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Why partners are absolutely vital to Lenovo: General Manager – Lenovo DCG, ASEAN

Why partners are absolutely vital to Lenovo: General Manager – Lenovo DCG, ASEAN

Lenovo’s General Manager – Lenovo DCG, ASEAN, Han Chon, says any company that tries to be all things to all people is doomed to fail. To avoid this pitfall, Lenovo taps into the diversity of its partners.

In our first interview, Han Chon, discussed The strategy behind Lenovo’s next generation data centres. Now he explains why Lenovo puts its partners first rather than just selling direct to customers.

Why is Lenovo a channel-first company?

We recognised very early there is a limit to how much coverage we can provide by ourselves to customers.

Can we hire enough people to cover every single customer? No, it’s physically impossible and a bad business decision.

Can one company cover every competency adequately? Only with great difficulty. Not only would you need enough capacity, but you would also need specialists in every field in every location around the region.

We understand the limitations of what that means both physically and fiscally. Therefore, the most natural and logical conclusion is to ensure there is a good understanding of what the channel ecosystem can provide in terms of coverage.

No data centre is made of one singular technology. It is made of people, software, hardware and architecture. Lenovo, as a company, realises it cannot answer all the questions. We find a group of organisations – our partners and system integrators – provide more efficient and powerful answers to these questions.

What is Lenovo doing to enable its channel partners to deliver transformational technology better?

Obviously, there are the basics, such as rebates and other programs, which are mutually beneficial ways to deliver results.  However, we also need to be able to articulate to partners our vision for the next generation data centre. We can then – together – achieve the necessary level of cross-industry collaboration.

Lenovo has a lot of support to offer partners that are open to learning about new methods for delivering next generation data centres. Neither Lenovo nor its partners will succeed if, for the next 50 years, we keep trying to do things as we have in the past.

Secondly, Lenovo has a responsibility to work with its partners to define what the company  needs to do to support what the partners have to deliver. It would be easy for us to ship boxes to partners and leave them to do the selling. However, Lenovo believes it must work with its partners to design compelling solutions for clients.

The last piece is building out a matrix of partners that are best suited to deliver in their strongest fields of expertise. Just as we do not think it is a logical goal for Lenovo to try to be all things to all people, we do not expect single partners to cover everything by themselves. 

Different aspects of data centres need to be provided by multiple partners collaboratively. For example, a next generation data centre still needs a data centre services provider – the people who normally provide the site, the energy, the square footage, and the technology solution. But within that technology solution, there are going to be many segments requiring specialist input.

Instead of just saying the partnership is that of a vendor plus system integrator, we are trying to build out a bigger picture of what a data centre solution looks like, delivering a tightly managed solution for the end client while bringing the best expertise available into the solution design.

What kind of support does Lenovo give to its authorised partners? How is that different from what competitors offer the same partners?

Getting the financial benefits right is a cornerstone of what we do. Lenovo aims to help partners build out their full-service offering by assessing and providing advice on their support structures. For example, whether they have the right resources in place to deliver in the timeframes clients are asking for.

We are trying to help our partners understand that by creating a bigger ecosystem, we can introduce partners to new opportunities, extending their potential business beyond where it is today.

For customers, the world is also changing rapidly. They might have once thought, “For my data centre, I need a server specialist, a storage specialist, and a networking specialist.” But in the software-defined world, who exactly is a storage specialist? Or a server specialist?

Where everything is virtualised, is the storage specialist managing storage, or is it the server specialist? The language of who makes up and supports data centres is changing,  and partners have a big part to play in making that transition happen for customers.

We realise a single partner may not hold all the answers to the questions about a data centre, so Lenovo has a part to play in fostering an ecosystem of partners that can work together.

Additionally, data centres used to be the exclusive zone of IT experts but business units are increasingly taking on DevOps and people who have never been involved in tech infrastructure are taking on the development of data centre technologies. They are asking how they can use technology to monetise their assets – for example, mobile tech – to expose products and services to a larger base of users.

Lenovo wants to provide partners with as much advice and support as possible in expanding their offering into these new areas and understanding how to best propose a solution to business people whose priorities can be quite different to traditional IT.

What’s the customer’s advantage when choosing to go with Lenovo for their business over competitors?

Let me answer that in three ways.

1. We lead in satisfaction and reliability metrics. If you take a look at industry benchmarks, such as those recently published by Technology Business Research, you see Lenovo outscoring its peers in customer satisfaction[1] in almost every attribute, giving Lenovo the highest overall score. And, for the tenth straight year, IBM and Lenovo servers again achieved top rankings[2] in ITIC’s 2017-2018 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Reliability survey.

In market surveys of customer satisfaction and reliability, Lenovo consistently ranks extremely highly. In one study, it led 22 categories out of 22 categories in reliability metrics.[3]

Another publication highlighted that Lenovo has the lowest downtime ratio in x86 servers – 17 to 18 times more available and reliable than some of its major competitors.[4]

One of the reasons  we have been able to do that is Lenovo’s seven R&D centres around the world. Getting data centres right requires focus and energy – Lenovo builds on common industry components like our competitors but improves on them by putting its own design and architecture into the whole solution.

2. We’re not dependent on legacy revenue streams. Lenovo doesn’t have a huge, ageing product base to protect. Organisations that rely on cashflow from older platforms may avoid highlighting to clients how much better software defined storage can be, as it would cannibalise their existing business. Lenovo doesn’t have that constraint.  It isn’t tied to the old ways of solving problems; Lenovo can give an unbiased view of the advantages of new technologies.

3. We truly value our partners and the diversity they bring. There are natural limitations on how creative any one company can be. This is why Lenovo doesn’t try to solve every client’s solution from its own perspective. By creating an intermeshed ecosystem of partners, we bring a much greater diversity of ideas to the table. Lenovo is always open to those ideas and thinks that by supporting partners in having conversations with customers, the net result is that the customer benefits from the most innovative ideas.

In part 3, we look at how Lenovo is listening to its partners and acting on their feedback.

Read more:

The strategy behind Lenovo’s next generation data centres

[1] Lenovo leads the competition in x86-based server satisfaction
[2] ITIC 2017 – 2018 Global Server Hardware, Server OS Reliability Report
[3] ITIC 2017 – 2018 Global Server Hardware, Server OS Reliability Report
[4] ITIC 2017 – 2018 Global Server Hardware, Server OS Reliability Report




Tags LenovoDevopsauthorised partnersdata centre services provider

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