CRN Exclusive: HP 3-D Printing President Nigro On Channel 1.0, Adding New Partners, And The Future Product Road Map

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Bringing 3-D Printing To The Channel

HP 3-D Printing Business President Stephen Nigro, the driving force behind the launch of the company's breakthrough MultiJet Fusion 3-D printer, spoke with CRN about the 'Channel 1.0 plan for the product, adding new partners, and the product road map.

"So the first six months we were placing some units in a controlled fashion, getting some units in, getting customers learning, getting the channel kind of set up," Nigro told CRN. "And the second half of this year is, 'Go sell.' We have our channels pretty well identified for what we call 'Channel 1.0.'"

The channel opportunity for the new printers initially is focused on the 30 elite global partners with deep expertise in the 3-D manufacturing market.

HP says MultiJet Fusion 3-D printing solutions deliver "superior quality physical parts at up to 10 times faster and at half the cost" of current 3-D printers. That is because HP is printing at the "individual voxel level” – what it calls the “3-D equivalent of a 2-D pixel in traditional printing."

Partners say the MultiJet Fusion 3-D printing solutions, which began shipping last year, herald a new era of printer sales growth that is focused squarely on redefining the economics of the intensely competitive production manufacturing market.

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What is channel sales ramp with MultiJet Fusion 3-D printing solutions?

In the first six months, we were in a cautious ramp. We wanted to get products out in customers' hands. We know in spite of all the testing we did in our labs, we were going to make new discoveries when you get into actual customer environments.

So the first six months we were placing some units in a controlled fashion, getting some units in, getting customers learning, getting the channel kind of set up. And the second half of this year is, 'Go sell.' We have our channels pretty well identified for what we call 'Channel 1.0.'

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What partners are stepping up to make the big investments necessary to play in this market?

When we talk to partners, we show them a model. With our first wave – Channel 1.0 -- they had to be able to sell, of course -- show [the products] and service [producing 3-D manufacturing parts]. You have to have those capabilities. We sit down with them and share how it works. Here is your investment, here is what you need to do, here is how many you have to sell, here is your margin and here is your return. We have built this whole model out and let partners know what it looks like.

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What is Channel 1.0 and who are partners that you are working with?

Eighty percent of the channel partners that we signed up are new to HP. So basically these guys today know how to sell 3-D. They know how to sell that solution.

The challenge for the new people that aren't in 3-D is they have to make a decision to get into it and then they have to build enough capabilities so they can go sell it. In a lot of cases, you have to call on someone different. You are not calling on the CIO or the purchasing manager. You are calling on the engineering manager or talking to the operations manager. So it is a different selling motion. The challenge for the channel to get into this is they have to be able to sell solutions, understand 3-D and be able to reach out to the right end customer.

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What partners have the easiest point of entry into the 3-D printing opportunity?

Anybody that is calling on manufacturing/engineering or customers that design physical products. That includes [product] designers or architectural firms or anyone making products -- consumer products, automotive products. Think of all the multiple tiers of auto [parts] suppliers.

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