Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Cloud28+ is a community promoting cloud services and knowledge sharing. We caught up with Andrea Shumaker, Marketing Communications Manager, Service Providers and Cloud28+ Worldwide, to find out more about HPE’s approach to partner marketing.
Andrea, how long has HPE hosted a Marketplace and what was the main business driver for it?
The Cloud28+ community was launched in 2013, followed by its marketplace in 2015. A major EU study showed that only one in five small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) were leveraging cloud computing. The main barrier to adoption was lack of knowledge. HPE wanted to help its partners meet this customer need, and compete effectively against bigger providers. It provides a free platform for HPE partners (no cost to join, no brokerage fees), so could offer significant cost and time-to-market savings. Cloud28+ enables partner sales to end-customers and increases HPE sales to partners.
What impact has the Marketplace had on traditional sales?
All potential sales interactions happen directly between the partner and the end customer, so we do not track the additional sales generated through the platform. However, there have been business gains for HPE because of benefits from Cloud28+, such as partner-to-partner collaboration to create new offerings, and promotion of partner campaigns. HPE is currently promoting select Cloud28+ member services to our own SMB customer base in several markets. The HP sales teams are active ambassadors and users of this tool as part of the collaborative sales program.
How do you manage ‘onboarding’ partners into the Marketplace?
We have worked to make the partner on-boarding process extremely simple. Once companies become members of one of HPE’s accredited partner programs, they simply need to review and agree to the community’s terms and conditions. The Cloud28+ team works with new members to help them post their initial profile, articles, and service offerings. Written guides and live demos are available to help partners get started. Partners are responsible for their own content.
How does the Marketplace tie in with your partner program structure, goals and partner development funds?
All Solution Provider and Service Provider companies within Cloud28+ must be accredited members of the HPE Partner Ready Program. Cloud28+ is completely aligned to the overall HPE partner program structure, and the team sits within HPE’s Indirect Organization. Cloud28+ complements HPE’s overall partner program by providing further means for partners to increase their visibility, create leads, and generate new partner alliances.
How do you measure the effectiveness of your Marketplace?
We track click-throughs/traffic volume to the site, as well partner publishing metrics. We also look at things like partner onboarding, partner feedback, influencer reports, and relevance to partners’ business. Cloud28+ has also increased partner loyalty to our brand.
What impact has hosting the marketplace had on your cost of sale and length of sales cycle?
The costs of hosting Cloud28+ have been relatively negligible. We cover platform development and community management with a streamlined team. We offset costs by offering a group of premium services, such as Spotlight Pages. HPE end-user sellers use Cloud28+ to find the right partner to engage and fulfil their customers’ needs, reducing sales engagement timeframes, and increasing the overall quality of our Hybrid IT sales cycles. SMB sales cycles have been considerably shortened, and HPE and its partners have been able to dramatically reduce the time needed to reply to large public tenders in the EU by quickly forming consortiums. It’s also been particularly helpful for start-ups.
Does the marketplace create any channel conflicts?
Quite the reverse! HPE developed Cloud28+ to demonstrate its commitment to its partner ecosystem. All HPE partners are welcome to join, whether they are solution providers, service providers, distributors, systems integrators, technology partners, ISVs, etc. In 2021, we plan to expand the reach of Cloud28+, enabling resellers to partner with Cloud28+ service providers.
Do you spend time researching and improving the user experience of the marketplace?
We are constantly making subtle modifications to improve the platform’s user experience and launch more consistent platform updates. An updated version of the platform is set to go live this winter. It will be with new features such as widget-based page creation, allowing an easier and faster partner content publishing experience. We conduct focus groups to deepen feedback on Cloud28+. This also feeds into future plans for the platform.