This morning’s CRN Daily newsletter has two conflicting headlines – one noting alarm and shock over HP’s surprise strategic shift in direction, and the other advising partners to ignore the fear, uncertainty and doubt enveloping the vendor.
Only one of those headlines is right – partners are shocked. The entire technology world is shocked by HP’s intention to shed its $40 billion PC division. And the haphazard way HP made the announcement, as well as its acquisition of database management company Autonomy, has many scratching their heads over whether HP has lost its way.
Solution providers are loyal to their vendors – particularly integrators and service providers who have tremendous investments in practices based on a particular vendor’s technologies. But the dark cloud HP has created is enough to cast doubt in the minds of even the most ardent partners, customers and supporters.
David Dadian, CEO of HP partner Power Solution, wrote to Channelnomics:
“My concern now is the uncertainty that HP unnecessarily brought into play by publicly stating a possible spinoff of PSG… We do not move many PCs; our focus is more on servers, switching and security. However we will now be faced with answering questions that truly did not need to arise. It appears changes are occurring without a definitive game plan (at least publicly).”
And that’s the problem. The uncertainty HP has created by not having a definitive plan for its Personal Systems Group’s future will rippled through every division of the company – especially given CEO Leo Apotheker’s focus on building out the software business.
Will HP jettison servers if they start to drag financial performance? Will HP get rid of printers and print services to fuel software expansion? What will happen if software doesn’t take off? Will HP abandon its software customers as fast as it did its tablet users?
These are all good questions by customers and partners. Is it FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt)? Absolutely, and it’s legitimate. HP partners now have to face customers who have many more questions about stability, future development, commitment and value. The result will be longer sales cycles, greater pressure on pricing and services concessions. Of course, none of this is to speak of the competitive pressures that will be mounted against HP.
HP is responsible for creating the FUD climate, and it will have to deal with its consequences. It will have to do a lot more to satisfy partners and customers to keep them in the fold. That will mean more incentives for selling and buying HP products.
HP partners cannot sit idly, either. It should be in contact with its channel account managers to talk about the strategy and plan for addressing the market. Likewise, it should be in touch with customers to talk about future roadmaps – after all, none of these HP products are going away anytime soon (except the TouchPad).
Information is what cures FUD. In most cases, we would advise solution providers to ignore the FUD. In this case, we have to address what are legitimate concerns.
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Lawrence M. Walsh is CEO and president of The 2112 Group, a technology business advisory service that specializes in optimizing indirect channels and partner relationships. He’s also the executive director of the Channel Vanguard Council. He is the former publisher of Channel Insider and editor of VARBusiness Magazine. You can reach him at [email protected].
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