A Channel Conversation With Lenovo Channel Chief Chris Frey


Another aspect of Lenovo that is just beginning to gain traction is its server business, a space the company launched only a year and a half ago.

"The growth is over 100 percent year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter sequentially, but it is on a small base, and we realize it's on a small base," Lenovo's Frey said. The company began to crack the market with towers. "And of course the tower business a lot of time is driven by opening price points, and that's a good place to start, but certainly that is not a place we want to stay forever."

Now, Lenovo is seeing a rise in its rack business, which Frey said was a positive from a partner standpoint because of the numerous opportunities towers present to insert more options and wrap around more services.

Lenovo has taken the stance that the best way to get partners to promote technology is to get the technology in their hands. The company in August began distributing demo kits, known as Combat Kits, with four enterprise mobile devices for partners to take directly to the customer back. In a four-month period, according to Frey, the kits went into 600 different customer locations.

Starting in December, Frey said, partners and their engineering teams will be able to demo the products as well, with engineers being able to give a product their official stamp of approval.

"We will allow partners and particularly their engineers to utilize a demo kit that has a server and a notebook in it where the engineer can actually go demo the product, be comfortable with the product, and make sure that the business partner sales reps can go and recommend that product because the engineering department actually has endorsed it."

In addition, the Combat Kits will get a refresh, highlighting new mobile devices, some of which will sport the new Haswell processors. Additionally, the products in the Combat Kits will make a shift toward "consumer devices," Frey said.

"As the IT organizations start getting control of their environment again, and I think that is going to happen next year, they may want to tell their employees 'Don't bring your own device, choose your own device and I can buy it through one route, which is my route through my business partner,'" Frey said. "I want the partner and the customer to have the ability to have a commercial device and a potential consumer device that can be bought through one route versus telling the customer 'Buy commercial from me and go to a retail store.'"

One of the devices in the refreshed Combat Kit will be the 10-inch Yoga tablet, a device Frey said will be a game changer.

"[The Yoga tablet will] change the game because the tablet market has been pretty much the same form factors and the same experiences. I won't be surprised if the 10-inch [Yoga] in the channel gets a lot of traction quickly as people see it and touch it."

Given the statements on financials, channel programs and new devices, all things considered, Frey said, the numbers speak for themselves. "Lenovo is a good brand to bet on right now."

PUBLISHED NOV. 20, 2013