3 min read

HP splits into two, but launches programs to keep partners working with both companies

Channel Strategy

LAS VEGAS – We’ve known for a few months that Hewlett-Packard Co. will be splitting into two companies – HP Inc. and HP Enterprise. Now we’re finding out who gets custody of the children, and who will only see them on alternate weekends and holidays.

Actually, what HP executives announced at the company’s Global Partner Conference this week is more akin to joint custody. In a pre-briefing before the partner conference, HP channel executives outlined the channel programs for partners in the lead-up and post-split period, and much of the programs are designed to encourage, and make it easy, for partners to do business with both new companies.

Effective Nov. 1, HP will become two separate Fortune 50 publicly-traded companies. Current CEO Meg Whitman will head HP Enterprise, which will include the services and software business. Dion Weisler, currently executive vice-president of HP’s printing and personal systems business, will lead that group as a separate company, HP Inc.

To help partners navigate the change, Patrick Eitenbichler, director of PartnerOne strategy with HP, said HP will have two primary programs through the transition period, under the HP Partner Navigator umbrella. The first program is for the top 100 partners that do business with HP directly (and not through distribution).

“We want to make sure they have operational resources wo we’ll be funding headcount for them (on the ground inside the business) to help them manage the transition,” said Eitenbichler.

For all other partners, HP will be putting additional resources into its partner support centres.

“This will me more account managers and people that can answer questions,” said Eitenbichler. “We’ve spoken to our smaller partners and more them it’s a non-event; they buy through distribution so we don’t’ expect much of an impact. But we want to have the resources available”

For the post-merger period, HP is working on a concept that company executives are comparing to the Star Alliance, a frequent flier program for different airlines. Vincent Brissot, vice-president of channel marketing for HP PartnerOne Alliance, said the program will launch on Nov. 1, 2016.

“We want partners to understand we’re making it easy for them to work with both HP Enterprise and HP Inc. Partners selling across both companies will get increased benefits, so life gets better for you if you’re able to play across both companies,” said Brissot. “You won’t see another program in the industry that recognizes your competency and work across two companies.”

More program details will be announced, but it will focus in on three areas:

  • Deals and business growth: Each company will run its own demand generation programs, but often the leads that come in are broader than the program’s focus. If HP Inc. gets leads for HP Enterprise business, these leads will be shared with the top partners working with both companies. “We’ll make sure partners that sell both get priority access to leads we’re uncovering,” said Brissot.
  • Growth and investment: Both companies will jointly go to market on select campaigns where it makes sense in a solution area, and the MDF spending guide will be evolved to help partners promote these joint campaigns and solutions.
  • Leads to communications and visibility: Two separate companies shouldn’t mean it will cost twice as much for partners to work with HP. Select events such as the Global Partner Conference and Discover will still be one event. “We’ll make sure partner see we’re talking the talk and walking the walk,” said Brissot.

For distributor Avnet Canada, the split will be relatively seamless and should mean good things for Avnet and its partners said Brian Aebig, general manager for Avnet Canada.

“We deal primarily with the new HP Enterprise, and 100 per cent of their efforts, their decisions and their investments will now be in areas directly applicable to Avnet,” said Aebig. “Our partners tend to play both sides of the house. Change is always a bit difficult and creates some uneasiness, but  there’s a general sense of optimism as well.”

Our coverage of HP’s Global Partner conference continues throughout the week.