Partners to HP: Take care of business

HP's Australian partners are calling on the vendor to sharpen its channel focus following the dismissal of long-serving CEO and chairman, Carly Fiorina.

Key HP channel partners told ARN they supported the introduction of a new boss - along with its newly combined imaging, printing and PC group - because of the potential to bring increased levels of support, communication and revitalised relationships.

One of the current concerns identified with HP was incoherency across various business divisions.

Brennan IT managing director, David Stevens, said a single management team overseeing both the imaging and PC businesses would bring more alignment to overall market strategy. This would see more attention placed on the channel, he said.

"If HP can get the merger with Compaq happening more smoothly then that would improve supply," Stevens said. "It would also get them back to looking at the strategic direction of the products and ways for the channel to be more effective against brands like Dell."

Synnex managing director, Frank Sheu, agreed merging the two divisions could favour partner relationships. While he said the distributor's dealings with the vendor had always been steady, HP needed to stay efficient and focus on customer care.

"HP has always believed in partnership and customer service, but the challenge is that they do not have a good, integrated structure," he said.

"I feel its internal team has been very unsettled and has not had a consistent or coherent support policy for the channel. I hope the merger of the two business groups will change this situation."

ASI Solutions director, Maree Lowe, was optimistic that communication levels between the channel and HP could improve under a new global boss.

"Speed of communication is absolutely critical because it gives partners an edge when dealing with customers," she said.

Some partners also insisted HP would need to ensure ongoing improvements to its channel programs.

"They are already quite far down the line in developing the channel for their software business and I would still like to see them stay focused on that," Alstom IT managing director, Greg Newham, said. "Bringing hardware business style programs to the software business would also be fantastic."

For Brennan's Stevens, the restructure was an opportunity for the channel to re-examine its relationship with the vendor.

"We are already evaluating how active HP is in its partnership program in terms of training, large business opportunities, pre-sales support, marketing dollars and rebates," he said. "There has been no significant movement there for the past 12-18 months and we are not enjoying any benefit."

Major business opportunities had been difficult to get out of HP, Stevens said.

"At the moment it just feels like they are distracted and have other things to do," he said.

Based on receiving limited support infrastructure in the past, Impact Systems would continue with its strategy of developing an alternate and competitive whitebox business, its managing director, Peter Agamalis, said. "We have spoken to HP about opportunities but they have gone unheard," he said. "So we have to do what's best for us to differentiate ourselves and win the opportunity, be it with HP or our own whitebox product."