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HP PPS Channel Chief Scott Dunsire on outlook for HP channel partners

Amid financial instability and executive turnover, HP PPS Channel Chief Scott Dunsire lays out priorities for the HP channel.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has had a rough couple of years. While its stock price is up almost 20% from a year ago, that's less than half of its three-year high of $49 per share in February 2011. The company, which has been lambasted in the press as an aging tech giant, ended its third quarter with revenue down by 8% compared with the year-ago quarter and forward guidance pointing to a weak 2014. And, in what may be a case of kicking a company when it's down, HP was bounced from the Dow Jones Industrial Average just days ago.

Amid the bad financial news, there's been much turnover in the executive ranks. In August, CEO Meg Whitman moved both Dave Donatelli, the head of the company's Enterprise Group, and Marketing Chief Marty Homlish into new roles. And in June she replaced Todd Bradley, longtime head of the Printing and Personal Systems Group, with Dion Weisler, who had served as senior vice president and managing director of PPS for Asia Pacific and Japan.

We need to use deal registration early as a core growth tool to improve the scale on it and definitely improve the turnaround time.

Scott Dunsire,
channel chief, HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group

For channel partners doing business with PPS, one point of stability has been Scott Dunsire, who last year took the reins as channel chief for the division when it was formed from the combination of the Imaging and Printing Group and the Personal Systems Group. Dunsire is coming up on his seven-year anniversary with HP. Even before the appointment, the vice president and general manager for Americas Channel at PPS was no stranger to the channel, having been originally hired to run the channel organization for HP's Imaging and Printing Group. Dunsire also served as the vice president of channels at Lexmark for seven years.

The PPS Group is all about creating opportunity for the channel, according to Dunsire, as it works to smooth out any remaining wrinkles stemming from the integration and positions its partners for growth.

Dunsire said the PPS Group generates half, or $60 billion, of the company's total annual revenue. Partners generate 90% of PPS revenue, according to the channel chief.

Recently, SearchITChannel sat down with Dunsire to discuss his goals, challenges and what HP channel partners need to know about moving forward with the company during this time of instability.

What are your top three goals for the year and how have they been addressed?

Dunsire: The first and most important goal as we merge this organization together for FY13 [fiscal year 2013] was partner engagement. We had to be very clear with our enterprise sales organization on the direction and role that the channel plays. There was a lot of internal selling that had to go on because there were a significant amount of account changes on the user side when they merged the two big organizations together.

The channel needed to be front and center. My goal was [to not] lose momentum that we built on the PC and printer side. I feel good about the progress we made aligning the organizations. I'll give you a couple of examples.

One is the public sector space. Years ago, they got rid of the dedicated public sector vertical organization in the channel, and we were losing a lot of momentum with partners because public sector is complex; there's a lot of contracts and requirements. … It really does take a special skill set. We were moving further away from our relationships with end-user teams because we didn't have a dedicated team on it.

At the beginning of FY13, I put in a dedicated public sector team with a good number of resources to work with partners, engaging with our end-user sales teams, and going out there and fighting for opportunities in both [the federal] and [state and local governments and education], and we've seen the fruits of our labor pay off.

Another example is around program simplification. We talked about this at our partner conference earlier this year, and some of our partners are just beginning to receive incentive checks from some of the changes in our program.

In the years past, a partner would sign up for a growth accelerator goal, they'd reach their goal, and the partner wouldn't know until sometime later whether or not they hit it. … So partners could never really count on those dollars being available to reinvest back into the business.

So we went to a program that gives the partner a percentage for whatever they sell. So they know exactly how much money they're going to get from HP.

We're also going to make additional changes this November to simplify the program even more. Program simplification has been a big topic for our partners and inside HP.

In fact, simplification is the No. 2 goal. [We've simplified] how we leverage our big-deal pricing programs and how long it takes to get back to partners. We've taken out a lot of layers inside HP from a decision making perspective so we can get answers to the partner faster than we have in the past.

The third goal is putting in place [a Windows] XP refresh strategy. We're working hard this year with our partners to help identify opportunities where we can help customers swap out that XP product base.

It's been a good start for the XP refresh season for our partners over the past six months, and we offer partners sales and technical support to help do that.

Are there things you didn't get to that you're going to push to the forefront?

Dunsire: Of course. One of the things that I don't think we've done a good enough job on that we're going to focus on in FY14 is our deal registration component and leveraging that as a growth tool.

Smaller partners, in particular, feel like they need to be protected when they make the investments, make the sales calls, are part of the planning process, and then they don't reap the benefit when the price gets shopped.

We need to use deal registration early as a core growth tool to improve the scale on it and definitely improve the turnaround time.

Another thing we're going to focus on is leveraging the strength of our strategic partners. There are only so many partners in the market that we can cover face to face. The question is, how do we win with the most strategic partners -- ones who are willing to work with HP across the board; have the same goals and objectives; have an appetite for growth; and see opportunities around mobility, workstations, thin clients, management services?

The question is, what as a manufacturer can you afford to support? We can only invest so much. My feeling is that you have to invest with the partners who will work strategically with HP and have an eye for growth.

The last area of focus is around our strategy for inkjet in the office. We've introduced some new products like the Officejet Pro X, and we're working very hard on our document solution suite to take advantage of more cloud-based applications. We think that there's a significant opportunity in the marketplace to drive Officejet Pro X into the commercial space, SMB [small and medium-sized businesses] in particular.

We introduced the product months ago and we're just ramping up production, but there's not enough focus on it from a partner perspective so we're going to put a lot more emphasis on it in FY14.

What would you say to HP channel partners about the declining revenue figures and the replacement of top executives at the company? Also, what concerns are you hearing from partners?

Dunsire: I just returned from a 150-partner event in Atlanta yesterday so I have a fresh perspective. But first, when you look at overall results, we don't break that down by specific performance by route to market. I will tell you that we are seeing growth in PCs and printing in the commercial channels. And we are seeing market share gains in certain areas, and I'm encouraged by what we're seeing in the marketplace from a HP PPS perspective. There's momentum building in the channel on the PC side, and we're very happy with the results of our partners in both the printing and PC sides.

As far as executive changes, this has not been a secret. We are in Year 2 of our turnaround, and there are going to be some people changes, but our strategy and commitment to the channel, in particular, has not changed. In fact, it's gotten more intense inside the walls at HP.

Dion Weisler ran the PPS business for Asia Pacific, and before that he was at Lenovo, and he actually started his career in distribution in Australia. He comes from the channel and has a great perspective regarding what it's going to take. So I would tell partners that there's great and experienced leadership running PPS worldwide.

I would tell them that Dion is extremely focused on competing on certain price points in the marketplace when it comes to PPS, PCs in particular. You could say that we do very well in certain bands, and we might not do as well in others. Dion is very focused [on delivering] the right product to the right customer at the right time.

There have been leadership changes, but I've been in the channel for the last seven years, so the partner's voice inside of HP -- I'm delivering that. Seven years -- that's pretty stable leadership from a channel perspective.

Where is the opportunity today for HP PPS channel partners?

Dunsire: There's significant opportunity around the XP refresh that we talked about earlier. The PC is not dead. In order to do work, you need a PC.

Tablets are exploding; there's no question about it. There's significant opportunity around mobility, especially from a partner perspective around services, deployment and management around the application set.

Another big opportunity for partners is managed print services. The transactional printer business is not growing. Managed print services are growing double digits and will continue to grow over the years. And it's a services-based business for partners.

If partners are looking to add value, there's opportunity around document management, workflow and content management. We just introduced 12 new MFPs [multifunction printers], so our product lineup is as good as it's ever been.

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