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HP Launches SMB Central for Partners

HP is trying to boil its massive portfolio of products and partner programs down to just the elements SMB-focused solution providers need to make money. The effort launched March 1 as a portal called HP SMB Central.

"This is a new program and a new philosophy in HP. How can we bring new partners to HP and get them to understand HP and get their feet wet?" said Meaghan Kelly, HP vice president of Channel Strategy and SMB, Solution Partners Organization-Americas, in a phone interview Tuesday. For HP, it's a matter of trying to get better penetration into what its research indicates is a $57-billion market opportunity for HP products that fit into the SMB space in the Americas.

"From a portfolio perspective, we arguably have the greatest breadth and depth of anyone in the industry," Kelly said, ticking off products ranging from Webcams to laptops to printers to HP Superdome servers. "The bad part is that we're very complex and there's a lot to know about HP. The good part is that we have something for everyone. As we come forward with this program, we'll serve the most appropriate products for SMBs up on a platter."

New partners can register for free. The centerpiece of the program is called the Hot 5, which Kelly summarizes as, "Go do these five things and you'll make money this month."

The five elements are:

  1. having HP highlight the products out of its entire portfolio that are the best fit for businesses of 10-500 employees and flag current incentives for partners,

  2. a new configuration tool that helps partners search the portal for the right mix of tools while providing pricing and availability information from distributors,

  3. HP marketing subsidies of up to $1,500 per quarter (the first time co-marketing funding has been available outside of full HP PartnerOne membership),

  4. access to HP Financial Services to help close deals and

  5. a limited number of early participants can use the HP Solutions Showcase to link HP-updated product content directly to their Web sites for free.

HP SMB Central also includes an SMB Concierge Desk that uses Webcam conferencing to connect HP experts with partners. HP plans to turn on social networking and collaboration tools in the next 30 days, Kelly said.

HP has worked with Microsoft partners especially closely in the past through the HP/Microsoft Frontline Partnership, and that joint program continues to be an important focus, Kelly said.

"We've got a huge overlap in our programs," Kelly said. Of HP's 16,000 SMB-focused VARs in the Americas, she estimated that 90 percent are enrolled in the Microsoft Partner Network.

But she said HP hopes the SMB Central program will get even more Microsoft partners to sell HP hardware, printers, peripherals and software as they sell the Microsoft stack to their SMB customers.

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 02, 2011 at 11:58 AM