Layoffs? Restructuring? HP Partners Say They'll Cope

By Jacqueline Emigh  |  Posted 2005-02-10 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Resellers, integrators, ISVs and other partners steel themselves against the ramifications—rumored or real—of the big CEO shakeup at HP, but not everyone's pleased with the names being floated for Fiorina's replacement.

Carly Fiorina's departure from HP has gone hand in hand with rumors ranging from immediate sales layoffs to a larger corporate restructuring somewhere down the road. But partners from a variety of sectors say they're set to take organizational changes in stride. Some even see new opportunities for partners.

"One of our closest friends—a long-time HP rep with 25 accounts—got RIF'd on Monday," said John Marks, CEO of JDMI (JDM Infrastructure), in an interview with eWEEK.com.

Job cuts have impacted tier-one direct accounts, as well as tier-two enterprise accounts. "Tier two has really gotten slashed," Marks told eWEEK.com.

"The situation [at HP] is a very changing one. But change can mean opportunity, and you always have to find that opportunity," said Felise Katz, CEO of PKA Technologies Inc., an enterprise solution provider, in another eWEEK.com interview.

Industry buzz around layoffs in Hewlett-Packard Co.'s sales organization is nothing new, according to Katz. "There's been no more of it—or less of it—since the announcement of [Fiorina's] resignation."

Actual layoffs at HP are also nothing new, either. In an SEC filing last November, HP said it would spend $200 million over the next six months on staff reductions. But the company didn't pinpoint where those job cuts would be made. After acquiring Compaq in 2002, HP said goodbye to a grand total of more than 17,000 staff positions.

Katz said her company will cope with layoffs at HP through adaptation. HP does not provide sales leads to PKA. "That hasn't been part of it. But we've had access to a lot of talented people in technology, sales, and marketing. We've had great partnering with the sales reps," Katz said. "But if we lose those sales reps, we'll build relationships with the new reps. All my sales come from collaboration. The relationship is a triangle between us, HP and the customer."

To read more about customer reaction to changes at HP, click here.

Meanwhile, though, several other HP partners contacted by eWEEK.com said they've heard nothing yet about any sales layoffs at HP this time around. Gary Schulman, president of the Americas for Israel-based Followap, theorized that his company is so new as an HP partner that it might not be "in the loop" about personnel and organizational changes.

Followap produces "presence servers" for wireless carriers and telephone companies. The company has a direct sales arm, but HP has also been integrating Followap's servers into larger solutions slated to be sold directly by HP.

Other partners speculated that the reason they haven't heard about HP job cuts yet is that the people they work with inside HP's large and complex sales arm aren't among the layoff victims.

One partner, who specializes in OpenVMS solutions development and integration, said he doesn't even interface directly with HP's sales organization.

"Instead of HP sales, I work with technical people at HP who are mostly concentrated these days in Nashua, N.H.," said Mario Abruzzi, a partner at Framework Solutions LLP. Additionally, in implementations involving hardware sales, Framework works directly with another HP partner, which specializes in hardware.

If a more sweeping reorganization at HP is around the corner, the impact on partners will depend on just how HP restructures itself, partners concur.

"We'd only be affected if HP decided that it wanted to get out of the software business—or that it didn't want to do anything with the [OpenVMS] product line," Abruzzi said.

"If HP sold the part of the company we're dealing with, then we'd probably start working with whoever else bought it," Schulman echoed.

HP's selection of a new CEO is the move that will have the greatest effect on HP partners, according to JDMI's Marks.

But from the names being bandied about, Marks isn't all that optimistic. "It all starts at the top. I'm really hoping that the board chooses someone who can see the benefits of making better use of the channel. But from the list of candidates I've been hearing about—[Michael] Cappellas, Ed Zander, [Kevin] Rollins—none of those guys is known as particularly channel-friendly," the reseller told eWEEK.com.

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