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HPE is ramping up its investment in technical sales and support for the channel, asserting that solution architects are now “taking the driving seat in solving customer problems.”
The vendor yesterday announced the global rollout of HPE Tech Pro Community, a programme that rewards partners’ investments in developing their technical capabilities.
“We want to encourage the next generation of experts, advocates, engineers, technicians, architects – the propel that are on the front line to help our customers,” Paul Hunter, worldwide head of partner sales at HPE told almost 1400 partners gathered for the vendor’s Technology and Solutions Summit (TSS) 2019 in Paris this week.
Designed for HPE Accredited Solutions Expert (ASE) and Master ASE certified partners, Tech Pro comprises a technical community, certification and learning based on its Partner Ready competencies, and rewards for partners’ achievements in the scheme.
Hunter says the “significant investment” in technical enablement was prompted by two industry trends.
“It’s no longer just the IT department in our customers that is interested in technology. Every function – whether legal, finance, marketing, HR – has an interest in business. Therefore, it’s incumbent on us to connect what we do with the business that we’re selling to. Our audience has grown, the people that we sell to,” he says.
Secondly, he adds: “The intent of technology is to become more agile and simpler, [but] the software engineering that’s required to turn something that’s fundamentally quite complex into something that is simple to operate and deploy; the expertise is huge. We need more specialisation.”
Tech Pro members gain access to a “collaborative meeting place” where they can build relationships with partner and HPE solution architects online, as well as attending technical events and in local engagements.
HPE says partners will be able to find simplified versions of the tools and resources they need all in one place, whereas previously they were scattered across the organisation. “It’s not that we don’t have the answer…the answer is in knowing where to look,” says Hunter.
The vendor also wants to simplify its architecture-based certifications and build out specialisations in the Master ASE community. One example is simplifying its ASE Hybrid Cloud certification – HPE has tweaked it to make it easier for partners to specialise in one of its biggest areas of focus, and is adding complementary new specialisations based on workload, software or consumption.
Elsewhere, the exec says HPE is still ironing out the details surrounding rewards and recognition for partners, but says he’d like it to be based on their “expertise and knowledge”, including their attendance at events like TSS.
“We are increasingly prioritising activities that encourage the learning and expertise of our partners” Hunter tells Microscope, adding that HPE’s investment in Tech Pro amounts to “millions of dollars in OPEX and MDF.”
The cost to partners, he says, is their time: “We’re competing for mindshare and that’s probably the most discretionary resource they have…I’m looking for their attention and time. And I’m looking for it at the expense of our competitors.”
“We need expertise in the new areas of our portfolio to grow – the right mix of hybrid IT, consumption sales, hyperconverged, AI, datacentre – it’s not the old days of storage, servers and networking,” says Hunter.
HPE argues that channel partner solutions architects are increasingly at the centre of their customers’ business IT decisions, “helping them define their business needs and prescribing the correct blend of enterprise solutions to help them achieve their goals.”
As such, the vendor wants to weaponise technicians in the channel to engage with different Line of Business (LoB) IT buyers, rather than leading with a ‘feeds and speeds’ conversation.
“There are a lot of vendors that provide technical training their products…we’re flipping the model. We’re starting with ‘what’s the business outcome that the customer is trying to achieve?’ and backing that into the product and solution components,” says Brian Beneda, manager, HPE Global Technical Enablement.
Says Hunter: “We want to encourage and curating a community that we believe is fit for the modern world and fit for the modern experience, which will encourage the future generation of advocates.”