd say 3-D is a little bit like managed IT services--that if you're going to do it, you'd better do it well. I wouldn't dabble in it," Schotten said. "Because if you're just going to dabble in it, you might fail miserably. But with the right commitment to it, I think it's very likely to pay off."

Innovative New Devices

At Reinvent 2019, HP unveiled a number of new devices including the Reverb Virtual Reality Headset, which the company says is targeted for verticals such as health care and for uses such as employee training. HP is touting the Windows Mixed Reality headset as having the highest VR resolution yet among VR devices from major vendors, with resolution of 2,160 x 2,160 per eye, along with a weight of less than a pound.

The Reverb is "half the cost, twice the clarity and two-thirds of the weight" of HP's previously released Windows Mixed Reality Headset, said Alex Cho, president of HP's personal systems business, during Reinvent 2019.

Jones applauded the improvements in the new Reverb headset, which he said should broaden the appeal to customers. MCPc has seen customer interest in VR for health care and training, he said. "It's wonderful that HP is investing in this space and being a thought leader in this space," Jones said. "It's absolutely here to stay."

Meanwhile at Reinvent, HP announced the addition of support for the popular Zoom conferencing solution onto its line of collaboration devices—including on the Elite Slice, a modular desktop computer that can be used for running group calls and conferences. The three HP devices that will be offered with support for Zoom Rooms are the HP Elite Slice G2 (Audio Ready), the HP Elite Slice G2 and the HP Collaboration PC G5. All three are "Zoom-ready out of the box," and include support for in-room video and conferencing displays, HP said.

"We sell videoconferencing, but none of it's perfect yet," Chernick said. If the new Zoom solutions are "truly as easy as demonstrated," the devices could see a lot of demand, he said. "To make it easy, and to make it work decent, that's mission-critical today.”

Partner-Friendly Moves

In a bid to make life easier for partners, HP announced that its Partner First portal and its seller-focused Sales Central platform will be consolidated into a single site. The consolidated sites should "make the engagement model simpler" for partners, said Dave Lobato, head of worldwide digital sales engagement platforms at HP. Whenever partners "have multiple touch points when they conduct their business with us, reducing that helps them to be more efficient and effective," he said.

Starting in April, HP will start to add features from the Partner First portal to the Sales Central site, and features will continue to be added over the following six to eight months. During that time, the Partner First portal will continue to function the same, Lobato said.

Jones said he welcomed the consolidated partner sites--though he said that HP's portals are already comparatively easy to navigate and get information from. With the move, "they're taking 'better' and making it the best," he said.

Overall, Jones said he rates HP highly for its engagement with the channel in recent years. HP has been "staying the course of a channel-first model," he said. "When they say they're committed to the channel, their actions and deeds match the words."

Focus On Sustainability

HP announced an expansion of its sustainability initiative at Reinvent 2019, with a commitment to "forest positive" printing—in which all HP-branded paper will come from trees that are planted to become print paper.

The company also introduced a new energy-efficient printer and toner--with the launch of the HP LaserJet A4 printer and EcoSmart black toner--and pointed to other achievements in carbon emissions reduction (in part through expanded managed print services) and recycling (including the use of recycled plastics).

HP's focus on sustainability continues to expand, particularly as more millennial buyers are "looking for organizations that align with them culturally or philosophically," Jones said. "HP is doing a good job there on thought leadership. There's a financial impact of being a thought leader in the space—better-lasting brand recognition and image with the younger, modern buyer."

Joslin agreed that HP's focus on ecological impacts is an important initiative. "Everybody gives it lip service, but HP's doing it. And doing a lot," he said.

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