HP PSG Decision Coming Soon: DiFranco

By Alison Diana  |  Print this article Print

HP's channel sales grew in the most recent quarter, in spite of the uncertainty around the future path of the HP Personal Systems Group which includes the company's PC business. But that uncertainty will end soon, promised top executive and former Channel Chief Stephen DiFranco.

Despite uncertainty surrounding the future path of HP’s Personal Systems Group, channel sales grew in the most recent quarter and solution providers will continue to play a key role in HP’s ongoing success, no matter what the company ultimately decides to do with PSG, a top executive told attendees at Synnex’s recent partner conference.

"The organization you know as PSG will continue, whether that’s somewhat independent or completely within HP," said Stephen DiFranco, senior vice president and general manager, PSG, Americas, at HP, during a keynote. "I need a few more weeks of your patience. As soon as we know, you’ll know."

In part, DiFranco was on-hand to thank solution providers for their support. In part, he flew to Greenville, S.C., to share information, in-person, about HP’s much-publicized August 18 decision to potentially sell-off PSG.

"This partner community is not just selling HP. They’re keeping their customers on HP," DiFranco told Channel Insider, in an interview after the keynote. "That’s a phenomenal statement about the depth of the relationship. It’s an opportunity to remind ourselves about how important it is to respect and earn this trust. Because that’s what it was: It’s trust."

Former eBay executive Meg Whitman, who joined HP as chairwoman in September, has said she wants to decide PSG’s next path by the end of October. As part of that process, HP is reviewing the factors that have made it the world’s largest buyer of hard drives, memory, disk drives and other computer components, DiFranco said.

As the company considers PSG’s future, HP’s resources are also centered on new products, categories and strategies designed to help solution providers continue selling the brand into enterprise and SMB accounts.

"The things I’m really focused on are making sure we’re focusing on bringing products to consumers, commercial and SMBs," DiFranco told Channel Insider.

One over-reaching theme is to brand HP consistently so buyers—both corporate and consumer—are better aware of the HP name and the full range of the vendor’s varied and expansive product line, he said. Apple, for example, has done a good job of making its products immediately recognizable among other vendors’ offerings, said DiFranco.

"HP wants to do the same," he said.

Similarly, HP is looking to integrate consumer-friendly or consumer-attractive features and capabilities into its enterprise-oriented technologies. This closely maps the consumerization of IT, brought on in large part by the invasion of smartphones, tablets and apps that IT departments must now integrate and support.

HP has seen big demand for its mobile workstations, designed for data-hungry executives and employees previously tethered to their desks because earlier iterations of notebooks were unable to process the engineering, large accounting files, or graphic designs they needed to access, said DiFranco.

"A lot of people thought we were investing where there wasn’t a demand. I have, for the third quarter in a row, not been able to ship all the orders I have," he said. "Mobile workstations are a phenomenon. It’s giving mobility and portability to workstation users. Mobile workstations are truly fast notebooks."

The company is also developing another facet of mobility, WebOS. Despite closing down its TouchPad tablet business earlier this year, HP continues to work on a better business model around the mobile operating system, said DiFranco.

HP plans to release ultrabooks for SMBs within the next few months, he said. These lightweight notebooks play off the company’s view of the blending worlds of consumers and corporate, and will be priced with the channel in mind, said DiFranco, without giving further details.

"We will still make it financially beneficial for you to be an HP PSG franchise," he told Synnex channel partners.

The market, of course, is not standing still as HP determines PSG’s future. Already, some once-loyal HP customers are considering alternatives, a Dell-sponsored IDC poll, out today, found. Two-thirds of current or prospective HP customers with 500 employees said they are concerned by HP’s changes in business strategy and leadership, the study found. Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they are reconsidering an alternative server vendor; 49 percent of respondents are considering new or additional PC vendors, the study said.