Lenovo Leaving ‘Missteps’ Behind, Ready to ‘Do a Better Job’ with Partners
LENOVO ACCELERATE — This year’s Lenovo Accelerate is new in more ways than one. For starters, the vendor is sending a loud and clear message to partners — Lenovo lost its way with the channel and is determined to turn that around by making a channel-first commitment. The other noticeable change at year’s Accelerate, is that it’s a combined partner and customer event, unlike in previous years where Lenovo held two separate events.
Big change is often accompanied by shake-up and new blood at the top of the organization. As a reminder, Lenovo had six North American presidents in as many years. Most recently, the company hired Nicole Roskill, executive director, global channels, Data Center Group (DCG), and Kevin Hooper, president of North American Data Center group sales. Both Roskill and Hooper joined Lenovo in February. In Roskill’s case, it was time to establish a new global channel leadership role.
Channel Futures caught up with Roskill to talk about her new position, goals and the company’s new focus on partners. Roskill’s background includes 12 years at IBM, followed by five years at Avnet Technology Solutions, two with Avnet leading OEM sales, and a short stint in channel consulting.
Globally, about 80-85% of Lenovo business goes through partners. In the U.S., that figure is closer to 50%, largely because the U.S. organization was on a path, over the last couple of years, to build more of a direct organization. That has changed. Kevin Hooper is the new president in North America, and together with Roskill, Lenovo is reorienting its business around the channel.
Channel Futures: What was Lenovo’s thinking behind creating the new global channel role — one that you’ve been in for about 90 days now?
Nicole Roskill: There’s not been a global channel leader at Lenovo. Over the past two years, the executive team has invested in building a channel leader in each of our five geographies. Now that we have those leaders in place, it made sense to put someone in global to think about how we get economies of scale, how we take best practices from geography to geography, and replicate where we’re seeing strength in the way we engage with partners.
For the past 90 days, I’ve been focused on learning our business, understanding the capabilities in each of our geos and starting to make recommendations on things I think will help us to drive a much stronger channel engagement.
CF: What are your job responsibilities?
NR: My primary responsibility is how we start to get greater scale with our partners. We recognize that our success depends on the strength of our partner ecosystem. They’re a critical route to market for us. We need more focus on partners as an extension of our own sales team and we need to think about how we support and engage partners, certainly as we’re focused on building out a more robust portfolio of offerings.
Our partners have tremendous skills sets within their own organizations and our goal is to provide partners with a compelling portfolio on which they can layer their own IP and expertise, and their own unique offering in their market. We must do a better job …