We pride ourselves on being a future-ready organization, extending this readiness to our channel partners as well: Vineet Gehani, HP India

Vineet Gehani

In this interview with Vineet Gehani, Senior Director – Consumer Sales, HP India, conducted by CRN India, Gehani provides insights into the current market landscape and outlook, particularly focusing on HPI’s leadership position in various product portfolios and market segments within the country. He highlights the pivotal role of the channel network in HPI’s success, emphasizing collaboration to serve customers across consumer, enterprise, government, and commercial markets. Gehani also discusses initiatives such as the HP Amplify program and tailored approaches like the Parivartan program, aimed at enhancing data-driven decision-making and strengthening partnerships with channel players.

Can you give us a quick overview of the overall business in India and what’s working for HP in the channel?

As you’re likely aware, we hold a leadership position across all product portfolios and market segments we operate in within the country. This includes commanding leadership in the PC industry, spanning both consumer and commercial sectors, as well as in the print industry and peripheral services. Approximately one out of every three PCs and nearly every second printer sold in the country is an HP product, underscoring the trust and confidence our brand enjoys.

Our success is deeply rooted in our strong channel network, which has been pivotal to our achievements over the years in India. We continue to prioritize and strengthen this channel partnership, collaborating closely to best serve the interests of our customers across various segments, including consumer, enterprise, government, and commercial markets. Our focus is not only on current successes but also on continually evolving to anticipate and address future needs and challenges.

We pride ourselves on being a future-ready organization, extending this readiness to our channel partners as well. Initiatives like the HP Amplify program serve as a global framework for deeper collaboration with our partners, offering more than just financial incentives but also data insights and collaborative efforts to enhance customer experiences.

In India, we’ve further tailored our approach with specific initiatives to digitize, automate, and enhance data-driven decision-making in collaboration with our channel partners. For instance, the Parivartan program for HP Worlds and exclusive stores has evolved to leverage customer data for targeted remarketing and campaign integration. Similarly, our distribution network benefits from various initiatives that focus on streamlining ordering, fulfillment, and rewards for tier two and tier three retailers.

We’re excited about initiatives like the HP Real app, which consolidates these efforts into a single platform for data analytics, performance management, and continuous improvement. This holistic approach underscores our commitment to driving synergy, efficiency, and value across our entire ecosystem of partners, ultimately benefiting our customers.

What percentage of your overall revenue is contributed by your channel business?

Approximately 80% of our business, or more than three-quarters, is conducted through the channel on a global scale. This statistic is widely recognized and underscores the crucial role the channel plays in both sustaining and expanding our customer base. Leveraging the channel is essential for us to ensure continued growth and success, particularly as we introduce new devices, solutions, and comprehensive services to the market.

How do you anticipate the unified global platform will pave the way for partner growth and enhance the entire ecosystem of partners?

Our success is intertwined with that of our partners in the market and the satisfaction of our customers. It all begins with a deep understanding of customer needs, cultivated through close collaboration with our channel partners. We not only work with them to drive current initiatives but also encourage them to embrace digitalization and modernization to prepare for the future. This entails upgrading their manpower, tools, and overall readiness to align with evolving market trends. We provide clear definitions of future readiness through programs like Amplify and other local initiatives, ensuring that partners are not just prepared but eager to grow and adapt.

Our commitment to nurturing strong partnerships is evident in our expanding channel footprint. For instance, our exclusive stores have seen significant growth, with their numbers increasing from 400-500 to over 750, covering 450+ cities. This growth is not just in quantity but also in the investment and confidence our partners have placed in us. They’ve expanded their stores and distribution networks, bringing our products closer to customers.

In response to emerging trends like gaming, we’ve innovated with concepts like exclusive gaming stores. Recognizing gaming as a rapidly growing segment, we’ve created dedicated destinations where gamers can not only purchase products but also immerse themselves in the gaming ecosystem. These initiatives, such as our Open Playground stores, have been well-received, with plans for further expansion to meet customer demand.

Our approach is customer-centric, focusing on delivering the best experiences through retail and other go-to-market channels while leveraging the strengths of our channel partners. This, to us, is the essence of future readiness—anticipating customer needs, providing exceptional experiences, and fulfilling them effectively through strategic partnerships.

How prepared are your products for AI integration, and when can consumers expect AI-enabled offerings to be available in the market? Also, how do you plan to collaborate with specialized partners such as ISVs, SIs, or developers to develop unique solutions for consumers?

AI has garnered significant attention in the market, and at HP, we’re actively exploring its potential impact. We’re taking a step back to truly understand what artificial intelligence means for our customers and how it can simplify their lives. Our focus is on identifying end-use cases that can genuinely enhance user experiences. For instance, within our computing business, we’re striving to make our products more intuitive, enabling them to understand and anticipate user needs effectively. This involves exploring solutions that operate both on the cloud and directly on devices, offering a hybrid approach for enhanced functionality.

We’ve already introduced AI-powered products to the market, including the Spectre AI-enabled notebook device, which received positive feedback upon its launch at CES in Vegas. We’ve also brought this innovation to customers in India, emphasizing the country’s significance in our global strategy. Moving forward, you can expect further advancements in AI technology, with new products designed to streamline user experiences even further. Our aim is to make technology more intuitive and accessible for all customers, and you’ll witness ongoing developments aimed at achieving this goal.

How are you ensuring that your partner ecosystem is equipped to effectively sell these products and address any consumer inquiries?

Our end-mile connection with customers primarily relies on our partners, making it imperative for us to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge. Training them is crucial to ensure they comprehend the technologies integrated into our products and can effectively demonstrate their utility and use cases to customers at the point of sale in retail environments. Our HP representatives and sales staff at partner stores are already well-trained in simplifying technical jargon and articulating the benefits and features of our products in a customer-friendly manner.

We’ve also observed a shift in consumer behavior over the past couple of years. Devices are no longer solely used for work or productivity but also for entertainment and educational purposes. Therefore, our focus is on enhancing the overall user experience to seamlessly integrate work, entertainment, and educational needs. We aim to continually upskill our partners to improve their sales capabilities and ensure they can effectively address the diverse requirements of customers across various segments.

In addition to retail, our efforts extend to serving commercial and enterprise customers through SMB channels managed by other teams within our organization. Similar strategies are employed here to educate value sellers and resellers about technology advancements, future trends, and how to better serve customers. By empowering our partners with relevant knowledge and skills, we believe we can foster mutual success and better meet the evolving needs of our clientele.

Where do you anticipate the computing landscape evolving in the next six months to two years, considering your established ecosystem?

First and foremost, let’s acknowledge that the past two and a half to three years have been prosperous for the PC industry. Both fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023 have witnessed robust growth in the market. While there’s currently a slight softening, it’s essential to recognize that this softness is relative to the elevated base we’ve been operating from. If we were at “x” levels pre-COVID, the industry, with HP notably leading, is still operating at about 1.5 times or more of those volumes. This signifies a significantly higher baseline, indicating that the market’s potential remains vast. Our internal discussions and engagements with channel partners revolve around the understanding that India remains an underpenetrated PC market compared to the global landscape. Even more so on the print side of the business.

Firstly, there’s a substantial opportunity for us not only to better serve our existing customer base through refreshes and upsells but also to tap into a broader segment of the market. We’re focusing not only on the towns and cities and segments we currently serve but also on reaching tier three and beyond cities and expanding our customer base. We firmly believe that significant growth and evolution in the coming years will stem from these untapped segments in the market, which we sometimes refer to as the “India plus” strategy.

Secondly, addressing emerging trends such as gaming and the rise of AI is paramount. Gaming has emerged as a significant trend, and AI is poised to be the next big thing. Over the coming days, we’re intensifying our focus and efforts in these areas. At HP, our product category and R&D teams work closely to understand these trends, often ahead of the market, and strive to assume leadership positions.

How has the concept of Managed Print Services evolved over the years, especially in comparison to other concepts in the printing industry? What are your observations and interactions with enterprise customers regarding this evolution?

The evolution of our enterprise printing services has been noteworthy. Initially centered around offering basic printing services to customers on a transactional basis, we’ve transitioned into comprehensive management services over time. These services not only involve managing the print environment but also focus on being intuitive and collaborative with customers to optimize costs and enhance user experiences. This shift has significantly contributed to the growth of our printing business, appealing not just to large enterprises but also to medium and SMB segments due to the evident benefits.

HP has played a leading role in this evolution, not only through our products and services but also through intuitive software, streamlined processes, and enhanced user experiences. Looking ahead, we’re exploring the concept of selling print as a service itself, beyond Managed Print Services. This entails examining opportunities within the broader printing industry, including channels beyond the enterprise sector. India, with its relatively low penetration in the print environment compared to PCs, presents promising avenues for expansion.

In particular, the home use segment is gaining traction, driven by the hybrid work environment and increased consumer awareness. Products like ink tank printers have become significant players in this space, comprising a substantial portion of the overall market. Our focus in the past couple of years has been on expanding our portfolio to cater to this growing segment, aligning with our strategy to capitalize on the continuous ink supply system or ink tank segment.

Have you implemented any measures to curb the prevalence of counterfeit cartridges and grey market activity?

Our focus revolves around educating our customers across various segments, be it individual consumers purchasing from our retail outlets, small and medium-sized businesses procuring through our value resellers, or enterprises making direct or indirect purchases. We strive to impart awareness about the benefits and advantages of using genuine HP products. Over time, we emphasize how utilizing original HP cartridges in our printers not only offers cost efficiency but also eliminates common headaches associated with inferior alternatives, such as frequent issues with printing heads and substandard print quality.

Our channel partners play a pivotal role in this endeavor, as they carry forth this message to our customers. Whether it’s through retail store interactions or through dedicated sales channels, our partners are instrumental in persuading customers to opt for genuine HP products. Additionally, we’ve implemented HP original signage in the market to ensure customers are well-informed about where to find authentic products, thus ensuring they receive the best experiences possible.

Also we’ve taken significant steps to combat counterfeit products through initiatives like our Anti-Counterfeit (ACF) program. Just recently, we announced our results, showcasing the impact of our efforts in restricting counterfeit supplies worth millions of rupees in India, with Mumbai being one of the key areas. While our focus remains on curbing the presence of non-original products in the market, the cornerstone of our strategy lies in convincing customers and continually emphasizing the benefits of choosing genuine HP products. We believe that over time, this message resonates deeply with customers and fosters long-term loyalty and trust in our brand.

How do you perceive the role of partners evolving in the current era of digital disruption? Specifically within your line of business, how do you anticipate the evolution of the partner’s role?

Absolutely, as you pointed out, the role of channel partners is poised to become even more influential in the future. We recognize that channel partners not only need to be convinced but are themselves eager to evolve to the next level. They are highly receptive to adopting digital platforms, whether those are provided directly by HP through our programs or through collaborative efforts with HP. Many of them have already transitioned from basic premise solutions to integrated ERPs and other advanced systems. To support their readiness for the future, we are developing tools and resources tailored to their needs.


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