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Lenovo's Matthew Zielinski: Intelligent Devices Group Is ‘Absolutely On Fire’

Matthew Zielinski, president of Lenovo’s North America Intelligent Devices Group, spoke with CRN about the ‘beast mode’ share gains the group has made and how there is no end in sight to continued growth.

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What sort of growth have your corporate and SMB businesses been seeing in North America?

As part of this ‘beast mode’ that we set out at the beginning of [last] year, we said that acquiring new customers was really important to us. And we set out an objective to say we want to acquire 50 new logos on a quarterly basis. And I think we’re going to smash well beyond 200 new logos for the year, with over $1 billion of new revenue from obtaining accounts that we didn’t have previously. That’s in corporate. ... I think our greatest accomplishment has been the turnaround in SMB, which is obviously huge in terms of how the channel drives that. Our business was up over 50 percent year to year. That just speaks volumes to the complete rebirth that we’ve had with our channel partners.

What were the key channel changes you made that have enabled this to happen?

We had an outstanding team in place, but it had a rough few years. I think they needed some real crisp direction. They needed some confidence and swagger back. If I had one job, it was really to reinstill swagger in the organization. Part of that also carries over into the channel. We had a huge rebuilding exercise that we had to undertake. If you recall, the October before I started, we did some things in the channel that were not favorable at all—that can leave scars and black-and-blue marks on business and trust for a long time. We had to get back to basics, retool our programs. All of us had to hit the road and re-engage, and really get back a lot of the trust that was challenged and lost during those times. ... I would argue that our [channel] relationships are stronger than ever, and I’ve got to really give all that credit to Rob [Cato, vice president and North America channel chief in Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group] and his entire team. We’ve seen incredible growth as a result. Our channel business is up 18 [percent] to 20 percent year on year. Those results don’t happen unless you’ve got some mojo back and some chemistry back with all of your partners.

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