Channel Reacts to Fiorina Resignation

By John Moore  |  Print this article Print


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Partners had been expecting more involvement with HP, but they are now hoping for the best.

Channel executives say that they are taking in stride Carly Fiorina's abrupt resignation from Hewlett-Packard Co.

Wednesday's announcement adds still another twist to HP's channel story, which has shown some unpredictability in recent months. Still, partners predicted their HP business will continue to flow.

"CDW maintains strong relationships at many levels within HP, and we expect our relationship overall will continue to progress and prosper through the transition and going forward," said John Edwardson, chairman and chief executive officer of CDW Corp., in a statement.

"We expect HP to remain a strong channel partner, and do not foresee any changes in our ability to deliver" HP solutions via reseller partners, said Steve Tepedino, president of Avnet Partner Solutions, the value-added distribution arm of Avnet Inc.

Paul Whalley, vice president of New England reseller, Whalley Computer Associates, said the most important aspect of HP's management transition will be whether the incoming CEO "will be a stronger advocate of the channel" or place more emphasis on direct initiatives.

As for Fiorina, Whalley credited the departing HP leader for doing "a great job of integrating Compaq and HP."

Click here to read more about Fiorina's resignation.

Some executives, meanwhile, suggested channel opportunities exist beyond the immediate furor surrounding Fiorina's resignation.

"We're looking past the noise and are eager to [identify] the opportunity or opportunities that may lie beneath for us and our customers," said Keith Bradley, president of Ingram Micro North America, citing HP's historical collaboration with Ingram Micro and the channel.

"We'd like nothing more than to see HP end its pursuit of the direct business model … and tie the company's loyalties back to the channel and the value and profits it provides," he added.

Bradley said Ingram Micro can help HP "replicate the success and efficiency of its printer business throughout the company and reengage with the channel." While it strengthens links to the channel, HP can continue its focus on pioneering business and consumer technologies, he noted.

"And, although HP—or any company for that matter—is not defined by one individual, [a new leader] can have tremendous influence, which is why this change may bring forward new opportunities for HP and its partners," Bradley said.

Other HP partners declined comment pending the company's Americas Partners Conference, which is slated for next week.

But, while reaction was muted, distributors and resellers certainly have a vested interest in how the latest HP dislocation shakes out. The channel was somewhat unsettled last summer when the well regarded Kevin Gilroy was promoted out of his post as partner chief.

Since then, HP executives including Gilroy's successor, John Thompson, have pointed to an expanded role for the channel in HP's go-to-market strategy. In a January conference call, Roy Vallee, Avnet's chairman and chief executive officer, cited changes in HP's channel model as a factor in the company's growth.

The general expectation, channel executives said, has been for HP to involve partners more in face-to-face selling. It will be up to HP's new management to pursue that tack or change strategy.

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John writes the Contract Watch column and his own column for the Channel Insider.

John has covered the information-technology industry for 15 years, focusing on government issues, systems integrators, resellers and channel activities. Prior to working with Channel Insider, he was an editor at Smart Partner, and a department editor at Federal Computer Week, a newspaper covering federal information technology. At Federal Computer Week, John covered federal contractors and compiled the publication's annual ranking of the market's top 25 integrators. John also was a senior editor in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Computer Systems News.


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