Lenovo Leaving ‘Missteps’ Behind, Ready to ‘Do a Better Job’ with Partners
… across this partner journey so that every touch point with Lenovo DCG is positive, efficient and focused on helping partners to mitigate risk they have in their business and grow.
CF: You talk about Lenovo changing course with partners — tell us more.
NR: We have thousands of partners on the DCG side of the business; what we must focus on is how we effectively activate those partners. We need to be having more conversations with partners; we need to be enabling them across the portfolio where it makes sense and where it’s complementary to their own capabilities.
It would be fair to say that we had a number of missteps after 2014 [when Lenovo acquired IBM’s x86 business]. In the couple of years after the acquisition, we had some challenges in the way we were working with partners. A good representation of the challenge: We integrated the salesforce of IDG (Intelligent Device Group) and DCG, so we expected a PC seller to also sell a server, and its different engagement, a different selling process, and often, a different decision maker. I think our partners wondered why we had done that and were nervous that we didn’t understand the data center.
We’ve had some rebuilding to do.
We’ve made a channel-first commitment, and what that means is that we lead with partners. This is a recognition of how critical partners are to our success and our recognition that we must be a better partner to them. We must give partners something to build a business on top of. So this is about creating opportunity and giving it to partners. This is about having very clear rules of engagement around when Lenovo would be in the market versus the partner. We have had issues in the past that we’re addressing.
We expect our employees to honor those rules of engagement. If a customer comes to Lenovo asking for a direct quote, even though they’re working with a partner, we’re making the commitment that we will not provide a direct quote to a customer without the partner’s approval, and if the customer decides they want to purchase direct, we will give credit toward their [partner program] tiering.
CF: Talk about this year’s Accelerate being a combined partner and customer event.
NR: This is exciting given it offers our partners an opportunity to host their customers. Prior, the customer event Lenovo Transform was separate; it was held in New York last fall. Accelerate was strictly partners. But here today, you have customers and partners. We have some partner tracks because we want to take the opportunity to have partners here in person, take some training and education. There are also some breakout sessions for customers.
On the Showcase floor, there’s the Partner Zone. Our Velocity transformation initiative focuses on how we help partners have a frictionless experience with us — so, ease of use, and systems and tools that allow partners to interact with us in a very easy way. An example of Velocity, in April we launched, to a select group of partners, a refreshed quoting tool, based on the feedback we got from partners that the quoting process was too cumbersome.
We have seen since April 77% of quotes are delivered in under an hour and 95% of quotes are delivered in under four hours.
CF: What’s your top message to partners here at Lenovo Accelerate?
NR: Partners are critical to us. You’re going to see us show up more. We are listening to partners and we are making the changes to our systems, tools, processes and organization to get geared for partners as our primary route to customers.