Paul Hunter: Biggest Accomplishments As HPE Global Channel Chief In The First Year

Stellar Growth For Partners

Paul Hunter, a 17-year HPE veteran who celebrated his first year in the top channel job last fall, says partner sales grew at a strong clip in 2018.

"We had a good growth year in 2018," said Hunter. "The partner business grew faster than the rest of our business. It grew in all regions and in all our strategic product categories and services. We really had a stellar 2018. We look to continue that in 2019."

Hunter, one of the driving forces behind bringing the breakthrough GreenLake pay-per-use model to channel partners, said it has been a "privilege" to lead the HPE channel offensive.

"It is an exhilarating, thrilling, fascinating, stimulating, provocative job," said Hunter, who at one time was a business unit sales leader in the United Kingdom for HPE. "I have worked at the company a long time and I feel like a lot of the experience I have gained during that time is very relevant to this role. I am enjoying that."

HPE Partner Experience, Profitability Is On The Rise

Under Hunter's leadership, Hewlett Packard Enterprise's vendor benchmark over time scores have risen from 6.76 at the start of 2018 to 6.87 at the end of the year, according to a global partner survey by Canalys, a U.K.-based channel consulting company.

HPE reached the number one spot in vendor benchmark over time scores in November 2018 with a score of 6.91 taking the number one overall ranking ahead of Cisco at 6.85; and Dell EMC and Lenovo both at 6.54.

Key to HPE's rising scores is its high score in margin retention and profitability.

"One of the core propositions we have for the partners is they make great profits with us," says Hunter. "We invest a huge amount of dollars in both rebate/MDF and additional partner enablement training and front end margin. There is a very healthy profit ecosystem for the HPE partner community- which ever part of the portfolio they want to play with."

The GreenLake Channel Game Changer

Hunter played a key role in what partners have called the first and only software-powered pay-per-use model built exclusively for partners.

The GreenLake Flex Capacity pay-per-use model for partners was powered by a whopping five times the rebate incentive partners would get on a traditional capital expenditure deal.

HPE took partner profitability on GreenLake pay-per-use to "a whole other level with the opportunity to make 17 percent rebate," said Hunter. "That is a really, really significant opportunity for partners to transform the profitability of their business if they are able to successfully sell services led consumption which requires skill."

HPE United Kingdom partner Westcoast recently closed the biggest GreenLake deal yet- a blockbuster multi-million dollar deal. The Westcoast deal is twice the size of any other GreenLake deal.

"What we have seen is the partners that have been particularly successful are the ones that have great managed services offerings," said Hunter. "They know how to sell services. The extension of the consumption model is one they are able to make. They are the ones where we have seen the earliest signs of success."

Next Generation Quoting-Configuration Tools For Partners

Among the biggest breakthroughs in reducing total cost of sales for partners with better tools during Hunter's first year in the top channel job are a Next Generation Quoting (NGQ) software tool.

NGQ- which is in the process of being rolled out- provides advisory based intelligent quotation recommendations for partners. The artificial intelligence NGQ capabilities effectively steers configurations in cases where supply could be constrained and even proposes optimized performance offerings.

The NGQ is being teamed another HPE quoting breakthrough referred to as One Configuration Advanced (OCA). That OCA tool provides a single consistent configuration tool across the entire HPE portfolio including companies that have been acquired.

"Now we have a consistent experience for whatever part of our portfolio you are architecting for," says Hunter."What it does is eliminate configuration and architectural errors by having the right rules engine in place. So you eliminate the instances of customers getting something they didn't anticipate or a partner submitting an order that does not meet some of our architectural criteria. "

Last but not least, HPE has introduced Voyager – which has automated rebate claims for partners. "We now have over 70 percent of the claims globally are done without manual intervention," says Hunter. "That makes it easier for the partner to do business with us."

Stepped Up Technical Enablement

Hunter has led the charge on a stepped-up technical enablement for HPE's 80,000 global partners. That technical enablement investment is key given the all-out innovation offensive at HPE that includes acquisitions like software-defined data fabric networking provider Plexxi and artificial intelligence/machine learning big data software provider BlueData.

"We are putting increased investment into technical enablement into the channel," says Hunter. "At the Technical Solutions Summit in March we will be making some announcements about the investments we are making and how we are going to be taking technical enablement to partners to another level."

One step HPE is taking is building out its competency framework for technologists. "The key for us is how do we help them invest in those technologists and help them gain the skills they need in a world where we are seeing the prevalence of artificial intelligence whether it be at the edge or the data center," said Hunter.

Also key for partners is a focus on business outcomes, said Hunter. "Our portfolio is getting increasingly sophisticated and it requires expertise to bring those solutions – linked to business outcomes - to life on behalf of customers," he said."We are no longer selling on features and benefits. We are selling solutions linked to business outcomes and our partners are doing the same."

A New International Program

With globalization reshaping the channel landscape, Hunter is leading the charge on a new international partner program aimed at making it easier to sell in multiple countries.

Under the new pilot program – which was launched just two months ago, HPE is working with six partners that have Platinum status in more than three countries.

"We are working with them on how do we make international business easier to transact," said Hunter. "Partners are very positive that we are helping to facilitate international business. We have seen where we are able to do that with good growth, but we also need to be mindful to properly service global customers. The partner needs global capabilities and needs to be able to deliver with a customer experience that is first rate independently of the country it is being delivered to."

Hunter said he is "excited" about the potential for the international program and other advances in partner experience coming this year.

"We have a lot we can deliver this year," he said. "My feeling is we are getting better and better, faster and faster. I have a degree of excitement about what we can do and the work we can do for partners."