New HP Channel Chief Eyes Efficiency, Simplicity

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



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