Lenovo wants an IT services business that is “100 percent channel-driven” and on Wednesday said its new Partner Services Program will be available to reseller partners “with no strings attached.”
Separately, the computer maker inked a new distribution agreement with wireless device distributor Brightpoint, also on Wednesday.
“We want to declare that we don’t want to compete with our channel in services like a competitor with headquarters in California and another with headquarters in Texas," said Lenovo SMB director Jay McBain.
"We’re not in the business of buying a big services company and joining that fray,” he added, expressly referencing Hewlett-Packard’s acquisition of EDS in 2008 and Dell’s acquisition of Perot Systems last year.
Lenovo, headquartered in Morrisville, N.C., “knows about the rules of engagement and knows about the channel conflict that can arise” when a hardware company makes a major services offering, McBain said.
Consequently, Lenovo’s new Partner Services Program will feature a menu of Lenovo-supplied services called Lenovo Priority Support that channel partners can pick and choose from, or not use at all, with no consequence to their partner status.
“There are no tiers, no bolted-on conditions, no terms to meet. You can just use it,” McBain said. Lenovo Priority Support services that partners can use if they choose to include warranty maintenance, client imaging and other high-fuss, low ROI services that many Lenovo partners have told the vendor they want to outsource, he said.
Under the Partner Services Program rules, partners will earn discount points for selling Lenovo Priority Support services. They’ll also earn between 7 and 12 percent of the invoiced amount for services like Online Data Backup and Asset Recovery if they participate in the new scheme’s Influencer Program.
The computer maker has launched a new online partner support resource specifically for services questions. The Lenovo Services Sales Support Center currently features an online chat at www.lenovo.com/ssc, with e-mail and a telephone hotline planned for the future.
“We’re a hardware company. We’re not looking to compete with our channel or overtake anybody in services,” McBain said. “We don’t speak with the customer or engage with the customer unless it’s with the partner’s full support.”
McBain said of the Brightpoint distribution agreement that it will help Lenovo to "cross-pollinate" its computer reseller channel, which largely deals with distributors like Ingram Micro and Tech Data, with the wireless device reseller channel that does business with carriers and distributors like Brightpoint.
"I think this is one of the first moves in the channel that shows that the old silo is breaking down," he said. "We’re just seeing dozens of new wireless devices announced at a rapid pace. There’s going to be a real blur between what a computer is and a smartphone is, so it makes sense for both channels to have better access to all of the products out there."