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Lenovo Channel Director: We're Going To Bring PC Success To System X Server Line

Lenovo says it's going to bring the same success it has seen with its PC division to its recently acquired System X server line, and it says the channel is the way to do it.

Lenovo plans to bring the same success it has seen with its PC division to its recently acquired System X server line, and it says the channel is the way to do it.

Lenovo has been the No. 1 PC provider in the world for the past two years and is also No. 1 for the combined PC and tablet market. With the acquisition of IBM's server business last January, Lenovo became the No. 3 provider of servers.

"We want to leverage what we've been able to do in PC side of business and bring that into the server side of the business as well," Alan Andrade, Lenovo director of North American commercial channel strategy, said in a presentation Sunday at the 2015 XChange Solution Provider conference in Dallas, hosted by The Channel Company, which publishes CRN.

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That strategy is what Andrade called "protect and attack," where Lenovo works to gain and grow in its PC business but also looks to find tactical areas where the company can add more value to the enterprise.

"If we can leverage the efficiencies -- and we will -- in the PC business model and apply that to the server business model, there are lots of opportunity for us to have growth and lots of opportunity for partners to sell Lenovo servers," Andrade said.

Lenovo has invested significantly in developing all of its lines internally, Andrade said, with nine major research centers, $730 million spent in research and development and a $900 million investment in R&D facilities.

Andrade said Lenovo and its partners will be "winning together" when it comes to its server lines. He said Lenovo pursues a "channel first" strategy, running 85 percent of its commercial business through the channel. That's been a consistent strategy for Lenovo, he said, and it isn't going to change.

While the company continues to invest in its server lines, Andrade said Lenovo also still sees opportunities to grow its PC line.

"This market we see in the next couple of years will contract. We see ongoing opportunities to gain share in the PC space," Andrade said.

Andrade said Lenovo is working to integrate its go-to-market approach to the channel, especially when it comes to its server lines, in order to make it as simple as possible for partners to do business with the company. That means one compensation plan, one sales team, and one set of programs across PCs and servers, he said. Andrade said he expected that 85 percent of the company's channel programs would be unified by April.

"That's what we mean by one Lenovo, one channel," Andrade said.

The end goal is mutual growth and profitability for both Lenovo and its partners, Andrade said.

"For us it's about growth. It's winning in the marketplace, and we'll be aggressive in terms of doing that," Andrade said.

David Bliss, director of professional services at Redding, Calif.-based solution provider Apex Technology Management, said he thinks Lenovo is setting itself up for an interesting move in the server space.

"They could be the next Dell," Bliss said. "I think it’s a good strategy too because they entered the market with the desktop then they're just turning into another Dell, another HP."

PUBLISHED MARCH 1, 2015

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