Hewlett-Packard last week unveiled a revamped channel strategy, geared to stimulate sales and foster closer ties with distributors in the Asia-Pacific region. The initiative, called PartnerONE, spans the entire HP products and services portfolio, providing benefits to the information technology giant's more than 10,000 channel partners in the region. Channel, or indirect sales partners, include system integrators, independent software developers, network services providers, value-added resellers and other dealers. Following its merger with Compaq Computer a year ago this month, HP has gained more than 210,000 channel partners in 160 countries. These distributors have accounted for about 90 per cent of total HP annual sales worldwide, covering personal computers, servers, printers and other products. Adrian Koch, senior vice-president at HP's personal systems group in the Asia-Pacific and Japan, said: 'We want to be a predictable partner.' First delivered in the United States and Europe, PartnerONE was designed to align HP's marketing programmes with the channel. This was expected to remove any lingering doubts about HP's 'blended' marketing approach, which combined direct and indirect sales efforts. Mr Koch said the two-pronged drive - to sell directly and through distributors - 'puts more value and increased proximity' to HP products for customers in Asia. Healthier profit margins for HP and its channel partners are also assured in this arrangement. PartnerONE was aimed at lowering the cost of partner sales activities, 'especially during a tough economy', Mr Koch said. It also enabled HP to measure a reseller's performance and boost the overall quality of services. Asia-Pacific PartnerONE programmes, implemented by HP this month, included member accreditation, the HP Certified Professional training programme, sales and distribution activities, and a partner portal. Those moves relied strongly on increased communications between HP, its channel partners and customers, Mr Koch explained. An advisory board comprising HP management and regional wholesalers and resellers will discuss channel issues every quarter. Representatives from about 18 distributors (including Tech Pacific Group, Digiland International and JOS) are part of the board. 'Through PartnerONE, HP has set forth clear benefits to its partners and streamlined channel interaction and processes,' Tech Pacific Group chief executive Shailendra Gupta said. 'We are encouraged to commit fresh resources, and will continue to focus and leverage each other to provide consistent, high-quality solutions to our customers.' The second phase of PartnerONE starts next month. HP will provide partners with a quarterly planning tool, online performance reporting, and online funds claim processes and reports. All these will enable partners to keep up-to-date with product rebates, marketing funds and incentives payment status. Mr Koch said HP planned to further simplify its incentive programme for Asia-Pacific partners with standard criteria across HP's various business units. Avneesh Saxena, vice-president of computing systems research at International Data Corp Asia-Pacific, expected PartnerONE to help HP drive its expansion efforts in the region's largest IT markets: China, South Korea, India and Australia.