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HP innovation paying off

HP partner conference was a chance for the vendor to talk to the channel about doing things differently

A prominently displayed sign at HP Inc.’s World Partner Forum in Chicago read: “Old ways don’t open new doors”.

The message is significant. Since splitting from HPE two years ago the vendor has overhauled its product portfolio, its marketing and channel engagement – and it appears to be reaping the benefits.

The vendor has gone from a long period of flat or declining sales to outgrowing the market in certain categories over the past 12 months. HP has posted three consecutive quarters of double digit growth across all its regions so far in 2017, generating $2.4bn in revenue and related profit – more than the entirety of 2016.

“We outgrew the PC market growth by nine points, and we’re gaining market share in every region across the world at the expense of competitors, big and small,” said HP CEO Dion Weisler, who credited the growth to channel partners’ efforts.

In EMEA, the vendor has a 26.6 percent market share in commercial PCs, and a 41 percent share of the printer market. Further, HP's print business has posted two consecutive quarters of growth, for the first time in six years. 90 percent of its sales go through the channel across the region.

The figures don’t yet incorporate Samsung’s print business, which HP acquired 12 months ago. HP says it expects the deal to be finalised by the end of the year.

Weisler attributed the turnaround to “execution and innovation”, recognising the importance of convertible and detachable devices to the PC market, and the creation of new categories in print, such as HP’s pocket-sized mobile wireless printer, Sprocket, aimed at the under-25s.

There was no big reveal this year, unlike HP’s announcement of the Samsung acquisition last year. The vendor instead focused on print and PC device security, with Weisler claiming the vendor had “the most secure printers and personal systems on the planet and that’s a huge differentiator for us.”

Organisations will spend more than $20bn on security in 2018 alone, he said, and that partners leading with security “opens new doors at a high level of executive engagement.”

The vendor unveiled several new security-based products, including the Connection Inspector, an embedded security feature that inspects outbound network connections for suspicious activity, and if compromised, will automatically trigger a reboot to initiate HP Sure Start self-healing.

In addition, HP announced further automation and customisation to its Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) offering, with more effective fleet management through actionable analytics, and simpler plans and term options for customers.

“This will change fundamentally how we sell PCs,” said president of HP’s global Personal Systems business, Ron Coughlin.

The firm also announced HP University, a new programme that combines online and instructor-led courses covering skills, product training, and certifications to enable HP’s partners “to migrate to evolving business models such as contractual and subscription sales.”

Channel reaction

The messaging received a generally positive response from partners.

Stuart Dean, sales director at HP Gold Partner, Servium, told Microscope that while he “wasn’t wowed” by any of the announcements, “from a channel perspective, I felt valued and that the indirect channel is stronger than ever and important to HP’s overall strategy.”

“I thought it highlighted how stable the PC side of the business is and what a good job they have done over the last 18 months in getting to number one spot,” he said.

Loay Lawrence, solutions director at HP Gold partner, Vokhus attributes the HP’s renewed ambition on its split from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) in 2015, enabling the vendor to be “more focused” and commit more to R&D investment.

“If you look at vendors, HP seems to be leading the way in innovation,” he said, adding that the vendor’s current focus on innovation remind him of its ‘HP Invent’ era.

Moving forward, the CEO said trends such as rapid urbanisation, a changing workforce and the accelerating pace of innovation means consumers are changing how organisations buy products and services. “So how do we capture the opportunity together?” he asked.

Weisler said channel partners should be at the forefront of their customers’ digital transformation strategies. “With the speed of digital change, our mutual customers are investing and adapting to the future digital world to meet the needs of their customers. They really need our help,” he said.

“Right now, channel-led digital transformations are changing businesses…Right now, IT decision makers are embracing service-led models to manage an ever-increasing workload of variable demand. Right now, 90 percent of C-level executives believe their businesses is being disrupted by digital business models – yet 70 percent of them believe they lack the right skills and structure to adapt. So right now, this is our opportunity. These digital transformations represent the largest channel opportunity we have ever seen.”

Digital transformation is, undeniably, an industry buzzword. But HP appears keen to leverage the widescale disruption – and since its separation from HPE, it believes it has the agility and focus to break down those doors.

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