Lenovo DCG Partners on Track for Growth and New Opportunities

The number of Lenovo DCG platinum partners has increased by 45% this year.

Lynn Haber

July 1, 2020

5 Min Read
Man standing in virtual data center

Lenovo DCG partners saw a successful rollout of a revamped partner program that included a reassigned coverage model and a more competitive stance to win new customers. That’s according to Steve Biondi, head of partnerships and channels, North America Data Center Group (DCG) at Lenovo. Next up is getting partners enablement for end-to-end virtual solution delivery.

Biondi is six months into his new position with Lenovo DCG. He was on board for the company’s most recent quarterly earnings, which were less than stellar. DCG revenue declined 8.7% year-on-year due to hyperscale demand and commodity price declines, the vendor said. Non-hyperscale revenue grew 5.3% year-on-year, driven by double-digit revenue growth in software defined infrastructure (SDI), storage, software and services.


Lenovo’s Steve Biondi

“When I got here in January, the partner program was more behavior-based than I was anticipating. Meaning, whether you were a silver or platinum partner and acquired a new customer, you got the same bonuses, had the same level of requirements, same attributes, and so on. So, I fixed that,” Biondi told Channel Futures. “I want partners to see that growing and aspiring to go up levels in the program affords you better discounts, margins, support, and more.”

When Biondi replaced Stefan Bockhop, former executive director, DCG channel, North America, he had three top goals. They were fixing the partner program, accelerating growth, and getting more assertive with competitive bidding.

Change Happens

Today, the number of platinum-level Lenovo DCG partners is up 45% from the beginning of the most recent quarter. Biondi bases success on changes to the coverage model, meaning a more dedicated focus on partners who move the needle.

“We have dedicated teams for our national solution providers and distribution, for example. That translates into more traction with those partners. Distribution partners are really good at acquiring partners on your behalf if you give them the targets and scope — and we’ve enabled that,” he said.

Biondi isn’t referring to bringing on a broad swath of partners; instead, he means being surgical about attracting new partners in particular, vertical markets, or product sets. In fact, Lenovo is attracting partners who are new to selling its products.

The NA channel lead also said Lenovo and partners show up more.

“We’re less inclined to shy away from fights, and as a result, we’re satisfying a lot more customer solutions and opportunities. And, partners are gravitating toward it,” he said.

Biondi says Lenovo’s supply chain performance in the midst of the global pandemic has been healthy. Biondi chalks that up a supply chain spread around the globe; also, being able to weave and dodge impacted geographies. This allows the vendor to stay on track with shipping and delivery schedules.

Keep up with the latest developments in how the channel is supporting partners and customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

“A lot of partners gravitate to us because of that. And we continue to satisfy what partners and customers are looking for,” said Bondi.

Lenovo is a channel-first company. Every opportunity Lenovo finds goes to a partner.

“We also have a channel-neutral compensation model. That, and having a partner program that rewards activity with our partners, having proper coverage of those partners, and having …

… a nonconfrontational approach to working with partners to sell our solutions will pay off for us, and has thus far,” said Bondi.

What’s ahead for the next six months or so?

The company will continue to help Lenovo DCG partners who need it. An example includes offering financial terms to support their businesses and make them whole. Or, offering services and facilities, as needed, Biondi said.

Lenovo DCG also is seeing more customers doing end-to-end buying virtually. That’s turning the focus to revamping enablement.

“We’re going down a clearer path in terms of solutions — VDI, hybrid cloud, data analytics, among other technologies,” said Biondi.

New Deliverables

Biondi talked about having three deliverables at a time. He referred to one offer as being “crayon-ready,” referring to delivering an offer to someone not very technical. The second deliverable is “business-ready.” That means delivering a good solution and value proposition to satisfy the customer’s need. The third is “nerd-read.” That means being able to facilitate delivery and deployment of a reference architecture, for example.

“We’re enabling partners to do this end-to-end electronically. That means revamping our enablement so partners can do that. If the crisis [pandemic] continues, partners will be able to perform and deliver, but also, coming out of it, people will be more accustomed to a different way of consuming information,” said Biondi.

The first iteration of the three deliverable approaches will roll out soon.

As-a-service consumption is also more attractive to businesses as the pandemic continues and will probably continue in the future; for example, hardware as a service and device as a service.

“Because of our position in the market, our technology, we will be able to pivot to that much more quickly than other players in this space,” Biondi shared with us.

The first step is to establish the enablement pieces, then weave in the as-a-service consumption, including cloud service providing, managed service providing, and so on.

“We will embrace virtual deployment more aggressively. That will be the focus we’re pursuing,” said Biondi, with the help of alliance partners such as Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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