Lenovo's PC Surge: 5 Takeaways From North America PC Head Zielinski


Shortly after Matthew Zielinski took over as the president for Lenovo's North America PC and Smart Devices business, he announced to partners that the plan was to capture market share in coming quarters on a gradual but steady basis.

Specifically, Zielinski said in May, the goal would be to add between a quarter and a half percentage point of market share, per quarter on a sequential basis, for the foreseeable future.

[Related: Lenovo Continues Gains In U.S. PC Market, Microsoft In Top 5]

What happened instead has been surprising even to Zielinski. The company's share of U.S. PC unit sales rose to 14.9 percent in the second quarter of the year, up from 13.8 percent in the first quarter, according to research firm Gartner. Then, in the third quarter, Lenovo's share grew again to 15.4 percent—reaching an all-time high for the company, according to Zielinski.

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"I am definitely pleasantly surprised by how fast we've grown so quickly," he said in an interview with CRN.

The results are being driven in part by the company's efforts to catalyze its partner community in North America, Zielinski said. What follows are five key takeaways from our conversation with Zielinski about the company's progress in the U.S. PC market.

Channel Changes

The results for Lenovo have followed new channel program measures rolled out by the company this year following a changeover in leadership. Both Zielinski and Lenovo's North American channel chief for PC and Smart Devices, Rob Cato, assumed their roles earlier this year following executive departures. The channel changes this year have included increases in rebates and MDF, as well as improved speed of delivering pricing information to partners. The automated price quote tool has "cut down significantly" the time it takes to get pricing to partners, Zielinski said, though there is still "room for improvement" on the speed.

Lenovo also has received feedback from partners that the company's deal registration program was "broken," and so "there've been a lot of efforts to go repair that," he said.

Across The Board Growth

The strong third quarter "really is a testament to every segment improving," Zielinski said. "It isn't all K-12, or all consumer, or all commercial. It really is a lot of progress in all parts of the business." The corporate business has seen double digit growth, he noted.

SMB Surge

All of Lenovo's sales to the small and medium-sized business market go through channel partners, and SMB has been the fastest growing area for Lenovo PC sales, Zielinski said. Lenovo North America saw "significant" double-digit growth in sales to SMB during the third quarter, he said. "The one place you could say that there was hyper growth is certainly in SMB," Zielinski said. "Our growth in SMB speaks to the level of engagement in the channel, the level of affinity for the new channel program, and just us fixing some of the foundational items in the channel that made us a little bit more difficult to do business with versus our competition."

Stealing Customers From Competitors

New customer wins have also been exceeding expectations for Lenovo North America, and the company is "absolutely" displacing competing PC makers in some of the recent customers deals, Zielinski said. "These are new [customers] that have an install base that is not Lenovo," he said.

Looking Ahead

As the fourth quarter gets underway, Zielinski said that he is "conscious of seasonality differences" that could affect the results. "Do I expect us to grow another point sequentially? Maybe not," he said. "Certainly when you start off a year super hot like that, and you don't want to go backwards, that means your job just got a lot harder for the back half of the year."

One area of increasing focus for Lenovo North America going forward may be in services—such as PC servicing and warranties--where the company has not fully been capturing the available opportunities, Zielinski said. The company is considering greater incentives for the channel "to get our services business off the ground and running in a way that is fruitful for our partners," he said.