Partners still don’t know all HP does: DiFranco

LAS VEGAS – As partners wrapped their heads around yet another Partner One overhaul and realignment at Hewlett-Packard Co.‘s (NYSE: HPQ) Global Partner Conference, Americas channel chief Stephen DiFranco (pictured above) promised no more major changes are on the horizon.

“We’re trying to do this in a way where we don’t have to change it a lot,” said DiFranco. “Partners have a business to run. I expect this to last a long time.”

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The new model, which sees the program standardized as much as possible rather than be segmented by individual business units, is much simpler and more linear than before, DiFranco said in an interview with Computer Dealer News. And most importantly, partners can now understand how much money they’re going to make.

“If we believe what partners are telling us, they want to visibly understand how much they’re going to make, and we’ve achieved that with this reorganization,” said DiFranco. “We’ll stay with it for some time.”

Another positive of the reorganization is that the channel is now owned at the highest executive level within HP than it ever has been before, just one step away from the CEO, giving the program a level of stability and executive support it hasn’t had before. The reorganization brought DiFranco back to a channel leadership role, with responsibility for the channel and alliances for HP in the Americas. The role involves making sure the countries have the right channel sales people and policies in place to meet their sales objectives. One thing that has struck him so far is that many partners don’t have a sense of the breadth of the markets HP places in, from big data software to servers and storage to tablets.

“They don’t know all we do,” said DiFranco. “We need to do more to get the product message out.”

There is a lot of room for partners to move into adjacent markets with HP, said DiFranco. If you sell storage, you can probably sell servers. If you’re selling PCs you’re probably selling printers.

“We’re one of the few manufacturers that plays across a broad enough product line that a VAR could literally build their entire business around us,” said DiFranco. “A part of our product strategy is to make sure a VAR has the ability to complete a system with HP and have enough products to be successful. We design our lineup to enable franchise partnerships. I don’t think everyone ever thinks of it that way.”

In her keynote address to partners, HP CEO Meg Whitman drew cheers for a firm commitment that taking channel business direct will not be tolerated at HP. This proclamation wasn’t necessarily driven by any particular incidents of conflict, said DiFranco, but rather the importance of codifying policy in an organization as large and complex as HP.

“With an organization as large, if we have a policy it should be written down,” said DiFranco. “It started in technology services, and we felt it was important to do it across the entire business. It’s about what we expect for behaviour from our partner account managers, and people who call into global and enterprise accounts, how they should treat situations, and what kind of interaction they should have. It’s a good set of policies.”

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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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