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Life in the channel

Before taking up his current role as UK&I Channel Director for HP Inc. Neil MacDonald ran the consumer team for seven years. Michelle Ryder caught up with him to find more about life in the channel

Michelle Ryder (MR): You’ve been in post for a few months now, how’s it been so far?

Neil MacDonald (NMD): It’s fantastic – I’m really enjoying it. A few things have stood out to me, one being the agility to move across very different routes to market, to identify any challenges and then address them. I’ve been impressed by the management team, the partner business managers and retail account managers. They are professional, knowledgeable and collaborative – always working to optimise our performance with the resellers.

Driving growth is a big part of our DNA, there isn’t a single partner that has said to me they want a smaller business with us this year than they had last year. Everybody wants to expand. With that kind of velocity and perseverance surrounding me, I feel I’m working with the best team to continue HP’s work in driving positive change and growing the business.

MR: What areas have you been focusing on to date?

NMD: Hybrid working has – understandably – been an enormous focus for us this year and will continue to be a big driver of revenue. We’re prioritising the creation of seamless home-to-office environments with our latest technology and solutions. The shift to hybrid working also had an evolutionary effect on MPS contracts, and we are now witnessing a vast number becoming more bespoke as customers return to the office. Clients are now not only looking for the right device for the right location, but additionally want to ensure they have the right service.

Security is another focus area -– the opportunity and need today is fundamentally different than it was pre-pandemic. With hybrid working here to stay, ITDMs are planning to invest heavily in cyber-secure hardware and software. For channel partners, this means that products offering seamless built-in protection, like HP’s Wolf Security, will increasingly become a market expectation to ensure always-on defence for remote work environments.

MR: How are you helping partners to drive new revenue streams?

NMD: A big differentiator and a business imperative for HP is sustainability. And it’s the same for our partners. It’s becoming crucial that we work with our partners and them to meet their sustainability goals.

Sustainability is going to be one of the very clear fundamentals of operating a commercial business, and those that embrace it and turn words into action, i.e., put their money where their mouth is, are going to win out and consolidate revenue streams.

HP’s commitment to sustainable impact has become a difference maker for the business, driving more than $1 billion in new sales for the second year in a row, and becoming a competitive advantage in our goal to be the most sustainable and just technology company by 2030. HP supports its partners to deliver on this new customer relationship dynamic through our channel intelligence platform, HP Amplify Data Insights, which allows partners to shape long-term growth strategies and drive recurring revenue.

In addition, the transition into a hybrid world has served as a catalyst for change which has resulted in huge opportunities for digital services and new workforce solutions. While our hardware will continue to play an essential role in the lives of our customers, we are also seeing opportunity and investing in softwareled digital services and data science to meet a wider range of customer needs. We plan to go after this opportunity by integrating and expanding our existing services offerings, like managed print services and device-as-a- service, and investing to develop new services for customers, such as managed video conferencing and remote computing solutions.

MR: You’re helping partners to go greener with the HP Amplify Impact Partner Program. How’s that been received by the channel to date? Has take-up been good?

NMD: Emerging consumer trends mean we are seeing a growing number of customers align themselves with organisations who prioritise sustainability – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s good for business as well. Our Amplify Impact programme offers learning opportunities for partners on sustainability, including issues around climate change, social justice and digital equity.

While our partners often look to us for leadership in driving towards a more sustainable future, they also need to illustrate that they’re taking steps to be more sustainable. Many of our resellers have revealed that they are judged on their sustainability credentials, like RFPs, and while some bigger resellers have their own strategies and teams dedicated to this, it’s the middle tier who are reaching out for extra guidance.

What Amplify Impact does is give them a programme to help train their staff to embrace the various aspects of sustainability that they need to embed in their business – and every single partner I’ve met with is compelled and committed to taking action.

Since its launch in 2021, most UK partners have signed up to the programme. While this is a strong start, we’re focused on closing that gap and ensuring that sustainability is at the forefront of the channel agenda. I hope the rest of the industry follows suit.