Friday, February 29, 2008

Final Thoughts on the HP Partner Conference

I spent a couple days at the HP Partner Americas Event in Las Vegas this week. It was a very well done event full of a boat load of great content. HP always does things up first class. There were a few key takeaways from my perspective. Mark Hurd addressed the crowd and really focused on partner loyalty. It is all about partnership and relationship at a deep level. I have been preaching that for a long time as well. We have to go deep with our vendor partners. HP wants that to happen. None of this partial commitment – a big theme was being ALL IN with HP. I heard a similar message across the strip at the Sonicwall conference earlier in the week from CEO Matt Medeiros. Both companies are going to focus on partners who are loyal and sell their entire product set. Great news for HTS as we are aligned that way already.

A second observation was the type of partners at the HP event. I fit in that group from an age perspective. They wore suits and ties, which is a big stretch for me, but the average age of the attendees at the HP event was fairly high. This is a seasoned set of partners who will not be leading their respective companies forever. A great opportunity for HP to build some customer loyalty for the future by investing in the channel and helping grow up the next version of partners. Things will change in how the partner business happens. Web 2.0 is going to change a lot and the millenials (young workforce in their 20’s) are already changing how IT has to work and function. A lot more of that change is coming. Our HTG peer groups are focused on helping partners get positioned for the future.

The third observation is in the way HP runs a first class event. They had plenty of staff on hand, their systems worked for scanning into the breakouts, the meals were good and entertainment fantastic. How can you beat Steve Young and Sheryl Crow? Sonicwall held its event at the Plazzo which did have nicer rooms than Caesars. It is a brand new hotel so that is a bit of an advantage. The HP investment was in the event itself. Sonicwall takes a little different approach. Their meals were a step down, their entertainment a lot less – three impersonators, three “attitude girls” and a money machine – but they paid for a majority of the room cost so it was a lot less expensive to attend. Sort of a David and Goliath approach to the event. Both were good and I am glad I was able to attend both, but hope they don’t run them concurrently again. It was a bummer missing key pieces of both events. My hat goes off to both these companies for understanding the need to allow partners to come together to learn and grow. I appreciate that investment and support. It is those kinds of things that create loyalty. Thanks to Mark and Matt for believing in the channel.

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