Partnering for Success: HP SMB Partner Advisory Council & Business Innovation

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This is a contributed post from Arlin Sorensen, current president of the HP SMB PAC.

 

The SMB market in the United States not only continues to grow by leaps and bounds, but it is also making a big impact in terms of overall economic growth. According to U.S. Small Business Association statistics, the 23 million-plus small-to-medium businesses (those with anywhere from 1 to 1,000 employees) account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales. And, the number of SMBs in the United States has increased 49 percent since 1982.

 

Given that kind of impact, it’s no surprise that HP is dedicating more resources, designing specific products and working closely with partners on how to best meet the needs of its small business customers. The HP SMB Partner Advisory Council (SMB PAC), of which I am president, is a body of 15 HP partners who work with HP executives on the strategic direction for SMB partners, providing feedback to HP on SMB products and programs, and extending HP’s reach into the SMB market segment as HP ambassadors.

 

The SMB PAC provides HP partners with information about new HP technologies and services, and helps SMB partners leverage the investment in partner programs that HP is making on their behalf. The SMB PAC receives regular updates from HP on new, innovative products for SMBs and partner program enhancements that can help partners increase profits, earn certifications for specialization, and enter into the right membership levels for program compensation.

 

With a focus on three key areas, the HP SMB PAC is helping to drive HP’s commitment to supporting the SMB market and maintaining a two-way conversation between HP and its SMB partners.

  • Marketing: The SMB PAC is always looking at creative ways to help partners execute on the resources HP makes available for marketing and branding. We are working to increase awareness among partners about demo programs, generating new business opportunities and utilizing marketing funds to maximum effect as well as recommending tweaks to make these programs more effective. 
  • Simplification: Assisting partners with expanding their HP portfolio and streamlining access to the right services or HP teams is a core function of the SMB PAC. We want to help partners become more profitable by increasing access to HP partner programs and streamlining the flow of information, from becoming an authorized HP partner to interacting with HP resources in the field.
  • Rules of engagement: Ensuring HP and its SMB partners understand and operate within the rules of engagement is a critical role of the SMB PAC. We work with partners and HP leadership to define how we work more effectively together to deliver products and services across the HP spectrum to our joint SMB customers. We also offer support to partners around how to best use HP resources to ensure they are competitive and compliant.

 

Effective strategies for success

The Council is also working alongside both HP and its channel partners to increase communication. We’re generating valuable feedback from partners through traditional methods such as surveys, while new forums such as a blog and social media sites are being discussed as ways to drive further engagement. Partner success is supported largely through these ongoing efforts to maintain dialogue about HP programs and certification opportunities that are designed to help partners grow their businesses.

 

This spring, after HP’s 2013 Global Partner Conference, I detailed the progress we’ve made to benefit SMB channel partners and our mutual SMB customers in an opinion piece for The VAR Guy. In addition, D.H. Kass of The VAR Guy recently wrote about new HP products designed specifically with feedback HP received from its SMB partners in mind. These products include a new array of notebooks and printers that address the productivity and budget needs of our customers.

 

Tackling trends for SMBs

The HP SMB PAC is meeting later this year to address issues and discuss marketplace trends facing SMBs. Among the most immediate trends are the impacts of mobility and the cloud. HP’s ElitePad 900 is just one example of HP’s leadership in solutions for mobility that partners can add to their portfolio of HP personal systems products. HP partners stand to benefit from the company’s tablet strategy and the introduction of Windows 8 means partners have exciting opportunities for new business growth.

 

Cloud adoption is becoming more rapid. Within two to three years, the amount companies will invest in cloud services is expected to rise to 48 percent, up from around 30 percent today, according to a recent Microsoft survey of 3,000 SMB owners. The survey also revealed that 50 percent of SMBs believe that the cloud will become more important to their business, in data backup and recovery, communication tools and project management. The SMB PAC will continue to collect feedback from partners on HP tablets, mobile devices, servers, cloud and other services that support mobility and more efficient, more profitable ways to help customers do business.

 

It’s an exciting time for the HP SMB PAC. Our efforts on the Council are helping partners around the world achieve success with businesses of all sizes. We eagerly anticipate the continued evolution and enhancement of HP’s products and partner programs, and plan to keep partners informed about new developments with council activities.

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