"Focus" - that's the word which popped up most often during interviews with senior executives at HP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), which this month celebrate their first year as independent companies.
Both firms claim that by going separate ways, they could pay more attention to their customers and partners and work much faster than they could before as one.
HP Inc specialises in PCs and printers, while HPE focuses on enterprise storage and servers. The rationale behind the split was that it would enable both sections of the business to focus on their respective technologies, channels and customers, becoming faster to make decisions.
Neil Sawyer (pictured), HP Inc's channel sales, SMB and education sales director, told CRN that this is exactly what has happened, and gave some examples of how getting small has had a big impact on partners.
"We are a lot faster at being able to make decisions," he said. "We are a more defined business and therefore we can be more autonomous about making those decisions. That's one thing that all of us have noticed, particularly in the past 12 months. It has breathed a lot of new energy into our business and our partners."
HP Inc has 15 per cent more partners since the split - many of which are big-selling Platinum resellers.
Academia, Total Computers and Daisy Communications were all pin-pointed by Sawyer as partners that have delivered strong growth for HP. Furthermore, the vendor is recruiting a number of new channel managers who will serve the surge in new partners. The number of new faces in the HP channel team is "in single digits", Sawyer said, but he said their significance for the channel cannot be overstated.
"We have a growing number of Platinum partners - these are the guys who do multi-million pounds' worth of business with us," he said.
"Given our growth in print and the acquisition of new technology with A3, one of the decisions I made locally is that we need to [give that team the resources] to focus on printing solutions. All our Platinum partners will have a dedicated partner account manager, effective last week. All our Platinum partners in PC - or Personal Systems as we call it - will have a partner business manager as well. So all our major partners have two dedicated account managers focused on developing the business in both areas. It's many years since we have been able to do that so it is very welcome for the bigger partners we work with.
"We need to recruit more people to manage the growth of those partners. It's a real testament to the work we are putting in to develop the strength and depth of partners we are working with. As a separated business, we have the flexibility to go out and do that and serve the channel a little bit better."
Education is one area in which Sawyer said HP has seen particular success, thanks to the likes of European Electronique, Misco and Insight, especially over the summer months.
HPE said that it too has been focusing on vertical markets, which has been paying off.
Its UKI sales director Pip White, who reports to UK MD Marc Waters, said HPE now has a much deeper focus on vertical markets.
"We have a real clear strategy and focus and it's a key theme you hear from Meg all the way down," she said. "We're really aligned to where the market is going and what our customers and partners want from HPE. We have three core beliefs: we believe hybrid will win in the marketplace; we believe everything will become software-defined; and we have a lot of focus on the intelligent edge - that's a real high-growth opportunity. And it's all underpinned by our services capability - we really feel that will differentiate us."
HP and HPE share a canteen in their Bracknell offices, and are just across the road from each other in London. Despite formally and legally splitting in two a year ago, both sides insist that they continue to work closely together for the sake of their partners, customers and themselves.
Sawyer and White both said they have a number of friends working in the other office, and HPE is a registered HP partner. Both firms held their global partner gatherings in Boston at the same venue in September, just a day apart. These measures have been taken to ensure continuity and efficiency for partners, said Sawyer.
"Those friendships last a long time and will never disappear," he said. "But we are separate businesses and we do different things. But we try to find - particularly with bigger reseller partners - ways to work together and invest in projects or events together in order to look joined up and to get the best out of those opportunities.
"It is amazing and a year ago we appointed an account manager for HPE and the relationship, especially with the services side of the business, has never been stronger. We treat them as a partner, like everyone else."
White agreed and added: "We've grown up with a lot of these people and we know them well. We're constantly swapping information to help each other out if there is an issue we need to resolve quickly or an opportunity to address."
When HP split in two, its PC business retained the HP name, while Hewlett Packard Enterprise got a new name, brand and logo. Launching the new brand is something White said was a particular highlight of the past year, adding that partners were very receptive to it.
Additionally, she pointed to the acquisitions of Aruba and SGI as being particularly channel-friendly highlights, as well as its continued partnerships with the likes of Microsoft and "new entrants" such as Docker.
"As a separated business, we have the flexibility to go out and do that and serve the channel a little bit better."
Sawyer too hailed HP Inc's relationship with Microsoft. Last month, the software giant continued its foray into hardware. Although its Surface tablets have been on the market for a while, it recently unveiled its new Surface Studio: a high-end device aimed at the creative industry, which many have said rivals Apple products. Sawyer said Microsoft's hardware moves are "very good for them" and that HP Inc's toes are not being trodden on.
"I refer back to the Global Partner Conference and you can see the relationship Satya [Nadella, Microsoft CEO] and Dion [Weisler, HP Inc's CEO] have," he said. "Dion made the point very clearly which is Microsoft are very good at creating categories and awareness around them. HP is very good at inventing technology and leveraging that investment. I think it's good for the industry that people are excited about the Microsoft ecosystem and HP will certainly benefit from those investments. We definitely are."
Chief exec Jens Montanana claims Logicalis performed well despite 'currency headwinds'
All the photos from last night's event, which saw over 600 people congregate at the Hilton London Bankside
Five year deal with Essex NHS Trust will cover 400 sites, including hospitals, clinics and GP practices
18 individuals and three companies walked away as winners at CRN's inaugural Women in Channel Awards last night