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Narinder Sandhu

Team Leader

CSY Solution Providers Solution Team

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The Care and Feeding of Solution Provider Seedlings

HP got serious about its relationship with HP 3000 application providers this year, reviving partnerships and forming new target markets. At the center of the North American renaissance is Narinder Sandhu, the new head of the HP 3000 division (CSY) Software Partner Solutions Team. Before his current posting, Sandhu managed the division’s large accounts escalation solution team, one of the expert centers that CSY began operating just a few years ago. After a successful meeting this fall in Dallas with more than 60 partners, Sandhu is leading CSY’s effort to produce a new picture for 3000 applications within the next nine months. We asked him how his team would be expanding the universe of applications for a platform that has survived on partners which couldn’t count on HP’s help — and what CSY is ready to do to make more applications available.

What kinds of things will you be able to do for the HP 3000 software suppliers you’ve identified and engaged with?
There are three areas where we can support an ISV: sales, marketing and technical solutions. We’re really sitting down and listening to them to find out their needs. The key part is listening, and aligning ourselves to what they want us to do to make them successful.

What have you found out about what ISVs need?
There were some key technical needs like the GUI front end. If you look at the portfolio for ISVs, some of them are on VPlus, and they need to move their software to a new GUI front end. Some of them have solved that issue, and they need to move to a Web front end. There’s a range of things.

The other issues we find are more on the sales and marketing end. Four or five years ago we let them go and stopped talking to them, and this is key: re-engaging with them. Some of them have built their own ecosystems around themselves, their own support structures. We need to do the same for everything. [CSY Marketing Manager] Christine [Martino] has given us very clear directions that we need ISV-specific plans. We’ll sit down with each of them. We’ll look at the revenue potential with them, look at their needs. If there are common needs, we’ll have common programs for everybody. If they need specific programs, we’ll have that.

What about that revenue potential? Are you talking about the revenue they’ll generate in their market, or what kind of an impact you think you can have on their company’s revenue?
It’s the potential that we see in each of them. There are some new ones creeping up, like Joe Geiser’s [WebStore/3000]. I am fascinated by that application, and I see a lot of potential over there. We need to connect with him and help him in any way to make his business successful, whether he wants to do business in Australia or over here [in North America].

What about 3000 software companies that don’t want to get any bigger?
We find ourselves wanting to grow our business along with theirs. If they don’t want to [grow], because they want to keep it stable, then there’s some misalignment. There’s only so many things we can do for this kind of company.

Have you run into anyone who’s in a market segment for the HP 3000 that you had no idea would be another good vertical?
We are excited to see some in auto insurance claims. There’s some partners we’ve been talking to that have been in the business for a while and have some huge customers. We see a lot of potential in that area. Decision Research Corporation in Hawaii has AIG Marketing as one of their largest customers. AIG Marketing wants all of their insurance business on the HP 3000. It’s a huge installation, and they run their claim management on the DRC application.

One of the truisms of businesses is that 20 percent of the customers generate 80 percent of the business. Does that seem to apply to the ISV partners that you’ve contacted, or is it more split up?
You have the strong leaders, and then you have a whole bunch of people who are more disparate. We are seeing some patches of some seedlings which we believe could grow into big evergreens, like the larger ISVs. Over the next few months we’ll find out which of them have a better potential to grow. It really depends on them and their strategy and motivation. Our goal is to work with all of them, because I think one realization within the division is that our success depends upon their success. We need to make all them successful.

How big of a group of ISVs are you prepared to support at this level of involvement?
We’re not putting a cap on it at this time. With the kind of change that CSY went through to become customer-focused, where it became ingrained in all of us, we need to do the same thing with our ISVs. Everybody in the division should understand what the ISVs’ needs are. Our investment should be driven based on that.

How far is what you’re doing in North America reaching into the 3000’s European market? Are you running a global program, or starting in North America?
It’s quite a global program, but in the case of Europe, they’ve really done a good job of understanding the [ISVs’] needs. They’re very much ahead of us here in North America. Our role will be to help them with their technical needs. We’re going to play more of a support role for them.

When you’re working with solution providers, how is what you’re doing intersecting with the e-services message?
There’s another revenue potential for some of these ISVs, and we’ll be there along with them to help them generate this new revenue. [E-services] is really a new revenue model, and some of these apps have businesses and customers who couldn’t use their applications because of the cost. We’re driving the costs down in this market with this.

Has there been skepticism you’ve run into as you’ve re-engaged with ISVs in the 3000 market?
There are some of the ISVs who have a wait-and-see attitude, but we’re going to follow up with them. We need to make sure we do follow up, and it’s my responsibility. That’s why I want my number to be available to them anytime. We’ve pulled all the best marketing and R&D people in the division on this, so it’s a really strong team that our ISV partners can tap into.

Did you create job positions to build this team? Are there fresh line items in your CSY org chart? I’d heard some of your team members still consult with larger 3000 customers, like State Farm.
Yes. Moving legacy applications to the Web is no different from moving an ISV’s application. It’s the same skill set, same knowledge that’s needed.

Can you give a specific example of the kind of technical assistance a vendor might be able to get if they were being re-engaged?
If somebody wants to run a benchmark for a big sales deal, we would help them with that. We’ll have a host from our team assigned to them to work with the Solution Providers Program to work on that. Another is just moving an app to a GUI front end. Telenomics was a good example; with Speedware helping out, the whole application had a new front end in a week using Autobahn. We created those linkages. The key is to leverage, because we cannot do everything.

Is there a role that Java has to play in the renaissance of the small 3000 solution provider?
Some of our ISVs are going to look on Java as their GUI solution, and they are going to do a complete rewrite based on Java. It all depends on how much investment they want to do in their business.

What kind of specific marketing help can you supply?
Success stories getting written for ISVs, where we go to a contracting company to have them written. Trade shows and user groups are two key areas; we want to be in every user group of every ISV and support them on their road shows.

If an ISV wanted to raise their profile in this market, how would you tell them to do it?
They have opportunities of doing mailings, and a number of software vendors have taken advantage of that. Success stories in so many channels.

Have you encountered any resistance to getting more involved in the market because of price points on the hardware?
We are hearing less of that, but there is some. The other way around that is apps-on-tap. It’s an easy entry point for anybody at low cost. There are a lot more ISVs who want to do that model than we can handle right now.

You’re making a strong case for being able to listen, but will the ISVs expect more?
The key thing is following through with them, not just listening.


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