HP to resellers: Make print contractual, not transactional

HP Canada IPG chief Lloyd Bryant

HP Canada IPG chief Lloyd Bryant

HP’s been building its managed print services business in the channel for a number of year’s now, but the volume got turned up to 11 at the company’s Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas last month.

From Canadian IPG channel chief Patrick Harrison, to Canadian IPG boss Lloyd Bryant, all the way up to worldwide IPG lead Vyomesh Joshi and even CEO Meg Whitman, the messaging was consistent.

And that message was that channel partners should be looking to make print a contractual, and not transactional, business.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to invest in an HP printing practice,” Bryant said. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in managed print services, and we’re committed to delivering MPS through our channel.”

In his GPC keynote (check out our liveblog), Joshi spent a lot of time running through idea that partners should be thinking about printers as the point of the spear – a piece of hardware that drives a solution that also includes software and services.

The managed print arena is one where HP Canada is definitely looking for more channel help. While it has a strong base of managed print partners, Bryant said that “there’s more opportunity in the Canadian space than there is existing channel capacity.” While his preference is to continue to grow the business of existing partners, he said that sometimes, in some markets, there are opportunities for new partners to come aboard.

“But this is a capabilities- and criteria-based channel,” Bryant said. “We’re not interested in adding partners for the sake of adding partners. They have to be able to deliver.”

One way to grow that partner base would be to reach out to existing IT managed service providers, a slim minority of whom have established managed print services. That’s an effort that’s like to gain real ground in the near future, as HP re-launches its Printelligent acquisition as the way for more IT-focused partners to play in the managed print space. Bryant said that the re-launched service would be U.S.-only at first, but will be coming to Canada.

In the meantime, he said, there’s an opportunity to bring together top managed print practices with top VARs in a partner-to-partner motion to go to market with a more complete and compelling offering.

All the focus on managed print doesn’t mean that hardware becomes unimportant. Bryant said that this year, HP will refresh some 65 per cent of its printer lineup with newer, better, faster and more manageable options. “There is a lot of focus on innovation in IPG,” he said.

And that innovation is likely to find a home. Bryant said that more than one quarter of the printers in businesses today have been in use five years or more. That spells a refresh opportunity for channel partners.

“There’s new technology available that offers better functionality, in smaller footprints, with lower operating costs and a much lower environmental impact,” Bryant said. “There’s a great opportunity for partners to work this refresh.”

To help make that happen, the company is running a go-to-market program dubbed “Mission: Possible.” Sure, that’s a bit of a cheesy name. but underneath that are a number of channel incentives as well as a customer trade-in and trade-up program that includes end-of-lifecycle services for older printers.