HP targets key technology areas for partner growth

Hewlett-Packard Co. is making another round of enhancements to its PartnerOne reseller program, and has identified the key growth opportunities for the channel where it will offer further incentives and rewards to help partners drive new business.

The program enhancements, which come into effect Nov. 1, build on the changes announced at HP’s Global Partner Conference in February and on the further modifications announced in June said Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing for HP PartnerOne strategy.

“We continue to be focused on making PartnerOne more simple, predictable and profitable for our partners,” said Eitenbichler.

HP’s new top-tier partner level – Platinum Partner – was announced previously, and now partner designations for the tiers have been released. Platinum Partners will be able to further differentiate themselves by marketing their designation in Converged Infrastructure, Software or Printing & Computing Systems. A Gold or Silver Partner can also display specific specializations on their badge in areas such as networking or workstations.

HP is promising more predictable compensation including, as previously announced, stackable benefits and rewards on sales achievements from the first unit sold. Eitenbichler said the PartnerOne compensation matrix for fiscal 2014 has now been posted in the partner portal, so partners can look up requirements and incentives.

Special bonuses will also be available around strategic product lines, which Eitenbichler identified as blade systems, Virtual Connect and CloudSystems on the server side, 3Par and StoreOnce on the storage side, and wireless networking on the networking side.

On the specialization front, HP’s software group now has a Platinum-level Software specialization to go with the Enterprise Group’s Platinum-level Converged Infrastructure specialization.  Under enterprise, there’s a new gold specialization in Cloud Builder, and new gold and silver specializations for ServiceOne Enterprise. Software gets new gold and silver specializations for Vertica and a new solver specialization for Autonomy, as those acquisitions are brought fully under the PartnerOne umbrella. Printing and Personal Systems also gets a new ServiceOne Printing and Computing gold specialization, and an enhanced Managed Print gold specialization.

The list of specializations are a mix of solution-based and product-based, and Eitenbichler said HP will continue to place more emphasis on solution-based selling by the channel.

“There will continue to be customers that want solutions from a reseller, but if the partner doesn’t have a foundation in products and understand how they can be architected they can’t come up with the best possible solution,” said Eitenbichler. “We’ll never move completely away from products, but we’ll add more solutions going forward. We want partners to be able to come with a comprehensive solution and not be limited to specific products.”

To reduce training time for partners, HP is splitting its certifications into roles — architect, integrator and administrator – to better reflect the roles of the employees of its channel partners on the ground.

“In the past (the certifications) were all mushed together,” said Eitenbichler. “But an architect spends 99 per cent of their time focused on architecting the solution; they don’t need to know what the blinking light does. We can basically cut their training in half.”

Finally, HP has updated the PartnerOne partner portal with improved navigation, and making it easier to access commonly-used tools such as the configuration tool and marketing depot.

It’s been a lot of program changes for HP this year, but Eitenbichler said it has been one string of consistent enhancements designed to make the way HP does business more predictable. Going forward, he said HP doesn’t see making structural changes. There may be additional solution-based specializations but they would be additions, not taking away elements of the program.

He did hint though that a further simplification of HP’s channel strategy, beyond PartnerOne, may be coming.

“We have AllianceOne for ISVs, CloudAgile for service providers, and PartnerOne for resellers,” said Eitenbichler. “We understand partners now have different business models, and right now they need multiple agreements with HP. We definitely plan on simplifying that.”

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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