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5 Things To Know About The Lenovo 360 Partner Program

Kyle Alspach

With its ‘One Lenovo’ strategy now kicking into high gear, the company says it’s bringing together its PC and data center businesses into a unified partner program in early 2022.

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What’s Next In The Lenovo Channel?

This week, Lenovo unveiled its strategy for where it’s seeking to go next with partners, announcing its forthcoming Lenovo 360 global partner program. While the program is not launching until early 2022, Lenovo executives said they’re sharing the vision now in an effort to be transparent with partners. Notably, the program will bring together both the company’s PC and data center businesses, executives said during a virtual event for partners on Tuesday. “At Lenovo we value transparency, which is why we’re here today to share this information to our partners,” said Rob Cato (pictured right), vice president of North America channels in Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group, during the virtual event.

Cato appeared with Steve Biondi (pictured left), his channel chief counterpart within Lenovo’s Infrastructure Solutions Group, formerly known as the Data Center Group. Biondi, head of North America channels and alliances for the division, said during the event that the company’s “One Lenovo” approach will bring greater simplicity and tremendous value overall to partners. “We’re going to be the only OEM out there really providing this,” Biondi said.

The specifics of the Lenovo 360 program will be announced by the end of 2021, the company said. Lenovo is currently working on the partner enablement aspects of the new program, including around training, certifications and channel marketing playbooks, executives said. “Our partners are going to be delighted. Our customers are going to be delighted. Our competitors will have a whole new sense of fear about them,” Biondi said.

What follows are five key things to know about the Lenovo 360 partner program.

‘One Lenovo’

Driving the shift to a unified Lenovo 360 global partner program is the company’s “One Lenovo” strategy to bring together its PC and data center businesses, executives said during the virtual event Tuesday.

“Our mission is to build a ‘One Lenovo’ culture, drive growth across all businesses and reinforce our customer-centric commitment,” said Matthew Zielinski, president of the recently formed International Sales Organization at Lenovo, which covers all of the company’s sales outside of China. “We’re all-in to win with our partners again this year.”

Along with the plans for Lenovo 360, another example of the company creating synergies across its businesses is with the hire of a new North America president to oversee all product sales and business groups in the region. Vladimir Rozanovich, formerly a longtime executive at chipmaker AMD, is joining Lenovo this week in the North America president role.

Rozanovich is “a rare breed with expertise expanding from PCs to the data center to embedded solutions, and he has go-to-market expertise from retail to channel to end-user direct sales and beyond,” Zielinski said during the virtual event.

Rozanovich is taking on the role following Zielinski’s promotion to head Lenovo’s International Sales Organization, after previously serving as the president of the company’s Intelligent Devices Group in North America since 2018.

The moves have come in connection with Lenovo’s April 1 reorganization that split the company into three business units—the Intelligent Devices Group, which includes PCs and IoT; the rebranded Infrastructure Solutions Group, focused on servers, storage and other data center products; and a new Solutions and Services Group focused on verticals and services.

Simplified Interactions

A number of Lenovo executives said during the virtual event Tuesday that the Lenovo 360 and One Lenovo approach should make life easier for partners of the company. Partners can “rest assured that the end result will be simplification of the overall partner process,” Cato said.

Marshae Mansfield, vice president and chief customer officer for North America in Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group, echoed the sentiment--citing the “simplified process for partners” as one of the top benefits of Lenovo’s retooled approach. “With all business groups under one structure now, it will be more hassle-free than ever to work within the Lenovo channel,” Mansfield (pictured) said. “It’s going to give you the ability to leverage every business group, so you can offer customers a full end-to-end experience.”

Ideally, the new structure will enable partners with consistent rules and a unified experience across all of Lenovo’s divisions, said Larry Fulop, vice president of marketing and technology at Tempe, Ariz.-based MicroAge, a partner of Lenovo’s PC and data center businesses.

“That would just make it easier for my sales organization to deal with Lenovo,” Fulop said. “Any time a supplier can make it easier for a partner to deal with multiple siloes, and make it look like one, it benefits both parties. It will allow us to offer Lenovo as a solution and not have to deal with three different groups. So I’m excited as they roll this out.”

Selling Across The Portfolio

Among the goals of the Lenovo 360 program is to help more of the company’s PC-focused partners to expand into data center solutions, and vice versa, said Pascal Bourguet (pictured), global channel chief and COO for Lenovo’s International Sales Organization. A key aim of the Lenovo 360 program will be “bringing awareness of the power of the Lenovo portfolio to the channel community,” he said in an interview with CRN.

Globally, Lenovo has roughly 80,000 active Intelligent Devices Group partners and 20,000 active Infrastructure Solutions Group partners, the company said. Only 5,000 partners currently overlap between the two businesses, selling both IDG and ISG solutions, Lenovo said.

At Loganville, Ga.-based CommQuest, CEO Mark Sanchez said his company moved away from focusing on Lenovo’s data center offerings several years ago, and since then has been entirely focused on Lenovo PCs. But Lenovo’s shift to bring together the two businesses again should serve as an opportunity to get back into selling Lenovo data center products such as servers, Sanchez said. “I think it’s going to be a fit for us, for sure,” he said.

Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Lenovo PC partner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said he plans to consider offering Lenovo’s data center solutions as a result of the moves to unite the company’s PC and data center businesses. “The data center offerings seem very aggressive and fresh -- definitely going to be looking at them,” Goldstein said.

New Offerings And Capabilities

Mansfield said that Lenovo 360 and the One Lenovo model will also provide “expanded earning opportunities” for partners. “I can’t wait to see what all of you do with the new offerings and capabilities that the team is planning to make easily available to you,” she said.

Bourguet said that existing examples of joint solutions uniting the PC and data center sides include Lenovo’s As-a-Service solution for hosted desktops, announced in April. The remote work solution leverages Lenovo’s TruScale infrastructure service offering as well as Lenovo client devices, such as PCs and thin clients.

“Putting the portfolio together from the three business groups is unlocking market potential for the partners, giving them access to solutions,” he said in the interview with CRN. “By putting the PC business together with the infrastructure business together with the service business, very naturally you can build solutions.”

Still, Bourguet said during the virtual event Tuesday, the Lenovo 360 approach “will not disrupt your business, but instead will offer additional ways that you can [go to market].”

“I want to assure you we’re not changing your current offerings. What you are able to sell today, you will be able to sell tomorrow,” he said. “It’s just that tomorrow, you’ll be able to offer a whole lot more.”

A Timely Move

Ultimately, “this time is now right for us to come together as a single, unified entity,” said Kevin Hooper, president of the Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group for North America, during the virtual event Tuesday.

“One Lenovo is a massive undertaking, and the amount of time we’re spending putting it all together is going to be reflected in the boost it gives to our partners--and by extension their businesses,” Hooper (pictured) said. “With One Lenovo, and the structural cohesiveness it’s going to bring to our partners, you’re going to be able to satisfy your customers’ end-to-end needs more than you’ve ever been able to do in the past.”

Sanchez said that Lenovo’s move to bring together its PC and data center solutions is especially timely as customers embrace a hybrid model, with many employees splitting time between the home and office. Data center solutions such as servers will be increasingly needed as many customers adopt virtual desktop solutions for workers at home, while PCs will still be needed for employees for the days that they’re going into the office, he said. “I think it’s a good time for them to execute this,” Sanchez said.

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