**Editor's Note: Click here for a list of recent channel-program changes you should know.**
HP's channel executives are working on some important upgrades, and the company today held a call with its resellers and CEO Meg Whitman to discuss those efforts.
Doug Oathout, vice president of worldwide channel marketing for HP's enterprise group, told Channel Partners on Friday the event would feature Whitman and Dave Donatelli, executive vice president and general manager within the enterprise division, answering questions. And Whitman's presence, especially, on such a call marks a new direction for HP.
"This is a different attitude and different exposure to our CEO," said Oathout. "As we go through our turnaround, [partners] see we're keeping them under the tent with us and understand where we're going."
HP continues to make changes in response to recent executive turnover and the bloated Autonomy acquisition. Oathout said Whitman would field inquiries about any specific items.
"Since she ran for governor of California, she's not afraid of any questions. She'll sit there until the questions are done."
To that point, the crux of the call was to address ongoing improvements within the HP partner program. As an example, HP is spending $100 million on a Salesforce.com implementation, branding the resulting platform as HP Unison.
"It's important for us to get our partners the latest tools," said Oathout.
The CRM tool now offers PRM as well, and HP plans to introduce new functionality as a result.
"Our partner site is going to look like Facebook, not a sales portal," Oathout said.
HP will start rolling out its Salesforce.com platform in August and the rollout will take place across different regions until August 2014.
Meanwhile, Oathout and Page Murray, vice president of worldwide channel marketing, managed premium personal systems, are putting six partner programs into one. HP announced the change at its partner conference in February and the consolidation work continues.
"Our go-to-market is going to become very strong," said Oathout. "We're going to go from being just a part-number-based company to solutions-based."
As such, HP is focusing on cloud, big data, security, desktop management, technology and managed services and print, Oathout said.
"We're changing the top focus of the program to enable partners to become services companies," he said. "All this stuff is based in software now so they don't have to be systems integrators anymore to do a big project."