Lenovo opens up to channel for services business

NEW YORK — As things in the PC marketplace changes, the more Lenovo wants them to remain the same.

That is what Bill Owens, vice-president service and support for Lenovo, said about the six-month transition process from IBM PC Division to Lenovo for its 650 channel partners in Canada and its other worldwide partners.

“We’re new, but we don’t want solution providers to worry about what ifs. Is it a legacy IBM product or a new Lenovo one? We want it to be a seamless transition,” Owens said.

One new wrinkle will be on the services side. Long before the Lenovo acquisition, IBM promised channel partners that its IBM Global Services arm would be opened up to VARs. The promise never really materialized to the channel’s liking.

That will not be the case for Lenovo services, which will be called Think Plus Services. Owens said he intends to open up the services arm more over time.

Currently, Lenovo’s services team handles large corporate enterprise accounts, but Owens said the company is seriously interested in going after the small- to mid-size market through the channel.

“We have to push the channel to sell our products and services. We can’t reach the heart of the SMB market without them,” he said.

Owens added that Lenovo would be ready with a dedicated service offering for the first quarter of 2006.

“We are working out all the details now, but we will be ready to go next year,” Owens said.

Heather Ross, president of Lenovo Canada, said Lenovo wants to increase the value proposition of its business partners and is also looking to expand service offerings with them.

“We are looking to new ways to expand that strategy,” she said.

Frank Abate, director for On The Go Technologies of Toronto, said Lenovo has to open up services to resellers, since IBM Global Services is geared mainly at the big ticket items.
”I never saw IBM Global Services be real friendly to the channel, and I know most resellers were in the same situation – (Lenovo) just feels they own the account regardless of the customers, but to some degree that is common with vendors anyways,” Abate said.
Owens did not want to release any specifics about the expanded services play, but did say it would revolve around warranty upgrades, installation services, data migration and help desks.

Owens also was unable to pinpoint services margins except to say that they would be “clearly” higher than on hardware.

“There has been a lot of consolidation in the reseller channel. Those who have survived really drive the value proposition off of services and not hardware,” Owens said.

Abate said that he can’t see how this won’t work for Lenovo. “I’ve spoken to numerous people there, that if they continue to engage with the channel with most of their projects and programs the channel will be more than happy to support them,” Abate added.

Owens said that there would be enough room in the Lenovo services offering for tier 1 and 2 resellers. “We have to make sure we are aligned with Ingram Micro, Tech Data because IBM was more focused on the large enterprises and it made it difficult for SMB channel players,” Owens said.

Lenovo will be developing on-going programs for SMB channel players, he said.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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