“You’re not going to see us make flippant changes to our strategy when we’re under pressure,” says channel exec Matt Harris.

Christine Horton, Contributing Editor

September 8, 2023

3 Min Read
HPE's Matt Harris talking partner-first at UK event

HPE has taken an apparent swipe at rival Dell’s recent switch to a partner-first strategy for its storage business.

HPE’s UKI/MEA MD, Matt Harris (pictured above), addressed partners at the HPE Partner Festival in the U.K. Thursday. Four hundred partners attended the event, which aimed to replicate a music festival.

“You’re not going to see us make flippant changes to our strategy when we’re under pressure and say, ‘Oh, we’ve decided now we’re going to move our portfolio to be through the partners.’ Not going to happen — because it’s always happened,” said Harris. “It has always been a partner-first organization and strategy and long may that continue.”

While Harris didn’t mention Dell specifically, it is among a handful of vendors to lean into a partner-first strategy during the economic downturn.

Partner-First ‘Too Little, Too Late’

HPE’s partners attending the event were more candid. The sentiment around Dell’s recent shift seemed to be “too little, too late.”

Steve Hinns, head of HPE solutions at Nexstor, said the firm was aiming for £12-£13 million (US $9.6-$10.4 million) in revenues, of which HPE would comprise 50-60%.


Nexstor’s Steve Hinns

Of the Dell move, he said, “We’ve seen it before,” He added that historically, Dell’s direct team “has gottem involved and taken the deal off us.” As such, the vendor has more to do to win partner trust.


Simoda’s Daniel Bumby

“I’ve worked with HPE for a long time,” added Daniel Bumby, managing director at Simoda. “And they’ve always been heavily involved in partners. You do see a lot of other vendors out there playing catch up.”

‘We’re Not Back; We Are Better’

Elsewhere, HPE’s Harris was frank about the changes that HPE has made over the last year in response to “tough” partner feedback.

“We’ve invested in our transactional engine. We’ve gone through a big IT transformation the last 12 months, which has been difficult. But by going through that, our ability to serve you, provide some consistency and a world-class experience, we’re now in a really strong place,” he said.

Harris also said HPE had hardened its supply chain “to make sure we don’t have any repeats of the global supply shortages that all of us in the industry had to navigate.”

He added that taking “a look in the mirror as an organization” had led to a marketing campaign entitled, “We’re Back.”

However, he took issue with HPE’s messaging to partners. Apologizing to HPE’s marketing team, he said: “I don’t like the “We’re Back” message. Because we are not back; we are better. We are better because we are modernized. We’re robust. We’re open for business and we’re driving the future. And we will do that with you, our partners.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Christine Horton or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Christine Horton

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Christine Horton writes about all kinds of technology from a business perspective. Specializing in the IT sales channel, she is a former editor and now regular contributor to leading channel and business publications. She has a particular focus on EMEA for Channel Futures.

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