HPE rethinks technical enablement and certification with HPE Tech Pro Community

HPE looks to bring partners more closely into HPE’s own technical communities, introduce a broader type of solution focused credentialing system, and reward both individual techs and partner companies for achievements.

Today, at the Technical Solutions Summit in Paris, the largest technical event on the IT calendar, HPE is announcing the global launch of the new HPE Tech Pro Community. It is comprised of three parts: a rethought approach to training and technical pedagogy; the beginning of a new system of rewards for partner presales professionals; and access to online and in-person community and networking events

“Tech Pro does a couple things differently,” said Brian Beneda, Senior Manager, Global Technical Enablement at HPE. “First, it brings together a lot of what we have done around tech enablement and put it together in one place. A tech sees all the tools, resources, training and peer-to-peer tools, all at their fingerprints in one place. Second, as the majority of HPE revenue is channel, we want them to feel they have insider access to HPE, so we are inviting them to be part of our HPE family. We are making a commitment to do what we do for our internal workforce, to make them feel they have unprecedented access to HPE. That’s what is unique. Many vendors have channel technical enablement, but only HPE is integrating it into our own field organization at this level.”

Beneda said that the catalyst for this change in HPE policy is the shift in how customers have shifted the buying IT, from component parts, purchased by the IT department, to business outcomes, purchased by Line of Business units.

“This has led to the growth of cloud, hybrid cloud and software-defined markets, as well as things like AI, the Internet of Things, and hyperconverged,” he stated. “These are all complex technical environments, and they require a technical solution architect. HPE understands that having a technical solution architect in front of the customer is critical – whether they are in our channel or our field organization. So are creating this Tech Pro program to establish a value proposition why these people  would want to make investments with HPE.”

HPE Tech Pro Community will be the umbrella brand for all pre-sales or technical activity within HPE. It was originally created in the Asia Pacific and Japan region a little over a year ago, in what has amounted to an extended pilot.

“We have had really good responses from that region,” Beneda said. “The community has both online and networking manifestations at technical events, and the reaction to that has been strong. Partners said that it was a lot easier to find tools and resources inside HPE. They also really like being included in our technical communities. The bottom line was that after we implemented this, we saw significant incremental growth in both revenue and pipeline in our channel.”

The networking component – Connect Learn and Grow – includes both exclusive online discussion forums to facilitate global collaboration and communication, as well as access to invitation-only in-person networking opportunities.

“We have had a longstanding community for a long time,” Beneda said. “That’s not new. The difference is the level of access, rubbing shoulders with our field sales people and our product engineers.”

The new technical certification system has a different philosophy than the training HPE has offered partners until now – and is intended to complement that system.

“We have had server, storage and data centre ASEs [Advanced Solution Experts] focused on product areas, where the deeper a partner is certified, the more benefits they get,” Beneda indicated. “What we are doing here that’s different is that instead of staying with product portfolio we flip it. We will keep some of those product certifications because we don’t want to disenfranchise that community, but for a year we have already been on the path to reset solution architect skills across these things for a hybrid world. This new set of architecture certs starts with customer business requirements and works BACK to the technology. We think that the IT marketplace will value this approach.”

Beneda explained how both this broader solution architect approach and the more traditional one will operate together.

A partner who is building out a technical team will have an individual focused on the leading edge of customer engagement with a skillset that is broad but not so deep. Behind them are specialists who are deep, but not so broad. The way we are trying to modularize the program is around how they structure job roles. We’ve had specialist components in the past. Now we are going to put all this together in front of the customer.”

The new rewards program is still largely a work in progress, with much of it scheduled to roll out over the year. The idea will be to provide both individual spiff benefits as well as benefits to the partner organization as well.

“The rewards will be like airline miles, based on the level of certification, but also adding continuous learning paths and badges on top,” Beneda said. “Instead of making the certifications very product focused, like on Gen 10, we come at it from customer requirements and solution architect skills, and create concise learning paths. They would allow, for example, a 3PAR person to get quickly up to speed on Nimble. Someone who is a Master ASE in data management and analytics –  we don’t know if they have ability to consume that information. This will let us target them with some deep content, tools and best practices. Several phases will roll out over the next several months.

“The level of invitation to come into the HPE family is what is unique here,” Beneda concluded. “We are making a commitment to bring the channel directly into our family and lead with this solution architecture approach. It will bring the partner companies into higher margin opportunities, and assist their technical people to build skills. That’s what Tech Pro is in a nutshell, bringing value to both company and individual solution architects.”

HPE Tech Pro Community membership is open to all present and future HPE channel partners and will become available in the EMEA region in March, the Americas in May, and worldwide in June. HPE channel partners can join the Tech Pro Community after receiving an HPE Master ASE Certification, HPE Product Certification, or ATP Technical Certification.