Still under construction - three words that best summed up the year just gone for Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Amidst such a seismic separation, the channel held its breath as the process of establishing two new publicly listed Fortune 50 companies approached the finish line.
All eyes turned to Wall Street as Meg Whitman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on November 2 - heralding a new era for two titans of tech.
But perhaps surprisingly - and most certainly disappointingly for the circulating media vultures - nothing much happened.
“What separation?” asks Cedric Edwards, National Channel Manager, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Expressed exclusively to Reseller News, Edwards assessment of the industry’s most monumental marriage break-up speaks volumes for the new-look company’s approach to market.
Built on a rich legacy, a strong market portfolio and a desire for partner simplification, 2016 is lining up to be a defining debut season for Hewlett Packard Enterprise in the channel.
“Both partners and customers are telling us, you’ve got your mojo back,” says Edwards, when assessing the key channel plays in New Zealand for the year ahead. “But crucially, the separation was pain free for our partners in New Zealand and to be honest, they didn’t really notice it.
“Of course we encountered a few slight issues along the way but given the size of the company and the enormity of the separation, I think that’s to be expected.
“Pretty much all of our partners in New Zealand are across both Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc so they were already dealing with separate people on separate accounts anyways.”
With both companies operating as two separate organisations three months before the November 1 live date, Edwards says both companies continue to combine “where it makes sense”, citing no long-term damage to either channel across the country.
“I don’t think there was any partner that particularly moved towards us or away from us as a result of the separation,” says Edwards, alluding to the company’s new HPE Partner Ready program. "But clearly the increased focus and drive from both organisations is attracting new partners and new business."
HPE Partner Ready
Designed to enable partners to deliver solutions that help joint customers evolve to, as Hewlett Packard Enterprise puts it, the New Style of Business, Edwards says the fresh partner approach reaffirms the company’s commitment to the channel.
Going forward, the Partner Ready program retains the core membership models and financial and non-financial benefits of HP’s best-in-class PartnerOne program while adding further enhancements to help partners via improved partner profitability, increased demand generation and comprehensive partner enablement.
“Our new program has been well received in the New Zealand market,” Edwards adds. “During the first week of operations, we had a full HPE Partner Ready program available, including a rebate structure, funding model and investment strategy.
“Everything was good to go.”
As a mixture of worldwide directives, partner feedback and localised enhancements, Edwards says the program is fundamentally the same for partners in New Zealand, Chile or the US, while featuring subtle changes to meet the unique characteristics of each market.
“The program offers the same consistency for partners who are multi-country and multi-region but each region has a slightly different take on it,” he explains. “We’ve also taken the opportunity to localise our HPE rewards program by combining the best aspects of the Australian and New Zealand programs to offer the best of both worlds to the South Pacific channel.
“Our partners were honest and told us to reinvest money into different areas, areas that better drive business and revenue and we listened. It made sense and it drives the correct market approach."
With more partner incentives and opportunities available at a local level, Edwards says the company is “always acquiring and taking on new partners”, as the vendor better enables it channel for success in 2016 and beyond.
But as Edwards generally observes - speaking as a 16-year HP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise veteran - the New Zealand market requires a different approach for vendors keen to grab market share and boost partner relations.
“If you look at the market,” he explains. “The top partners for Hewlett Packard Enterprise are also the top partners for Cisco, EMC, Lenovo etc and that is what makes New Zealand unique.
“Whereas in other countries, it can actually become a lot more tribal. If you attend overseas conferences you’ll see pockets of IBM partners for example so the art of partner acquisition and recruitment is somewhat different in the Kiwi market.