HP Inc, well known for its strong channel presence, will be expanding its reach in the new year.

Mike van Lier, southern Africa district and channel sales manager at HP South Africa, tells Channelwise that moves are afoot to enable channel partners to tackle document contracts for customers.

“HP’s biggest strength is its channel,” he explains. “But our traditional transactional channel doesn’t necessarily understand how to operate in the contract market.”

Having grown out of the photocopier environment, the contract market works on a usage model rather than an outright sale. “And that is not how the transactional channel is used to working,” Van Lier point out.

Van Lier joined HP from Samsung, and the contract model was already working there. “We were well on our way to making it work at Samsung. We had Teropa as a distributor and were building up a group of super-dealers.”

With HP’s acquisition of Samsung, the two companies are slowly merging their channel structures.

“Within the next 12 months, Samsung printers will no longer exist as a hardware brand, and the two channels will be amalgamated.”

As it stands now, Teropa is operating as a value-added distributor, with 14 resellers focused on the contract market, with the traditional HP distributors still working in the transactional desktop space.

Over the next 18 months, HP will move to merging the channels and will develop a single contract for all partners.

“The transactional channel has so many strengths that we need to leverage,” van Lier points out. “But future growth is going to come from the contract channel.”

Another change that will benefit channel partners is the availability of the online print management tool, TechPulse, to the channel.

This gives a close insight into the customer’s installation and allows the reseller to remotely monitor usage and system health.

“It allows the reseller to give great service and elevates his to selling a service rather than a product,” van Lier explains. “At the same time, it ensures that the customer gets a great experience.”

Looking forward to 2019, van Lier says HP is pursuing three strategies: managed print services and the contract channel; more and better services; and a move to digital transformation throughout the channel.

“If we can get this right, we are going to have a very successful 18 months. If reseller partners don’t get in board, we have to question whether they will have a sustainable business.”