It being almost Halloween, Hewlett-Packard partners are weighing the latest changes to the PartnerONE program (which is updated pretty much on an annual basis). They’re really not so scary, that is unless you’re an HP partner that sells best-of-breed products that compete with some of HP’s individual product offerings.
That’s because with its latest changes, HP is continuing to emphasis the concept that Elite designations should be granted not on the basis of a partner’s ability to sell products, but on the basis of their ability to sell solutions. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, it just forces a change not only in the partner’s mindset but also in the way that channel account managers support said partner. Unfortunately, the latter still doesn’t always happen, because internally, vendors still tend to reward their field personnel based on product quotas. Understandable, but flawed.
Just a couple of examples. In order to be called a “Virtualization Elite” partner, you need to support BladeSystem Server and Storage products AND Virtualization AND (now) products from Lefthand Networks. Eventually, ProCurve networkings skills will be required to be “Data Center Elite.” (A clear attempt to unseat Cisco’s dominance.)
HP’s program has always been one of the forerunners in the high-tech industry. The fact that its partners are being rewarded more for their support of an architecture rather than a particular product is something that other vendors should study closely. But one area where I think that every vendor continues to miss the boat is in understanding the component of a given solution — business consulting insight, implement and support services, applications, bandwidth, etc. — that won’t necessarily generate tangible product margin for them directly. The more your team can encourage partners to continue evolving their own unique part of the solution — their point of differentiation from every other partner on the planet — the better the chances that they will drag more of your product along the way.
Think about it.
For a complete run-down on the changes to PartnerONE, here’s TechTarget’s analysis.