HP Discover, Las Vegas – While the IT channel may be feeling the strain of the current recession more than others, senior HP channel executives have little doubt that it will bounce back and continue to thrive in the future.

Terry Richardson, vice-president of US Channels for HP’s Enterprise Group, says that many of the larger distributors are already evolving their business models to adapt to the changing market.

“A lot of people are calling into question whether distributors can survive from a cost standpoint,” Richardson says. “Is the cost and value being aligned? But if a distributor adds value to HP then it is a lot easier for us to pay for some of these costs. Value evolves all the time and we are constantly looking at our distribution partners in terms of development, recruitment, readiness and training.

“We have some distribution partners in the US who have taken things to another level,” he adds. “Avnet, for example, is providing numerous services via the cloud which are available to those VARs who haven’t got the necessary expertise or infrastructure.

“That is one of the ways that a distributor can redefine their value proposition,” he says.

Scott Dunsire, vice-president and GM, PPS Channel, has a more pragmatic viewpoint on the future of channel partners.

“If you look at the channel in general, it is filled with entrepreneurial-type people who have, over the years, run into some very difficult positions,” Dunsire says. “The ones that once again successfully adapt to the changing market conditions are the ones that will continue to do well. Moving from a product-based model to a services-based model presents huge opportunity in the mid-market space.

“There are literally millions of SMBs globally who can’t afford to get to the next level and who will look to leverage off their resellers,” he says. “Whether it is mobility, big data, managed print, many of our channel partners have expertise in these areas. If a mid-sized company isn’t going to get support direct from the vendor, then they are going to turn to the VAR channel.

“Even in the product-based channel there is going to be opportunities,” he adds. “When Microsoft discontinues support for Windows XP next year, there will be 140-million PCs that will need to be refreshed. There are also statistics that point out the mobile market will be worth $42-billion next year, while cloud is estimated at around $212-billion.

“So there are some huge opportunities looming for the channel,” he adds. “Times may be tough at present, but we all know how quickly things can change in the channel.”