HP's UK managing director, Andy Isherwood, has insisted its channel partners and SME tech firms are getting their hands on the juicy government IT deals it wins, despite some assuming it takes them direct.
Speaking to CRN on the back of a public sector-focused event it worked on with Avnet, Isherwood (pictured) opened up on how his firm shares big deals - such as recent wins with Norfolk County Council and a number of central government departments - throughout the channel.
"I did talk about this when I spoke [at the event] - I said you don't know what you don't know," he said. "You make this big assumption, don't you? If we have a big contract with the DWP or the MoD [Ministry of Defence] or the MoJ [Ministry of Justice], or Norfolk, or any of those, you assume that because the deal has been written on Hewlett Packard paper, that it is a direct deal, when actually, it couldn't be further from the truth.
"Norfolk is a great example - we have probably got 50 SMEs operating in that deal. DWP is the same. People just don't know it. That has been an awakening for me. People just assume it is direct and indirect, but that is not the case. It's actually a blend."
Isherwood said he stressed this point at the Avnet GovPath event, which was held at the distributor's Bracknell base. The gathering, which took place on Thursday, formed part of a joint initiative between Avnet and HP to bring all parts of the public sector procurement together under one roof to discuss how Avnet, HP and their partners can best serve public customers. Similar events focusing on other markets are also in the pipeline.
Avnet's senior vice president for Northern EMEA, Miriam Murphy, said one of the main concerns partners have is how to prove their value to public sector customers.
"From our perspective, the big concern is that these partners are trying to battle with how they can become and be seen as an expert in the clients' eyes - in this case, the public sector [customers] - and how they can be seen as equals to people who have been legacy suppliers into that environment for a long time," she said. "One of the things holding them back, and what they are looking to Avnet to support them in that process with, is enablement and also a way of leveraging Avnet's support and services so they can broaden the solution they offer."
Since the arrival of the coalition government back in 2010, suppliers across the public sector have been under intense pressure to cut prices to save departments cash. Isherwood said although austerity is in full swing, the narrative has changed somewhat towards encouraging transformative projects to save money in the long run.
"Clearly, the austerity measures are still there and we know what the government has got to do in the next term and we are all acutely aware of it," he said. "There is a greater awareness now that you can get cost savings through some sharpening of the pencil, let's say. But you then have to transform to get the value and the return on investment.
"And I think we are right at that pivot point where people understand you can only ask people to reduce costs for a certain period of time and you have to go ‘actually, we have to do things differently'. Actually, the procurement guys there [on Thursday] really talked well about that. They said ‘we have to move on and you have to help us move on'. And that's half the battle, isn't it?"
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