HP has decided that the 'Elite' partner designation it has been using to denote VARs with high-level skills is confusing to customers, and so it's switching to the 'Specialist' label.
"We looked at what customers look for when trying to identify partners, and what nomenclature best describes the VAR," Michael Nordstrom, director of Americas channel marketing in HP's Solutions Partner Organization (SPO), said in an interview.
Starting Nov. 1, HP's Office Printing Solutions Elite designation will be known as Office Printing Solutions Specialist. HP is also splitting the designation into two parts: Managed Print Specialist and Advanced Managed Print Specialist, Nordstrom said.
The Office Printing Solutions designation stems from HP's acquisition of Printelligent earlier this year and will allow partners to offer services and solutions around its print portfolio.
HP's Imaging and Printing group (IPG) is also introducing a new Specialist category, Document Solutions. HP has run a pilot for the past year and partners have responded positively, and so HP is bringing it under the PartnerONE umbrella. "This will help partners bring a software approach to their printing business, as well as a chance to go deeper with their customers," Nordstrom said.
Other Elite designations making the switch to Specialist are Client Virtualization, App Systems, Advanced Networking and Professional Networking. HP is also bringing in new business opportunity rebates, and adding new sales tools and support for Managed Print Specialists, he added.
Nov. 1 is also when HP plans to roll out its new ServiceONE specialization, unveiled in July, which lets HP's services partners offer a full suite of HP professional and consulting services.
Katie Spence, senior manager of partner marketing for HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage, Networking (ESSN) division, said the idea is to help ESSN partners transition from product reselling to services business.
"We're announcing really aggressive growth rebates for partners that are jumping on services bandwagon, whether it’s their own services plus HP, or just HP services," she said. "The focus is on building partners' Converged Infrastructure expertise, and taking those partners who understand and can wrap a big red bow around that and solve customer issues."
HP's new App Systems Specialist designation is aimed at helping partners who've invested in strategic relationships with HP ISV partners like Microsoft and VMware to bring joint solutions to market, Spence said.
Partners that achieve App Systems Specialist status will learn how to tune and get best performance from an HP solution on a Microsoft platform, according to Spence.
"HP will have vertically focused training, and partners can earn upfront discounts for leading with a solution in that area," she said.