HP Launches SMB Offensive

By Sara Driscoll  |  Print this article Print


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The vendor aims for small businesses with enhancments to its SMB channel strategy.

HP has launched a three-pronged assault on the SMB solution provider market to gain more market share in the sector and ready itself before archrival Dell makes its own small and midsize business channel moves.

Ease of access, more investment and technology focused at the SMB sector are the latest enhancements to the company's SMB strategy, according to Adrian Jones, vice president and general manager of HP's Solution Provider Organization.

The vendor launched Oct. 29 SME Express Way, a portal covering product and marketing information across the HP portfolio aimed specifically at SMBs. "We're a large company, and it can be daunting to get information. SME Express Way is a one-stop shop for SMBs where they can get the information they need in two mouse clicks," Jones said. He added that training and education are also part of the portal, with virtual instructor-led training sessions as well as online education programs.

The second prong to the strategy is more investment in SMB partner support. HP is increasing the number of people in partner support by 10 to 15 percent. "We want to grow the coverage from our existing partners," said Jones. "There are some areas that our business partner managers cannot get to, so we have also enhanced our call center coverage for SMB solution providers.

"We invest millions of dollars every year in the SMB channel, and there will be more ploughed in this year. It's not just about people and dollars; it's also about new technology."

Jones said HP will continue to launch SMB-specific technology following the launch of its C3000 blade server. "All of the groups within HP are working on small-business-focused technology that doesn't need lots of resources to run or manage," he added.

HP's PartnerOne Program and special pricing will not change under the strategy, although the vendor has lowered the barrier to entry for its New Business Opportunity program and will add additional incentives for VARs who bring it new business.

Jones denied that HP's latest SMB strategy is in response to channel moves from Dell. However, he said: "We are focused on what is right for us, and Dell will focus on what is right for it. We are very conscious of what our competition is doing, and when Dell releases a program we will take a look at it. We have spent 25 years building our channel, so it's not going to happen tomorrow for Dell."

Alastair Edwards, senior analyst at research firm Canalys, said HP is in a better position than Dell in the SMB market. "HP is one of the strongest SMB brands, although it has a number of other rivals too, such as Acer in the PC space. Given that everyone is targeting the SMB market right now, this is HP making sure that it is strengthening its existing channel relationships and giving better support so it can help partners to upsell.

"Dell is watching HP's moves, but at the same time trying to work out its own way of targeting the SMB space through the channel now that it has realized that is the only real way to hit the small-business market."

Sara Driscoll began her journalism career at 16 years old on her local newspaper, The Watford Observer. Working part time, she covered a range of beats. Leaving to complete her Journalism Degree at Bournemouth University, UK, Sara then went on to graduate and work for Emap. She began as a reporter on APR, Emap's construction title, being promoted to senior reporter with a year.Sara then joined VNU Business Publications as Deputy News Editor on CRN, the weekly trade title for channel players. She covered industry/business news from vendors, distributors and resellers, product announcements, partner announcements as well as market and trend analysis, research and in depth articles to predict up and coming trends in the sector. She was promoted within a year to News Editor, a year later to Deputy Editor and the following year became Editor. Sara remained editor of CRN for three years, launching the magazine on new platforms including CRN TV and eBooks, as well as several magazine and web site redesigns. She was called on for expert industry comment from various publications including appearing on live BBC news programs. Sara joined Ziff Davis Enterprise as Editor of eWeek Channel Insider. She runs the title in all formats – online up to the minute news, newsletters, emails alerts and events. She also manages the brand of Channel Insider in all formats - events, shows, awards, panel debates and roundtables.Sara can be reached at:sara.driscoll@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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