HPE Channel and Partner Programmes

PAC recently attended a briefing from HPE’s partner teams. It was a fascinating insight how a giant of traditional IT is supporting its partners as they make a sometimes painful shift from shifting boxes, to selling solutions and services that align more closely with current consumption pricing preferences.

The company has a very well-established network of channel partners, but it has dramatically changed the composition of its portfolio as HP transitioned into HPE, with acquisitions and disposals aplenty along the way.

The focus of HPEs current channel programmes is threefold:

- to help their partners gain the skills and knowledge needed to sell the offerings of the new HPE

- to simplify process and administration within the scheme

- to help their partners acquire the competencies needed to embrace digital marketing, in order to engage with prospects in the ways they increasingly prefer

In terms of understanding the new portfolio, a lot of work has gone into simplification/rationalisation of product lines, which closely aligns to HPE’s overall strategy of focus on what the firms calls “Hybrid IT” (i.e. everything that belongs in a data center) and “Intelligent Edge” (i.e. everything else).  

A big goal for HPE is to move the channel on from selling familiar but low-margin products, such as servers. The carrot HPE offers to their ecosystem is a 3x multiplier on revenue recognition for more recent – what HPE terms its “focus products” i.e.  SimpliVity (hyperconverged infrastructure), Synergy (scalable infrastructure) among others. This helps channel partners that sell these more modern products move quicker from silver to gold to platinum partner status. Equally, for even newer and more unfamiliar consumption-based products such as Greenlake and OneSphere (among others), there is a 5x multiplier to help channel partners on their way up through the partner tiers even quicker.

In terms of process and admin, HPE has tried to make their programme much simpler, more transparent and more painless for its partners. In terms of payments, the new programme aims to ensure that all partners get rewarded for everything they sell from day one, with no gates or caps.  At the same time, HPE has simplified the partner compensation for selling its advisory and consulting services from its Pointnext organization. Finally it has deployed a new simpler portal that gives better visibility to partners on the status of their deals, so that partners know what they will be paid for, and when.

HPE is also committed to helping its partners build up their Digital Marketing capabilities. The company’s goal here is to encourage its more traditional partners to embrace online sales and marketing, because this is increasingly how HPE customers like to buy. The Partner Ready digital marketing programme encompasses an assessment of the partner’s current maturity in digital marketing, educational materials and trainings to advance the partners’ competencies, ready-to-go digital marketing materials and campaign artefacts. In PAC’s opinion, this moves HPE’s programme well beyond the traditional world of SPIFs and MDF, providing really meaningful incentives to get to grips with the worlds of SEO, CTRs and social marketing. HPE understands that this will not be for everyone - more conservative partners may prefer to stick to more traditional business models – but this is the journey HPE want to take their strategic partners on. For many the learning curve will be steep, and HPE has anticipated this with the provision of their Partner Marketing Concierge service – essentially a chat-based digital marketing helpline.

Overall PAC is impressed by HPE’s willingness to go “above and beyond” to support their partner and channel ecosystems. If these initiatives are executed as described, we are confident they will help HPE’s channels transform to deliver better against the demands of the digital future.