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LAS VEGAS -- At Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Global Partner Conference (GPC) 2015, being held here this week, one of the vendor's first orders of business was to convey a "keep calm and carry on" message to partners as it prepares to split into Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) and HP Inc. (HPI) later this year.
On Day 1 of the conference today, HP made a flurry of announcements: the rollout of programs to help partners navigate the company split, a four-pronged initiative to help partners transform to service-led organizations, and insight around upcoming changes to the PartnerOne program.
With the company separation in mind, HP announced the HP Navigator Program, which has two components that together are designed to help partners of all sizes get answers to their questions about the company split as well as make any changes to its operational systems, for example, order management, sales reporting and EDI.
One component of HP Navigator targets the vendor's top 200 partners, companies that buy directly from HP, such as distributors and large resellers. HP will fund a dedicated on-site person to help the partner make the necessary changes to its operational systems to transition from working with a single vendor to working with two vendors, HPE and HPI, by Nov. 1, the target date of the official splitting of the company, according to Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing for HP PartnerOne marketing.
The second part of the HP Navigator program is designed to ensure that all HP partners get answers to any questions related to doing business with HP as separates into two companies. The vendor plans on beefing up staff at dedicated HP Partner Support Centers to ensure that partners get their questions answered quickly. Partners will also find related content and FAQs in the PartnerOne Unison portal. Partners can expect to see portal content and support staff available in a couple of months.
"We want to make it as smooth and easy as possible for our partners to transition to the two companies," Eitenbichler said.
Vendors know that any type of company disruption could lead partners astray or make them easy prey to competitors. With that in mind, HP is rolling out HP PartnerOne Alliance, a program designed to build a bridge between HPE and HPI and reassure partners that doing business with the two companies will be easy and materially beneficial.
"PartnerOne Alliance is about shared benefits for partners," said Vincent Brissot, vice president of worldwide channel marketing for HP Printing and Personal Systems (PPS).
More specifically, the program will address issues around business, communication, deals and investments, for partners doing business with both HPE and HPI, with the intention of encouraging partners to stay in the HP family. The PartnerOne Alliance will be available to all Platinum, Gold, Silver and distribution partners.
Brissot intimated that partners that sell cross-portfolio solutions will get leads on a priority basis, for example. The two companies will also develop joint sales and marketing initiatives around selected solution sets.
"It's a way to ensure that we don't lose any business and not work in a siloed mode that would remove opportunities for the channel partner; it's actually the opposite," Brissot said.
Looking ahead to 2016, HP also told partners that it intends to hold main partner events together, to avoid any disruption for partners that work with both companies. HP GPC 2016, for example, will be a joint company event with separate days devoted to the separate companies.
Transformation to services
A core message on the first day of HP GPC 2015 was that HP will help HPE partners convert their businesses to a more of a services-led business model and will offer tools and support around consulting services, support services, training and certifications, and learning credits.
Eitenbichler outlined four key areas – hybrid IT, big data, security and the digital workplace – and three initiatives designed to help partners develop new business opportunities.
For starters, HP will make intellectual property (IP) from its consulting team available to partners. HP IP includes technical training, HP processes, as well as information from its Centers of Excellence.
"This IP will help open more doors to partners who might not otherwise have the consulting capability," said Eitenbichler.
HP is also moving away from current product-focused sales certifications for servers, storage, networking and cloud to a single sales certification that contains content around hybrid IT, big data, security and the digital workplace.
The new sales certification will focus 100% on enabling partner sales reps to identify and pursue opportunities.
The new sales certification requirements will become effective Nov. 1, 2015, for the following year's requirements. The sales certification requirements published Nov. 1, 2014, will remain in effect and partners have until Aug. 31, 2015, to complete those sales certification requirements, according to HP.
HP also announced the new HP Helion Partner Marketplace, a cloud services marketplace to enable HP partners to sell infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).
Automated tools will be available to help partners to sell and provision the cloud services and invoice customers from the HP Helion Partner Marketplace, which is scheduled to be up and running in April. Partners will also be able to access a control panel from which they can manage customers, upgrade services, cross-sell, etc.
Partner program changes
It's inevitable that as HP splits into two companies, the vendor will eventually unveil two separate partner programs, one for HPE and another for HPI. According to HP, the PartnerOne program name will be replaced by two new partner programs, each with a new name. The PartnerOne name will remain part of the new PartnerOne Alliance program.
Some changes that current PPS partners can expect to see take effect in 2016 were outlined by Brissot and focus on moving away from a transaction-based model and toward a contractual-based model.
HPI will have one partner program with its own brand identity and a single tier with four tracks: transactional, value, alliance and OEM.
"We want to ensure that smaller partners that are highly skilled and technical who today may feel like HP PPS is very volume-centric and might not consider us as their primary vendor now understand that there's a much easier track for them to get into the partner program at the highest stages," Brissot said. Partners will be able to play in more than one track, he added.
The transactional track is revenue- and volume-based; the value track targets partners that bring a high level of expertise and development around solutions such as managed print services, mobility and IT as a service; the alliance track is geared toward partners that develop applications or software based on HP technology; and the OEM track is for partners that embed HP components into their own devices.
Brissot referred to alliance track partners as a different breed of channel partner that, from a PPS standpoint, found it difficult to find a place in the existing PartnerOne structure. "We understand that and in the future as technology moves to 3-D printing and everything as a service, we want to make sure that we have the right skills sets, the right support, systems and applications behind that," he said.
HP also announced a dedicated mobility certification program that's designed to help partners move to a more business-centric, outcome-focused conversation with customers.
The company will also announce 10 new Sales Plays that target verticals and are specific to HPI business outcomes. Sales Plays are a training and sales tool. In this case, the Sales Plays will be designed to help partners have the right conversations to position HPI solutions in the marketplace.
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