Lenovo Accelerate: Betting Big on the Channel in 2012
So I’m packing my bags for Las Vegas for next week’s Lenovo Accelerate 2012 partner event, May 14-16 at the Mandalay Bay. I’ll admit to a bit of envy at The VAR Guy’s Bahamas gig, but hey, sunshine is sunshine, and Vegas has plenty of it.
Those of you who attended last year’s Accelerate remember Denver Broncos great John Elway was the surprise guest at the event. This year, not to be outdone, Lenovo has invited another football legend, Jerry Rice (who, according to Wikipedia, is widely considered to be the greatest wide receiver of all time), to speak with partners during the event.
But, aside from the constant need for sunglasses and abnormally high testosterone levels during the general session on Tuesday, what are some of the things I can expect to glean from the two-day shindig? Chris Frey, Lenovo’s North American channel chief, said there will be a whole of affirmations of Lenovo’s commitment to its channel partners.
“When you’re No. 2 in the market and laser set on becoming No. 1, we know we can’t do it without our partners,” Frey said. “Our business goes through the channel, and if it wasn’t channel-led or channel-fed we know we never could have gotten where we’re at.”
To show how important its partners are, Lenovo is set to unveil initiatives that better reward its partners and help them move deeper into the market. In no certain order, they include:
- Cash is King: Lenovo plans to roll out an incentive program that rewards both the owner and sales rep of the channel partner company. Frey was light on the details, but he did say it will be a cash program that will be “very easy program to execute, because more complex it is, people pay less attention to it.” Makes sense.
- Lenovo Will Be Your Server: Lenovo already has dipped its toes into the server space, but Frey noted the company sees servers as a critical next step in its evolution and many channel partners’ networking strategies. At Accelerate, the company plans to launch new servers and discuss how it plans to play in the server market, starting with one-way and two-way servers and eventually moving into the data center.
- Servicing the Server Business: To help its partners move into the server market, Lenovo is founding a special channel server organization that also will include workstations, dedicated to teaching and training partners on why they should recommend Lenovo. “It will have the same kind of technology and innovation that we have with our [desktop and laptop] clients, and the programs will be funded at about [twice] the level that clients are,” Frey said.
- New Blood, and Lots of It: Sammy Kinlaw has been named director of Distribution Sales, which means his job is to “leverage Lenovo’s programs and make sure distribution as close to partners as possible.” Reporting to Kinlaw will be an expanded group of Lenovo reps calling on the channel.
“We want our partners to understand we are putting a lot of money into our channel,” between the incentive programs and channel-dedicated programs, Frey said. “We continue to pay significant money for new business, and … we are going to have more money available for partners to earn than they’ve ever had opportunity to earn in the history of our company in North America.”