Lenovo: Special Financing for Small Business VARs

Lenovo and De Lage Landen -- two Channel Finance 25 companies -- continue to expand their financing programs for VARs and managed services providers. The latest example: The Lenovo Partner Credit program, in partnership with De Lage Landen, now offers U.S. resellers up to 60 days of interest-free credit. The program involves such distributors as D&H, Ingram Micro, Synnex and Tech Data. The bigger long-term question: Will Lenovo continue marching forward and perhaps even launch a hardware as a service (HaaS) effort for VARs and MSPs? Here are some early insights.

First, Lenovo's perspective on the new financing program. "I don't know of any other PC manufacturer doing this today," asserted Diane Croessman, executive director of Global Financial Services at Lenovo. "Cash remains king in the reseller community so this program should help with our partners' cash flow."

Croessmann predicts Lenovo will continue the 60-day, interest-free program for U.S. partners indefinitely. And the program will likely be extended to Canadian partners in Q4 2011, Croessmann added.

Overall, Croessmann thinks the small business financing and partner financing climates have improved over the past couple of years. "In my personal opinion it's getting better but it hasn't been revived to  the point of where it was [before the 2008 credit crunch started," she said.

The Lenovo Partner Credit Program is a joint program between Lenovo and De Lage Landen Financial Services -- another Channel Finance 25 company. According to a prepared statement from John C. Reed, president, De Lage Landen Commercial Finance. ”SMB financing is a core competency for De Lage Landen and an underserved product offering in the channel.”

Inflection Point Coming

Meanwhile, The VAR Guy will be watching to see if Lenovo connects the dots between leasing, financing and hardware as a service (HaaS). Google on June 15 is expected to launch Chromebooks for Business -- a combination of netbook hardware, Chrome OS software, and Google Apps that will cost businesses $28 per user per month and schools $20 per user per month. Google has partnered with Acer and Samsung on the Chromebooks for Business effort.

Elsewhere, companies like CharTec and Equus continue to promote HaaS to their VAR and MSP communities. CharTec will celebrate a major office expansion later this month, and Equus is quietly partnering with Synnex on a range of managed services efforts.

No doubt, PC vendors like Lenovo are watching the Google and HaaS strategies closely. During the Lenovo Partner Summit in May, Channel Chief Chris Frey said Lenovo was watching the HaaS and managed services market closely. Lenovo in 2010 launched a purpose-built server designed for MSPs. And sources say Lenovo could be making another MSP-centric move within the next couple of weeks.

The VAR Guy will be watching to see if the Lenovo-MSP efforts involve any type of financing or HaaS efforts...

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