HP looks to ease partner path to split with Navigator program

Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing strategy for PartnerOne at HP.

Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing strategy for PartnerOne at HP.

LAS VEGAS – Needless to say, one of the top partner concerns coming into this week’s HP Global Partner Conference here is what exactly the company’s upcoming split into two very large companies with two very large channels is going to mean to the company’s partner base. HP offered a first glimpse into how the company plans to support its partners through the transition by sharing details of a program it calls HP Partner Navigator.

Navigator is a new partner program that aims to “make it as smooth as possible” for partners as HP goes through its historic split-up, said Patrick Eitenbichler, director of marketing strategy for PartnerOne at HP.

The biggest component to Navigator will not be seen directly by the majority of HP’s partners – and if it proves successful, its impact will go largely unnoticed. Under Navigator, HP is funding resources at top solution providers with whom HP has direct relationships, as well as with all of the company’s distribution partners. Those HP-funded resources will be in charge of making sure those partners and disties with whom HP transacts directly are on top of changes coming as a result of the split and that their systems are ready for the changes coming when HP “flips the switch” and becomes two distinct companies.

Such systematic issues will be the key challenges from a partner program perspective in splitting the HPs, said Jos Brenkel, HP Printing and Personal Systems channel chief.

“Complexity [in this split] is not in where my sales people sit. It’s all in the systems,” Brenkel said. “We’ve spend a good amount of time building one channel structure, and now we’ve got to make sure that as we pull that apart, we keep what’s good. The challenge is all around operations.”

The gist of Partner Navigator is around making sure that partners with direct transactional relationships with HP are ready to roll with the new systems and processes of the two HPs when the split is complete, but smaller partners – those who purchase primarily from distribution – are not left out of the program. Eitenbichler said HP was “beefing up” its partner support line and publishing a series of FAQs related to the split to the company’s partner program as well.

“For those partners, we expect to see a lot more questions closer to the split taking effect,” Eitenbichler said.

With HP’s own transition team in place and managing the internal details of the split, and Partner Navigators defined at most of its large partners and distributors, Brenkel said the focus of “99 per cent” of HP’s employees remains firmly on the company’s current and future direction.

Internally, though, there are still questions to be answers. While Brenkel said that HP’s Unison partner portal framework will remain intact and will ultimately be owned by one side and made available to the other, not all parts will necessarily remain in place. For example, he said that he doesn’t want to have the same deal registration engine or system as will Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. Ultimately, for Brenkel and his team, it comes down to making choices about which changes are “day one” changes, and which ones are “end-state” changes, taking special care not to led “end-state” decisions impact the company’s ability to operate as smoothly as possible for partners on day one after the split.

“We’re trying to look at where commonality makes sense,” Brenkel said.

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