Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Next initiative to streamline operations is set to kick into high gear with the appointment of a new global sales leader, Phil Davis (pictured), and the exit of U.S. sales chief Jim Merritt and EMEA sales chief Andy Isherwood.
Davis, who was regional managing director of Asia-Pacific for the Enterprise Group and has been with the company for four years, will take the role of chief sales officer effective Nov. 1, the start of HPE's fiscal year 2018.
"When we began the search for a new leader, I knew we needed someone who could inspire the team and create a clear vision for our sales force," said HPE President Antonio Neri in email to HPE employees. "I am proud that we found that person within our own team."
Davis, a 17-year technology sales veteran, has been a strong channel advocate during his Asia-Pacific tenure, sources said. Davis "embodies our values – he is a great partner to our customers and with the channel, he innovates by actively pushing our team to evolve our sales techniques, and his track record proves he knows how to act and get the job done," said Neri.
Neri, who is leading the HPE Next initiative to simplify and streamline the company, told CRN earlier this week that HPE is removing "several layers" in order to make decisions closer to customers. The HPE Next initiative is aimed at effectively creating a new blueprint for the company in the wake of the spin-in mergers of HPE's $20 billion enterprise services business into DXC and its legacy software business to Micro Focus.
The HPE Next initiative is aimed in part at taking out as much as $200 million to $300 million in additional costs out of the company. "Ultimately, we want a company that is easy to work with and easy to do business," said Neri. "My view is partners are going to see a company that is easier to do business and much more agile with a modern set of tools and applications to engage them. They are going to see people empowered – people empowered to make decisions closer to the customer."
For partners, the changes will give them the ability to "make more money easier," said Neri. "We know that despite the fact the channel loves us, which is reflected in studies and everything we hear from partners and customers, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity going forward by removing the barriers that are unfortunately in the way because of the complexity in the business sometimes."
HPE has said the changes will result in faster price quotes and speedier decision-making in the field. What's more, the company has said it could lead to fewer SKUs on some product lines.
In the email to HPE employees, Neri said Merritt and Isherwood are retiring from HPE after they assist with transitions into the first quarter of HPE's fiscal year 2018.
"Jim has been a leader at HPE for more than six years," said Neri in the email. "He has been instrumental in building our business around the world, driving profitable growth in APJ [Asia-Pacific Japan] and most recently in the North America business turnaround. What I admire the most in Jim is his passion for customers, his leadership to deliver profitable growth and his ability to develop leaders. On a personal note, Jim has been a great friend to me and I’ve learned a lot from him. I will miss him greatly."
Isherwood has been similarly "instrumental in our success as a business during his nearly three decades with the company," said Neri. "His leadership abilities were visible from his first days as part of HP’s graduate training program, over various roles and geographies, and through his current role leading our sales organization in EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa]. He has made many contributions in his career at HP/HPE, but what I will miss the most about Andy is his focus on our customers and partners, his energy and his desire to win."
Michael Goldstein, CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., solution provider, said HPE Next could have a dramatic impact in the sales trenches. "HPE needs to simplify," he said. "Right now it takes too long to get a price quote and there are too many server configurations. It's confusing. Oftentimes, the client comes back and is confused because of the multiple price quotes they are getting from different sources."
HPE needs to provide fewer options for partners and customers, said Goldstein. In fact, he said, HPE could learn a lesson from how simple it is to buy a new Acura where there are minimal options for customers. "That's why I chose an Acura rather than another car," he said. "That made it simple for me to make the decision to buy an Acura. HPE needs to do the same thing with its pricing and server options."
The CEO of one of HPE's top enterprise partners, who did not want to be identified, said he is hopeful the HPE Next initiative will streamline pricing so he can spend more time hunting for new customers rather than dealing with HPE processes.
One area in which he is particularly looking for help from HPE is with the HPE Complete program, which provides the opportunity to bundle cutting-edge products like Arista and Qumulo with HPE infrastructure. Today, the CEO said, the pricing from HPE Complete is simply not competitive with the price from the partner programs from Arista and Qumulo.
"What happens is the pricing from HPE on the Complete portfolio offerings is not as competitive as it needs to be," he said. "Then I have to just go through all these hoops and hurdles to convince people at HPE what is really going on in the marketplace. I can end up spending 70 percent of my time trying to get the right pricing. It is frustrating for me, my sales reps and HPE."
If HPE Next is successful, the CEO said, it will directly impact the success of his business. "I'm hoping it will make life easier for me and my sales reps so we can spend more time dealing with customers and finding new opportunities," he said.