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Lenovo’s Matthew Zielinski: PC Group Staying On ‘Growth Tear’ By Going After New Customers With Partners

Lenovo president Matt Zielinski spoke with CRN about the PC demand outlook, the Chromebook supply situation and his message for partners.

Matthew Zielinski, president of Lenovo North America’s Intelligent Devices Group, says the company is well-positioned to continue its channel-driven “growth tear” in the North America PC market. Zielinski spoke with CRN about the PC demand outlook, the Chromebook supply situation and his message for partners.

How sustainable do you think this huge demand for PCs will be? Could the demand in 2021 be a lot lower?

We’re bullish. I think demand will stay very consistent. Demand in public sector will stay consistent because we’re just getting started in terms of equipping every student with a PC. I don’t see an end in sight with that effort. Consumer is extraordinarily strong. And even in the event that those two hotter areas settle, our SMB business has been very stable. I think over time, as we get past this, we’ll start to see the entire SMB market back at a growth trajectory. As we turn the corner through COVID, one of the softer areas this year has been certain verticals in our corporate enterprise business. Certain industries have just been decimated, and have been in no position to go out and refresh PCs. As we get through this, that’s going to have to pick back up again significantly. We’re No. 1 in the world [in PC market share], but we’re still No. 3 in North America—and that leaves us with significant headroom. Now, we’re No. 3 closing in rapidly on No. 2. But despite what happens in the world around us from a market standpoint, we’re still very hungry and very focused on share growth. And that bodes well for our partners because we’re just not letting our foot off the gas. Regardless of what happens macro-wise, there is new opportunity. There is new opportunity in services. Companies are now largely remote—and to the extent our partner community and Lenovo can off set what was traditionally done in a standard IT organization, that’s a huge opportunity for all of us. We see that business growing significantly.

What is your strategy with partners for getting to No. 2 in North America?

SMB is critical to us. Our growth in SMB for the last two years has been astounding. We clearly want to continue to work our way to a solid No. 2 in SMB. And that really is about empowering our channel and acquiring new partners to chase businesses that we haven’t historically had access to. SMB will be a springboard that helps us get [to No. 2]. No question. And also if you look at the corporate space, we’re so focused on working in that space with the partner community. There is no strategy to incentivize direct sales versus indirect. As corporate bounces back, those are [sales] that are not gone—they’re just on hold.

What can you say about the Chromebook supply situation and what the state of your response is to that?

It’s been a tough year. Anytime the global PC market shoots up by a double-digit percent—when the year before it was flat to up or down a single-digit percent— the supply chain just can’t handle that. The good news is that’s starting to get better. And our goal—and we’re well on track to this goal—is to have the largest Chrome[book]capacity in the industry. And based on owning most of our own supply chain, we’re in the best position to make that happen. … By the time we get toward the end of this year, and early into next year, things become much more robust. We’re working around the clock to make sure that we’re very well positioned to service all [the demand] that’s out there.

What is your message to partners?

Whether you’re a new Authorized partner or you’re a longstanding Platinum partner, we are not going to take that relationship for granted. We are with you every step of the way to go after new business—and also business that is less about the financial aspects and more about doing the right thing for those that need technology the most. The second thing is, we’re going to control what we can control. We can control our engagement, we can control our tenacity, we can control our programs, we can control our investments. And we’re going to be focused on all of those things to make sure that we stay on the growth tear that we’ve been fortunate enough to achieve these last couple years. I’ve always said that we want this generation of Lenovo to be the best Lenovo our partners and customers have ever known.

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