Tag: channel

Can HP clean up its channel conflict act?

clean_up_after_yourselfThe maker of expensive printer ink HP has fast discovered the problems of hacking off the Channel.

For a number of years now, HP has had a problem in that its direct-selling sales teams have been nicking deals from their channel partners. While this has been good for the company in the short term, it has led some resellers to wonder why they should line up deals, when HP would just nick them from underneath them.

We reported on HP’s channel conference here, and here.

Unsure if it was going to keep its hardware business, HP did not seem that keen to tackle the problem. After all if Leo Apotheker’s plan paid off, then there was little reason to care about hardware partners, as they were going to be dealing with a new business, who would presumably be kinder.

As a result hardware sales dropped, in part because of the lack of morale of HP’s hardware partners. More than 70 percent of HP’s sales are delivered through its channel.

All that changed when the new CEO and president Meg Whitman decided to keep HP’s hardware business. She realised that without a fully functioning channel, the whole business was rubbish.
She ordered the company to develop better rules of engagement for HP’s direct sales team which did not step on the toes of the channel.

Speaking to the recent Global Partner Conference, Whitman said that partners had “literally built” HP’s business over the years, and she warned that any move which took business away from the HP channel and going direct would not be tolerated.

“Everyone in the HP organisation is crystal clear on the behaviour we expect. I am holding myself and the executives accountable for that,” she added.

But that did not mean that HP was going to close down its direct sales operations. Indeed the rules that Whiteman has been pushing forward might be hard to implement.

Her view was there are accounts that HP will take direct, but there must be “no mystery” in the process, and that partners who have done months of work on a deal will be paid even if transacted by HP.

The agreement basically makes a few pledges. Partners are not restricted from selling to anyone but the bigger accounts still have to involve an HP field rep.

HP has promised to leave the midmarket to the channel which which is a significant change.
The company’s opportunity registration policies are being used to govern behaviour. If HP accepts a partner’s registration, the company will not sell direct on that opportunity.

HP has set up a “value express pricing” programme, where HP channel partners will be rewarded for the value they provide.

It also has promised for there to be mandatory training on the new rules.

While this sounds good, it is hardly tangible. Under what circumstances would HP take a customer away from its channel partner? How much work would have to be done before a partner got paid?
In fact it might also be difficult for HP to fire sales staff that do pinch deals from partners. While they may be breaking HP’s policies, they are not breaking any laws. Sales teams are not famous being open to what they perceive as rivals when they are looking for commissions.

The only way a channel deal can be protected is if they are go for certifications and will use registration. This makes the deal more open, but it also makes it vulnerable to gazumping by HP’s internal teams.

As Jack Mele, vice president of sales at Data Impressions pointed out, it will only work if the Whiteman’s corporate edict trickles down the way it should.

However it is better than nothing, according to Search IT Channelmany in HP’s channel welcomed the change. Craig Sehi, of Sehi Computer Products said that HP’s new “rules of engagement,” were a welcome relief and was sign that HP is listening to its resellers.

But it is clear that HP has a long way to go before it can calm its jittery channel and get them working together.

Intel Ultrabooks are the “Titanic of the 21st Century”

Der Untergang der TitanicResellers have lit into Intel Ultrabooks likening the range to the “the Titanic of the 21st Century,” and calling the products a “sinking expense.”

The comments come as resellers are still seeing bleak sales  for  these products, with some saying they can’t see a light at the end of the dismal tunnel.

Intel’s slim line babies had been touted as a lighter way to work, however, according to recent research by IDC, the company’s emphasis on its skinny form factor did it no favours as the price tag is still sky high.

However, it seems the stubbornness of the company, and its reluctance to cut prices, have angered resellers.

“Ultrabooks have really been the Titanic of the 21st Century. A disaster, and sinking expense,” one told ChannelEye today.

“It seems to me that whatever Intel does, and however much it throws at this brand, it’s just not going to take off unless it reduces prices for these ranges significantly.

“However what we’ve heard from the company hints that this isn’t going to happen, meaning we’ll once again be left with surplus stock and low margins as a result.”

Others agreed, claiming that the price point was the thorn in Intel’s side.

“Ultrabooks still aren’t doing as well as we would have liked. No one wants an overpriced laptop at the moment and the slim USP it’s got going on just isn’t attracting consumers,” another reseller told ChannelEye.

“There are cheaper, but bigger laptops that offer similar features that just make purchases more justified.”

Others have also pointed out that although the company could cash in on the upcoming holidays, consumers again would be reluctant to opt for this product with tablets offering a better price point.

“We’re hoping to see a rise in Ultrabook sales as the summer holidays come around, but it’s market. Some families who are going away will be looking for a light device that can keep kids occupied on a plane as well as act as a virtual mag/book.

“Although an Ultrabook would be perfect for this, the reality is the price points will push many to a tablet,” he added.

Google buys Channel Intelligence for $125 million

google-ICGoogle is continuously trying to improve its e-commerce business and its latest acquisition should give it a nudge in the right direction. The search giant bought e-commerce solution provider Channel Intelligence for $125 million in an all-cash deal.

Channel Intelligence is active in 31 countries and it offers a wide range of e-commerce services.

The company has been a partner of Google Shopping for years and the two outfits worked together on Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Product Listing Ads (PLA) products. In addition, Channel Intelligence offers a range of free services, including Facebook integration and product search widgets and an e-commerce back end, dubbed Shopping Engine.

Channel Intelligence announced the deal on its website, adding that all of its services will be available for years to come. The company has been around since 1999 and it tracks about 15 percent of all online transactions in the US. It is behind $2 billion in sales through referrals every year.

ICG group announced Wednesday that the transaction should be finalized in the first quarter of 2013. ICG is expected to realize $60.5 million in connection with the transaction.

“Building upon the perseverance and strong foundation laid by CI’s founder Rob Wight, I am extremely proud of the work we accomplished at CI,” said Doug Alexander, CEO of CI and President of ICG. “With the talent and hard work of the entire CI team, we successfully navigated a very complex marketplace, ending a record year that culminated in this very exciting acquisition.”

Wright said he is thrilled to see the recognition of CI’s value. He said the company’s vision was to simplify the online shopping experience and that he is very proud to see the vision executed to such a “great outcome.”

Channel faces legal pitfalls after Oracle ruling

courtThe final appeal is out and Oracle has lost its appeal against a Californian judge’s ruling that it will have to keep porting its software to Hewlett-Packard’s Itanium-based servers.

But as the cleaners clean the blood off the court room walls, it is clear that the case will have some impact on the way suppliers do business.

The case centred on the so-called Hurd Agreement, which HP and Oracle negotiated after Mark Hurd left the company and joined Oracle. Oracle felt that the agreement was a statement that the two companies would work together as they did before their spat. Oracle co-President Safra Catz claimed that such a statement was a non-binding “public hug”.

The judge thought that public hugs should be considered legally binding, depending on who was doing the hugging. He pointed out you can’t write down a phrase like “Oracle will continue to offer its product suite on HP platforms … in a manner consistent with that partnership as it existed prior to Oracle’s hiring of Hurd” and hope that no one would take you literally.

“The sentence can only be reasonably interpreted as requiring Oracle to continue offering its product suite on HP’s Itanium platforms,” Kleinberg wrote.

It went without saying Oracle appealed, but other judges also nodded sagely and said that it did not matter what Ellison thought he had signed, the agreement was there in black and white.
While the situation is extraordinary, it could herald a new era of partner agreements.

The case effectively said that any agreement has to be written down carefully and mulled over by the legal team before it is signed. It also says that anything put in writing has to be looked at as if it was chiseled into Egyptian granite for all time.

While this might seem obvious, it clearly was not in Oracle’s mind it has some of the most expensive, er, best, lawyers in the world.

Already analysts are muttering that you will never see another “public hug” deal like this again. Every agreement between suppliers will have a start date and an end date.

This is one of the reason why the channel should be dusting off their legal contracts with their suppliers post haste. Many of them will find that they have signed vague expressions of love and devotion which could get them in hot water.

Some of these contracts are like a pre-nuptial agreement, which are signed when the partners are in love and only reviewed when they are arguing custody over the CD collection.

Software deals in particular can be problematic, which are particularly ripe for a major legal row when something goes wrong for a mutual customer.

Fortunately a lot of lawyers have written in clauses into such for the contracts to be reviewed, or renewed. The problem is that if they are not renegotiated it is possible, as HP did, to stand up and demand it be taken literally.

The Itanium case also proved that trying to get out of a deal with bad grace might also backfire. Oracle really hates having to support Itanium, but if it assigned its worst developers to make sure the porting was stuffed, Ellison could be back in court facing a contempt charge.

Because the court has become involved, Oracle is painted into a corner and must be a dedicated follower of Itanium. Its ability to duck out of the plan is even more restricted than Intel or HP.

No company would ever want their partner to have that much power over their business decisions. So it is probably better to check out what those old contracts look like before you pick a fight with your channel partners.

Mobile shopping apps only four percent of e-commerce revenue

smartphone-shoppingIn spite of the unprecedented smartphone boom, shoppers are apparently still reluctant when it comes to e-commerce apps.

According to a report compiled by Research2Guidance.com,  the vast majority of mobile shops made less than 5 percent of their total e-commerce revenue via the mobile channel.

ChannelEye launches and injects zest into the supply chain

Hands across the waterPrakasha Publishing Ltd has launched a title designed to inform, educate and entertain the influential supply chain in the United Kingdom.

ChannelEye, (channeleye.co.uk) is edited by industry veteran Mike Magee. The editorial team that launched another channel title this time last year, will upset the apple cart and provide hard hitting news, interviews and pithy comment that reflect the concerns of distributors, resellers and the rest of the community.

“It’s high time that stuffy, old fashioned channel magazines whether online or in print are consigned to the dustbin of history,” Magee said.  “The supply chain continues to be essential to deliver vendors’ offerings to end users.  We will break the mould and deliver essential information to the key players in the market.”

“This is a fantastic development for IDG” suggests Jonny Busse, head of the IDG Tech Network. “Commercially representing this website will now allow IDGUK a strong presence in this important marketplace with ChannelEye offering a clean and unique style coupled with hard hitting content”

In addition to news, ChannelEye will cover wider matters including reviews, interviews with key players, moves in the industry, product information, gossip, and sparky, solid information. Avoiding re-cycled press releases, ChannelEye will avoid business jargon that only marketers understand, and will deliver gritty and realistic depictions of stuff that matters to the channel.

About Prakasha Publishing Ltd.  Prakasha, headed by CEO Mike Magee, already publishes well respected technology title TechEye.  Founder of both the Register and the Inquirer, Magee was listed as the 35th most influential person in UK technology by the Daily Telegraph.  He can be contacted at mike.magee@channeleye.co.uk  He brings on board a team of journalists that has close contacts in the channel and the wider IT community.