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May 17, 2011
The keynote sessions have just wrapped up at Lenovo Accelerate: Channel Partner Forum 2011. How’s this for ironic: At a time when most IT vendors are talking about services and cloud computing, Lenovo made a compelling case for product innovations driving channel partner success. Here are the top seven keynote highlights — including public confirmation that Lenovo will launch Google Android tablets in mid-2011.
1. Small Partners Can Thrive: Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang said small VARs were the secret ingredient to helping Lenovo become a giant in China. He predicted that small partners will lead Lenovo to similar success in North America.
2. No Services Push: Yang said channel partners drive 85 percent of Lenovo’s North America sales. Also, Lenovo President and COO Rory Read said Lenovo will never build a services organization, and he promised that Lenovo will never acquire an IT services business. He told channel partners — repeatedly — that Lenovo will not compete with he channel.
3. Marketing Push: Chief Marketing Officer David Roman described a “For Those Who Do” marketing campaign that will connect the dots between the consumerization of IT and small businesses. The VAR Guy has to double-check some data points, but it sounds like only one in 10 consumers are aware of Lenovo when shopping for a PC. Roman intends to change that while creating demand in the SMB market as well.
4. Leapfrogging Rivals: Senior VP Peter Hortensius described how Lenovo continues to leapfrog rivals. According to IDC stats, Lenovo’s Q4 2010 all-in-one PC market share was 15.75 percent, leading HP (14.53%), Dell (7.21%) and Acer (4.25%).
5. Innovations Continue: Hortensius pointed to continued R&D innovations, highlighting the new X1 notebook. Rapid Charge technology allows the new X1 laptop to charge 80 percent in 30 minutes. Keyboard Noise Reduction minimizes keyboard typing noise while on VoIP calls. And instant resume maintains wireless connection while in sleep mode. The new X1 laptop captures all of those innovations, and “in many ways beats” the MacBook Air, he asserted.
6. Here Come the Tablets: Hortensius said Lenovo will deliver IdeaPad and ThinkPad tablets running Google Android this summer. Lenovo also is developing a Windows tablet, he added.
7. Channel First: North America Channel Chief Chris Frey promised that Lenovo will remain “channel first.” On the North American front, US partners have generated 20 percent unit growth and 26 percent revenue growth year over year. Canada partners have generated 25 percent year over year growth and 40 percent revenue growth, Frey said. On the distribution front, Lenovo has seen 15 percent unit growth year over year, and 21 percent revenue growth year over year growth. Overall, top partners generated 30 percent year over year growth, Frey said.
Frey and other Lenovo executives evangelized a cross-sell and upsell push, motivating partners to push beyond ThinkPad mobile devices to promote all-in-one desktops and SMB servers.
Frey said Lenovo will:
Be simple, predictable and consistent
Deliver best of breed partner programs
Enable channel partners
The internal efforts at Lenovo, Frey said, will include:
Investment in people and training
Business partner profitability
Line of business conversations for desktop, workstation and server solutions
Partner ease of doing business
Strategic thinking and business acumen
Planning , creating and driving partner success
Most of the Lenovo partner summit has focused on momentum and growth. No doubt, Lenovo sounds confident. But The VAR Guy has to do some homework. The big question: Just how much profit can Lenovo deliver to partners — especially as more and more solutions providers focus on managed and cloud services?
At a time when there’s so much noise about shrinking hardware margins, Lenovo and its channel partners sound upbeat. “I’m pretty fired up about where we’re going to go together,” concluded Frey.
Are channel partners fired up too? The VAR Guy is poking around for answers.
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