New HP Channel Chief Eyes Efficiency, Simplicity

By Carolyn April  |  Print this article Print

Stephen DiFranco officially took over as vice president and general manager of HP’s Solution Partners Organization (SPO), Americas today, and is poised to put his stamp on the 25,000-partner strong organization.

With his new boss championing the job as the "Super Bowl of all channel management roles," Stephen DiFranco, who officially took the helm today as HP’s new channel chief, says he’s poised to bring his A-game in leading 25,000 HP partners.

DiFranco replaces Adrian Jones as vice president and general manager of HP’s Solution Partners Organization (SPO), Americas and will report into Stephen DeWitt, senior vice president and general manager for HP’s Personal Systems Group, Americas. DiFranco says he credits Jones with forging a stronger relationship between the channel and HP, in particular raising partner visibility among senior HP executives. As he takes over Jones’ role, DiFranco will continue to oversee the breadth of HP’s channel operations, including sales, marketing and account management for the client computing and printing businesses and management of HP’s PartnerONE program.

DiFranco and DeWitt spoke with Channel Insider today, sharing some initial thoughts and touching on some of the goals ahead. While not providing many specifics, DiFranco singled out one area in particular that he believes is critical to focus on.

"We have things to address, namely issues around efficiency and simplicity," DiFranco said. "This is a big organization with lots of pieces that touch the channel and PartnerOne is the most significant and valuable channel program running today. It’s very important to manage it well and the stewardship of that is critical for the channel’s success."

The many moving pieces refer to HP’s vast product and solutions portfolio, which has only grown larger over the past year with the notable acquisition of 3Com last November. DiFranco said as a channel organization it is HP’s responsibility to provide a variety of ways for partners to gain access to the many different products and solutions, but to do so in a simplified, coordinated fashion. From there, partners take the pieces and put them together, he said.

"We are going to need lots and lots of touch points for our partners and we’ll need to manage that well," he said.

DiFranco said he believes the channel will grow even more relevant in the market place as the economy recovers from the recession and customers begin to view IT with a strategic eye toward driving revenue generation and cost-savings.

Before joining HP, DiFranco most recently served as vice president and general manager of consumer and commercial channels at Lenovo. He joined Lenovo in 2008 after a long career in channels, including stints at AMD and Maxtor.

His boss, DeWitt, expressed confidence in the channel veteran.

"In order to drive growth, we need to build high-impact relationships with our partners, competitive strategies, segment and regional strategies, etc., and these are all areas of strength in [DiFranco’s] background," DeWitt said. "This is not any old channel leader role. [DiFranco’s] got the right persona and strategic thinking we need with our partners because our relationships are not like other relationships."