Compaq restructures channel amid HP merger

Compaq restructures channel amid HP merger

Compaq is powering ahead with significant changes to its channel structure despite ongoing merger talks with Hewlett-Packard.

Compaq began developing the new channel model, which positions resellers around technology specialisations, 12 months ago; well before last month's announcement that HP would acquire the Texas-based manufacturer.

According to Richard Sumich, Compaq's manager of channel marketing, the restructure hopes to provide some consistency with Compaq's channel strategy around the world.

"The days where we could operate as an island are over," he told ARN.

The new worldwide initiative, which is being launched first in Australia, will see Compaq's network of value-added partners accredited according to their skills. The framework is designed to recognise the breadth of the partners' capabilities across product sales, consultancy, solutions development and service delivery.

Despite the vendor's pending merger with HP, which will likely see the overhaul of both companies' existing partner programs, Compaq felt a sense of urgency to reshape its current strategy to maintain optimal relationships with its customers and partners.

"Under our old partner program, it was difficult for customers to ascertain what specific areas Compaq's partners specialised in," Sumich said. "Our new channel partner program reflects the diversification we are seeing in the channel."

According to Compaq, its partners will benefit from the new model because it allows them to present to their customers evidence of their skills and expertise in particular areas, and the scope of these skills.

"We had to move beyond [the existing tiers] to a different level of branding for the partner, a different level of commitment," he said. "Compaq recognises that our partners' specialisations are their core differentiator."

According to Sumich, Compaq's existing partners will likely be pleased with the recognition they will receive under the new program. Likewise, the new accreditation fields will set distinct goals for partners wanting to diversify.

"We believe the program will encourage partners to develop specialised skills in industry standard technologies," Sumich said.

Meanwhile existing accreditations will be valid, which will see a number of partners eligible for new a status without further investment.

While Sumich was unwilling to reveal the revenue commitments and bottom-line investment required by partners under the new strategy, he denied resellers would be less inclined to make the investment to become a higher status partner because of the impending merger.

"Nothing has changed inside Compaq [since the merger announcement]," Sumich said. "This strategy is critical to our partners and customers today. We're ensuring our partners have the value proposition to compete in the space they're going for."

At the SMB end of the market Compaq is hoping to leverage the "local knowledge" of resellers with the value a multinational brand name brings to the table. This is the same philosophy it used to launch the concept of its failed retail franchise operation, Customer Connect.

As part of the restructuring, Compaq will amend the Partner Locator section of its Web site to indicate the new specialisations as well as make changes to its newsletter, forum, council and incentive program communications it has with its partners.

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