Lenovo’s Initiatives with AI, the Channel, and Beyond

The last couple of years have been memorable for Lenovo and its Channel partners in North America. There have been several major accomplishments during this time. Lenovo rolled out the Data Center Group Partner Certification. Additionally, 10-year Lenovo veteran and former Vice President of the North American channel of Lenovo, Sammy Kinlaw, was named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Channel Chiefs of 2017 by CRN.

Unfortunately, Kinlaw left Lenovo earlier this month to join Lexmark. Kinlaw has declined to speak about his decision to leave Lenovo. However, Interim President Christian Teismann talked to CRN about Kinlaw’s upcoming departure and the latest channel changes. Lenovo’s sales veteran Stefan Bockhop was also interviewed by CRN about the company’s market competition, partner initiatives in 2018 and the company’s work to combat global security problems. Here are some major points from their interviews.

Lenovo has long asserted that its North American channel business involves one simple goal — to drive its partners’ success. When asked by CRN what message Lenovo wanted to give its partners about the departure of Kinlaw, Teismann stated that — even though Kinlaw has left Lenovo — the company continues to work hard to benefit its partners.  He also indicated that Lenovo is fully committed to growing with the channel. Teismann said that Kinlaw’s departure from the company “doesn’t change our commitment to the channel.” According to Teismann, 90 percent of the Lenovo’s business is conducted through the channel. The channel is the core of Lenovo’s business and that will not change, according to Teismann. Lenovo reps showed their commitment to channel partners by meeting extensively with partners at this year’s CES.

Feedback from Channel Partners

Some partners were worried about pricing changes that could result from the fall. However, Teismann sad that the contract pricing has been restored case-by-case. Teismann said that the feedback received from channel partners is that the issues have not been as negative as has been portrayed in the media.

The Interim Chief

Teismann also talked about the appointment of Rob Cato to interim chief. Cato has been the executive director at Lenovo since 2016. Cato has served in various roles within the company and has extensive experience within the channel. Teismann said that he doesn’t think that partners will notice much change in terms of Lenovo’s strategy or quality of coverage.

Investments in 2018 and Beyond

Teismann also talked about specific investments that the company is making in the channel in 2018 and beyond. He said that Lenovo is focused on sustainable growth rather than just units. The company wants to build a business that creates value for both Lenovo, its partners and customers, according to Teismann. Here is how it will achieve that goal.

  • Investment in SMB – Lenovo is committed to continuing to make specific investments as to have an even stronger presence in the SMB market and expand the SMB portfolio.
  • A focus on the commercial side of the business- Heisman points to new technology like the smart office and ThinkPad lineup as proof of the company’s commitment to this important aspect of business.
  • Advances in consumer technology – On the consumer side of the business, the company’s partnerships with Microsoft and Google will continue to help Lenovo — and its partners — win in the marketplace for years to come.
  • Artificial intelligence – Bockhop said that artificial intelligence will be a game-changer for the company this year.
  • Improvements in security – Lenovo is currently working very closely with Intel to deal with global security threats like Spectre and Meltdown, according to Bockhop.
  • Focus on a wider portfolio – Lenovo is more than just a computing company. They do software, networking and storage. Bockhop says that the company plans on helping its partners capture additional revenue by becoming a full data center vendor.

Both Teismann and Bockhop strongly assert that Lenovo will be competitive with HP and Dell through this year and beyond. The company’s investment in new technologies like artificial intelligence will make Lenovo a strong contender against its competition. Lenovo’s commitment to innovation will not only benefit the company but will help its partners win, as well.

IT Xchange is a Lenovo Business Partner, providing recertified, or new-discontinued Lenovo hardware to VARs and system integrators around the world.