HP has responded to calls from partners to make its top-level Gold badge more exclusive by putting more emphasis on specialisation.
The hardware behemoth last week announced several tweaks to its Preferred Partner Programme (PPP) for its fiscal 2011 starting November. Partners have until 31 August to get up to speed.
Chief among them is a greater focus on specialisation, with Gold partners now required to hold at least one specialisation for the first time.
Three new specialisations, including two around HP Networking, have also been added and the Datacentre Specialisation has been replaced with a more stringent one around converged infrastructure.
Kevin Matthews, UK and Ireland channel manager for Enterprise Storage, Servers and Networking (ESSN), said HP’s 95 Gold partners were being asked to step up.
“We are trying to drive more value within our Gold Preferred Partner brand and to make it more exclusive,” he said.
Remuneration for fiscal 2011 has yet to be determined but Matthews said margin would rise in line with the investment partners make. For ESSN, the new Converged Infrastructure Specialisation will command the highest remuneration because it combines networking, server and storage skills, for example.
“The more specialised you are the more remuneration you get,” said Matthews.
At the same time, HP has removed some of the cross-business unit training requirements. “We have recognised that we have a whole host of partners and we don’t want to make them jump through hoops if it is not relevant to their business,” explained Matthews.
“It is perhaps not right to make a data centre partner selling high-end solutions to go through PC training.”
Finally, Matthews urged more resellers to exploit the extra discounts available through HP’s Partners for Growth deal registration scheme that runs alongside PPP.
“Partners sometimes forget there are good addressable margin opportunities with some of the programmes we have,” he said.
The changes were welcomed by larger partners previously critical that the Gold badge was not sufficiently exclusive.
Simon Aron, managing director of HP Gold partner Eurodata, said: “This is a sign that HP Gold is maturing.”
Martin Hellawell, managing director of HP Gold partner Softcat said: “The more differentiation we have in the market, the better.
“But the one thing I do not like from HP - as well as other vendors - is they tend to base all their specialisations on technical people.”
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