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Like any society, the channel is made up of hunters and
gatherers that play a vital role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

But every now and again the balance between hunters and gathers gets out of whack,
and steps need to be taken to restore the natural order of things.

That seems to be where Hewlett-Packard (HP) is after three years of a PartnerOne
program that probably has seen more successes than missteps even if the missteps
gain more attention.

Today HP finds itself in a position where its biggest opportunity for growth
doesn’t come from penetrating existing accounts further but rather gaining
share in the U.S. SMB (small-to-medium business) sector
at the expense of
its rivals. To that end, HP is increasing the amount of money available to
partners that bring in new accounts that do not represent a mere shifting of
HP’s market share across different solution providers.

To help partners co-invest in marketing campaigns to help increase HP’s
market share, HP will make available additional funds to help defer the cost of
going after that business. As part of the effort, HP is creating additional
Elite certification designations around the product categories of workstations,
PC blades, thin clients and virtualization while also promising that it will be
much more nimble when it comes to helping solution providers win business and
fulfill orders.

Much of the work going into the revision of HP’s PartnerOne program reflects
of the company
that was made by partners during the company’s last annual
partner conference. The good news is that HP is moving to address many of those
issues as it looks to the annual revamp of its channel program that will kick
in this fall.

Included in that effort is working more closely with ISVs such as VMware. It
is hoped, for example, that by centralizing much of the virtualization
certifications needed to sell VMware through HP’s channel process, the cost of
creating a dedicated virtualization practice will become that much lower for

Overall, HP says it is now generating more than 1,000 leads a month on
behalf of its channel partners thanks to investments in marketing campaigns and
the presence of more HP salespeople in the SMB space.

As always, the wheels of change and justice turn slowly at HP. But each of
the new additions to the PartnerOne program directly address specific gripes
that HP partners have had over the last year. While everybody probably wishes
HP would address them a little faster, the one thing you have to give HP credit
for is that the company appears to be listening to its partners.

Naturally, all HP is asking from partners in return is to farm existing
customers a little less in favor of bringing home some new big game.