The past 12 months have not been easy for Hewlett Packard (HP). The company has done well to marry its own organisation with Compaq's while continuing to fight against Dell in the PC and server markets.
HP claimed three Channel Awards in 2002, and Andy Vickers, channel and SMB director for HP UK and Ireland, thinks it can win again this year, mostly as a result of putting in place its combined PartnerOne channel framework.
"PartnerOne is the biggest initiative we have ever done with the channel. It's all about focusing not only on distribution, but the final tier and enabling them to sell not just HP's but their services," said Vickers.
With the exception of the Specialist award, he thinks HP can compete for all the Vendor accolades in 2003. In the SME space HP is particularly active and sees this as being vital to its success this year.
Vickers said that the Centres of Excellence accreditation programme, which kicked off last year, has been well received.
Initiatives aimed at this market in 2003 include Clearway, a scheme that enables SMEs to extend the life of their systems. In addition, a programme called Top Config was launched on 1 July, enabling businesses to specify their own PCs or servers.
HP is continuing to support corporate business development as well, Vickers added. "The corporate sector is all about relationships and how HP's salesforce interacts with the channel," he said.
"We've got some great relationships with channel partners and we are always trying to bring together these partnerships with firms such as Microsoft, Intel and Vodafone."
Winning one of these awards would mean a lot, according to Vickers. "Computer Reseller News is one of the top channel publications in the UK and is highly regarded by HP and our partners," he explained.
"Winning one of the awards will serve as industry recognition of PartnerOne's success and reaffirmation of our channel's support."
HP has done well to bring two large organisations together with such control over the past 18 months. It is now the channel's biggest partner on the hardware side of the business, and for that reason alone must have a good chance of winning awards again this year.
Computer 2000 (C2000) has won the main Distributor of the Year award for the past four years, as well as several others.
This year the company hopes to make it five straight wins in a row, but managing director Julian Klein is under no illusions.
"It would be a fantastic achievement to win again. I believe we are taking all the right actions and delivering a better service to our customers in 2003 than we have in the past four years. I'd like to think we have a very good chance," he said.
Over the past year, C2000 has focused on reducing its own costs and those of its customers, while at the same time working to improve its own logistics and developing its services.
The company stepped up its efforts to provide online web-based ordering for its customers and increased the number of EDI and XML links it has with larger resellers. It has also countered the credit squeeze by putting £350m worth of credit into the channel.
"Everyone has been under pressure to reduce their costs and this is a key area of focus for us right now. We are taking more than half of our orders online. That's not only reducing costs for us and the reseller, it is making the whole channel more efficient," said Klein.
The company has been increasing its efforts on software licensing through its online tool and a scheme that helps resellers to identify when customers are due for renewal. There has also been a continued focus on the SME market, according to Klein.
Close partnerships with key vendors in this area, including HP, Cisco and Microsoft, have led to a number of initiatives.
C2000 has launched a marketing support agency for resellers, the TD Agency, and become an Affiliate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
As part of this programme, C2000 is providing courses for resellers to help them make better use of their marketing funds.
C2000 has had a good run in the Channel Awards but, like HP, it is not without rivals for the awards. The tighter categories will make it harder for the company to walk away with them all but, after what has been a very tough year for distributors, it must have a good chance of winning again.
Shortlists for the Channel Awards will be announced in CRN in the next few weeks. Voting will start on 1 September and continue until the end of October. Before then we will be previewing each of the awards and looking at the credentials of each firm on the shortlists.
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