‘Doing The Proper Factor’: How Lenovo Stepped Up For Companions In 2020

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Mark Haranas, Kyle Alspach

With a brand new Companion Hub, wealthy incentives and modern merchandise, Lenovo’s subsequent chapter is able to unfold.

As COVID-19 started to unfold throughout North America earlier this 12 months, resolution supplier powerhouse Microserve instantly discovered itself offering a vital service because the end-user computing supplier for all of British Columbia’s hospitals.

And as a Lenovo Platinum associate, the Burnaby, B.C.-based resolution supplier discovered its shut alliance with the PC maker to be fairly important, too.

One key aspect to retaining hospitals operating was equipping many employees members with laptops to do business from home. And that’s the place Microserve and Lenovo got here in, stated Sylvain Jacob, vp of gross sales for the answer supplier.

“Info is energy in these conditions. We have been capable of finding out from the Lenovo group what was in-flight coming into the nation to ensure that us to handle the demand,” Jacob stated. “So when product landed right here within the nation, both at Lenovo or at distribution, we already knew what was coming in to help the shopper calls for.”

Microserve in the end equipped 3,000 Lenovo laptops for pressing wants at health-care prospects throughout March and April, whereas additionally supporting the wants of different prospects together with municipalities and personal sector shoppers, Jacob stated.

“It was actually that collaboration between our two groups that made this transition very profitable,” he stated. “It was a fairly intense second. However we had an incredible quantity of buyer satisfaction all through all of that interval.”

Lenovo has been assembly buyer wants through the COVID-19 disaster by retaining the concentrate on working hand in hand with companions, stated Matthew Zielinski, president of Lenovo North America’s Clever Units Group.

“There are such a lot of firms on the market that say that they’re channel-centric or dedicated to the channel. However actually, particularly [against] a backdrop like this, discuss is affordable,” Zielinski stated. “We have been the primary on the market to deliver a Companion Stimulus Package deal to all of our companions when COVID hit. … And now we have by no means as soon as incentivized our personal sellers to take enterprise direct.”

For Lenovo, engagement with companions has “ramped up within the final six months as we’ve gone into the lockdown and the results of COVID-19,” stated Kevin Hooper, president and common supervisor for Lenovo’s North America Knowledge Heart Group. “As [partners have] skilled challenges of their vendor provide chain, our absolutely built-in provide chain has truly helped us. We’ve gotten calls from channel companions that had offers on the desk that stated, ‘Your competitors can’t provide this. May you?’ And we’ve taken these offers.”

Lenovo and its companions, Zielinski stated, stay “very hungry” for development within the enterprise surroundings formed by the pandemic.

To that finish, the corporate just lately launched its new unified Lenovo Companion Hub together with a bevy of channel incentives throughout each enterprise teams. On the product entrance, the brand new ThinkPad X1 Fold is stirring up pleasure.

“Whether or not you’re a brand new Approved associate otherwise you’re a longstanding Platinum associate, we’re not going to take that relationship without any consideration,” he stated. “We’re with you each step of the way in which to go after new enterprise and likewise enterprise that’s much less in regards to the monetary elements, and extra about doing the suitable factor for people who want know-how probably the most.”

Doing the suitable factor for patrons and companions has been on the coronary heart of Lenovo’s mission from the very begin of 2020.

Beginning in January, earlier than the coronavirus had absolutely stretched its lethal grasp the world over, Lenovo created the customer-centric motto, “Act as if life is dependent upon us. As a result of it does.”

“We had dozens of buyer conditions, principally hospitals and well being ministries, who contacted us in disaster as a result of they weren’t arrange for distant employees or the quantity of sufferers they have been getting by means of the system,” stated Wilfredo Sotolongo, chief buyer officer for Lenovo’s Knowledge Heart Group. “We began saying inside Lenovo, ‘Act as if life is dependent upon us. As a result of it does.’ It modifications your demeanor.”

When a big regional health-care group in Canada wanted to accommodate an influx of sufferers and quickly create a distant workforce, it turned to Quebec-based Lenovo Platinum associate ITI.

“As COVID occurred, folks began urgently asking, ‘We want companies. We want laptops. We want tools. We want it now,’” stated Patrick Richer, vp of gross sales, enterprise and schooling at

ITI, previously often called ProContact. ITI was capable of enhance the health-care group’s capabilities by implementing Lenovo ThinkAgile HX hyperconverged infrastructure whereas additionally offering greater than 1,500 Lenovo gadgets, together with ThinkPad E590 laptops in addition to Lenovo Tiny and Yoga desktops, successful the greater than $1.5 million deal.

“Working with Lenovo on the machine entrance, but in addition the info middle [front], we have been capable of design an answer that was scalable, resilient, higher performing, and deploy it quickly whereas additionally repeatedly partaking with the Lenovo group. Very quickly, our buyer was up and operating,” stated Richer, including that ITI’s Lenovo gross sales are rising at a double-digit clip in 2020. “That was an enormous success for us. The client appreciated it. The collaboration with Lenovo was key to all of it.”

Lenovo’s means to ship merchandise has additionally helped a few of the world’s most important financial organizations preserve the financial system transferring.

When COVID-19 arrived in full pressure within the U.S. earlier this 12 months, resolution supplier Groupware Know-how grew to become the lifeline for one of many largest financial establishments within the nation. Groupware led the cost in designing, putting in and offering ongoing help to revamp the shopper’s IT infrastructure on a basis of hundreds of recent Lenovo ThinkSystem SR630 and SD530 rack servers.

“With the beginning of 2020 and COVID-19 hitting, they wanted to be open for enterprise to help tens of millions of their prospects across the globe to make sure that they may entry their cash and have been capable of course of any form of authorities benefit they have been receiving,” stated Daybreak McCale, vp of gross sales at Campbell, Calif.-based Groupware, a Lenovo Platinum associate.

Lenovo was capable of allocate the assets and elements Groupware wanted, even adjusting its provide chain methodologies and routes to verify the supply was on time for the shopper. Groupware, for its half, expedited the constructing of the shopper’s racks to verify they have been production-ready on the time of supply, enabling the big financial establishment to proceed to offer service to tens of millions of individuals with out skipping a beat.

When it got here to working with Groupware, Lenovo “pivoted their provide chain and was capable of accommodate a few of our financial companies prospects and expedite their shipments to make the manufacturing schedule,” stated McCale, including that Groupware’s Lenovo gross sales are up 84 p.c this 12 months in contrast with 2019.

She’s not alone. Quite a few channel companions informed CRN that Lenovo, greater than some other IT vendor, has been essential to their gross sales development through the COVID-19 disaster.

From large digital desktop infrastructure (VDI) use instances to arming the brand new distant workforce with gadgets the world over, Lenovo has been doing what it takes to fulfill the wants of its world prospects, no matter their dimension.

For a lot of, these wants have accelerated as COVID-19 sped up digital transformation efforts or initiatives, resembling VDI.

“Many purchasers had two-year highway maps to get to a full VDI implementation, however they accelerated that,” stated Hooper. “Then they discovered themselves beginning to ask the query, ‘OK, who can provide this? As a result of now now we have this chance with a little bit little bit of downtime to improve all of our inner infrastructure to help folks working from house’—however you must get the tools to them and you’ve got to have the ability to help it. That’s the place it picked up. So VDI has been an ideal use case for us.”

Gross sales Booming Throughout COVID-19 Pandemic

After a rocky fourth fiscal quarter, which was impacted by the closing of Lenovo’s Wuhan, China, manufacturing facility as a result of pandemic, Lenovo is now flourishing because it continues to provide companies with the essential IT infrastructure and work-from-home merchandise they want.

Lenovo reported first fiscal quarter whole income of $13.3 billion, up practically 7 p.c 12 months over 12 months regardless of the worldwide financial disruptions brought on by COVID-19. Internet revenue jumped 31 p.c 12 months over 12 months to $213 million.

Whereas many competing distributors are reporting knowledge middle infrastructure gross sales declines in 2020, Lenovo’s Knowledge Heart Group is on the rise. This bodes effectively for channel companions as oblique gross sales account for 85 p.c of Lenovo’s whole Knowledge Heart Group income, executives stated. In its first quarter, income from Lenovo’s Knowledge Heart Group skyrocketed virtually 20 p.c 12 months over 12 months to $1.6 billion resulting from gross sales spikes in each VDI and high-performance computing.

Hooper stated that whole income for the Knowledge Heart Group in North America was up 33 p.c 12 months over 12 months throughout Lenovo’s first fiscal quarter, which ended June 2020, principally resulting from VDI infrastructure upgrades.

In Lenovo’s Clever Units Group, in the meantime, PC shipments within the U.S. are up 8.7 p.c for the first three quarters of 2020, 12 months over 12 months, analysis firm Gartner reported in October. That features a 28.8 p.c spike in U.S. shipments for Lenovo through the first quarter, when PC demand surged virtually in a single day due to the shift to distant work.

Like Lenovo’s Knowledge Heart Group, the Clever Units Group has seen no slowdown in its channel cost through the COVID-19 disaster. It has continued to help and put money into companions even amid an unprecedented market scenario that has ceaselessly concerned unheard-of demand for PCs and displays, Lenovo executives and companions informed CRN.

Quite a few companions pointed to Lenovo’s Companion Stimulus Package deal—which was unveiled in late March for Clever Units Group companions, simply weeks into the disaster in North America—as a pivotal transfer in serving to shore up their companies and permitting them to remain targeted on prospects.

A core element of the Companion Stimulus Package deal was the inclusion of a flat rebate construction, enabling extra predictable earnings for companions in latest quarters. To perform this, Lenovo eradicated all target-based applications, in order that Clever Units Group companions weren’t required to hit a sure threshold to earn back-end rebates.

As well as, Lenovo offered these funds to companions each 30 days—as a substitute of the standard 90 days—whereas additionally providing a 30-day extension on financing for certified companions by means of the Lenovo Companion Financing Program.

“Lenovo has stepped as much as the plate,” stated Susie Smith, common supervisor of Twotrees Applied sciences, a subsidiary of Woodard Know-how and Investments, a Lenovo Platinum associate based mostly in Wichita, Kan. “They have been the first to come back out with some sort of stimulus bundle for resellers. They’ve ensured that we’re rewarded for selling Lenovo and placing Lenovo within the entrance of our product offerings they usually’ve performed an ideal job of being clear, with weekly calls on the availability points. They’ve simply been a really supportive associate.”

Lenovo’s Companion Stimulus Package deal was the suitable transfer for companions at simply the suitable time, stated Shelliy Cymbalski, vp of promoting and associate applications at iT1 Supply, a Lenovo Gold associate based mostly in Tempe, Ariz.

With the flat rebate of the Companion Stimulus Package deal, “we didn’t must spend any time attempting to adapt or perceive whether or not we have been going to hit our targets,” Cymbalski stated. “They only took that downside away. It was only a good thing that Lenovo did for his or her companions.”

Lenovo has additionally dedicated to persevering with one aspect of the Companion Stimulus Package deal, the prolonged financing, for companions by means of the tip of 2020, executives stated.

The COVID-19 disaster has been a tailwind in some ways for Lenovo and its Clever Units Group companions, a few of whom have seen booming enterprise in 2020 because the PC has turn out to be a essential product within the enterprise world as soon as once more. Specifically, Lenovo’s portfolio of ThinkPad and ThinkBook enterprise notebooks, small-form-factor desktops and Chromebook schooling laptops have seen unprecedented demand, in response to the corporate.

Add to this Lenovo’s channel focus and product innovation, and the corporate has succeeded at capturing a big selection of recent prospects within the U.S. and Canada this 12 months, executives stated. Trying forward, Lenovo plans to keep up its emphasis on bringing in new prospects through companions as the corporate’s PC enterprise seeks to vault from No. 3 to the No. 2 spot in North America by 2022, Zielinski stated. To that finish, Lenovo just lately launched new associate incentives to assist “guarantee that we keep on the expansion tear that we’ve been lucky sufficient to attain these final couple years,” he stated.

Merely put, “we wish this technology of Lenovo to be the very best Lenovo our companions and prospects have ever identified,” Zielinski stated.

Versatile Provide Chain

Lenovo’s latest development through the coronavirus pandemic isn’t by sheer luck. In truth, the Knowledge Heart Group pivoted in early 2020 to bolster its manufacturing technique to make it unmatched within the business, in response to Lenovo’s Sotolongo.

As lots of its opponents confronted IT provide shortages this 12 months as a result of quite a few manufacturing amenities have been compelled to close down throughout COVID-19-related lockdowns, Lenovo’s Knowledge Heart Group product provide chain has remained principally uninterrupted.

“You didn’t hear about Lenovo getting hit unhealthy in any respect due to provide chain restrictions due to the pandemic,” stated Sotolongo. “The rationale for that’s as a result of we personal our personal provide chain. Most individuals don’t understand that one of many differentiating components of Lenovo on this business is we personal our provide chain finish to finish. We design our personal boards, our personal merchandise, we make and combine them, we field them, we check them and we ship them. Most of our competitors shouldn’t be built-in finish to finish like us. They find yourself utilizing outsourcing for manufacturing companies, outsourcing of help companies—we don’t do this.”

Lenovo owns many manufacturing amenities throughout the globe—from China and India to Mexico and North Carolina. Due to this, Lenovo was one of many first to get a style of simply how impactful the coronavirus could be on the worldwide provide chain when it was compelled to briefly shut its Wuhan facility.

“We realized, ‘Wow, that is going to be an enormous mess. We higher begin planning for the worst.’ So we started to actually architect our provide chain so we will construct anyplace and ship anyplace,” stated Sotolongo. “That gave us an unimaginable aggressive benefit as a result of it’s no secret that my two prime opponents had very severe provide chain constraints by means of the pandemic. That opened doorways for us, not solely with prospects, but in addition with companions. Companions that had difficult conditions with prospects that wanted one thing— like a hospital or laboratories or a physician’s office—we have been capable of serve them rapidly. So we reconfigured our provide chain to do that, and it labored fantastically.”

Lenovo’s Knowledge Heart Group provide chain stronghold all through 2020 has been a significant benefit for channel companions. Resolution suppliers stated when different distributors couldn’t present the wanted IT merchandise their prospects have been rapidly clamoring for, Lenovo stepped as much as the plate and delivered.

“When the pressing requests began flowing in, ‘I would like one thing for subsequent week. We want desktops tomorrow. We want 200 gadgets for the medical items that we’re placing collectively for testing. How briskly can you’ve gotten it?’—Lenovo was at all times in inventory relying on the mannequin,” stated ITI’s Richer. “With different distributors, typically you’ll obtain ETAs for 2 weeks or three weeks, which is approach too lengthy. So with Lenovo, what we did was we began figuring out the sorts of tools on the info middle facet and machine facet that may be required in order that we might plan forward with their government group in attempting to forecast what could be required. In doing so, we have been capable of shorten the supply time fairly significantly.”

As a consequence of its flexible technique, Lenovo’s Knowledge Heart Group was capable of shift its provide chain by means of different delivery ports and mechanisms to have the ability to get merchandise into the palms of consumers with the intention to meet tight manufacturing schedules.

“They used air. They used ships. They went by means of different nations to route across the areas that have been closed off to COVID,” stated Groupware’s McCale. “It’s been an ideal success for Lenovo and Groupware.”

That stated, manufacturing and provide for the Clever Units Group has not gone as easily in all instances due partly to element shortages.

Availability of student-friendly Chromebooks has been particularly low throughout all producers, as demand has soared on account of widespread distant studying. A number of resolution suppliers informed CRN that they’ve seen shortages and order delays in latest months for Chromebooks from all distributors, together with Lenovo.

When requested about Chromebook provide, Rob Cato, vp of North America channels in Lenovo’s Clever Units Group, acknowledged that “the headwinds that we’re dealing with proper now are definitely difficult.”

“It’s actually necessary for us to try to do all the pieces we will to get merchandise to the colleges and the scholars that want them probably the most,” Cato stated. “We’re persevering with to work by means of one of the simplest ways to try this—by means of a mixture of working intently with our suppliers all over our world provide chain, after which in the end with our gross sales and logistics group, and ensuring that we get product to the purchasers as quick as we will.”

Lenovo, Cato stated, is “not satisfied till each pupil and trainer that wants a tool has one. We’ve received to have the ability to resolve that rapidly and effectively for these college districts on the market. That’s our No. 1 precedence. We’re not going to be satisfied till we get that performed.”

Eye On The Mission

Numerous prospects are nonetheless contacting Lenovo and its channel neighborhood, urgently on the lookout for infrastructure and gadgets to maintain enterprise afloat and staff secure.

“They name you up on Thursday, order on a Friday, they usually anticipate the supply on a Sunday—that form of stuff. And we pulled off fairly just a few of these as a result of they weren’t arrange for distant employees or the volumes of sufferers they have been getting by means of the system,” stated Sotolongo.

The brand new mission—“Act As If Life Relies upon On Us. As a result of It Does”—has enabled Lenovo and its channel companions to make inroads with net-new prospects at a fast tempo. For instance, through the top of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York in early April, a New York-based hospital, for the first time ever, reached out to Lenovo in dire want.

“They stated, ‘I don’t have sufficient tablets for my caregivers to deal with the incoming load of sufferers. And by the way in which, I don’t have the infrastructure to help the VDI resolution wanted for these tablets.’ This was one more firm that had not performed enterprise with us earlier than,” stated Sotolongo.

The New York hospital’s cry for IT assist got here on a Saturday morning. At that time, Lenovo had shut down a manufacturing unit in North Carolina due to the nationwide quarantine lockdown. Nonetheless, Lenovo made the choice to reopen the manufacturing unit with a restricted set of staff and went again in that Saturday. The staff have been capable of construct the tablets, bundle them up with Lenovo servers that had been shipped from one other North America Lenovo manufacturing facility, and ship the merchandise on Sunday to the hospital in New York.

“We didn’t even speak about pricing. It was like, ‘In the event you’re going to accommodate extra sufferers by doing this, let’s go.’ In the long run, we ended up donating a part of that tools. However from Saturday morning to Sunday—from a closed plant, to an open plant, to cargo and help and ultimately implementation—that’s a Lenovo story. We acted as if life is dependent upon us.”

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