EXCLUSIVE: Lenovo channel chief reveals data centre ambitions, plans

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EXCLUSIVE: Lenovo channel chief reveals data centre ambitions, plans

Lenovo’s data centre group wants to be considered a top-three data vendor across compute, storage and networking, the company’s executive director of global channels Nicole Roskill told CRN Australia in an exclusive interview.

Roskill joined Lenovo from Avnet in February 2019 and told CRN she spent her first 90 days getting to know the business. She’s now formulated plans that have goals stretching into the year 2022.

CRN pointed out that Lenovo rivals like Dell EMC, Cisco and HPE have broader product portfolios, especially in storage and networking.

But Roskill thinks that can be overcome if she gets things right.

One important thing on her to-do list is therefore ensuring the voice of the channel team is heard when Lenovo designs products.

“At the time we are bringing an offering to market, we've really got to think about who is the customer we're trying to reach and we have to work our way back in,” Roskill said. “How is that customer buying? Do we have the channel partners today that can sell that offering?”

And if the channel isn’t ready, Roskill expects product plans will change. As will channel development plans.

In both cases, she feels the fact that Lenovo doesn’t have legacy businesses to defend will mean it can be bolder than rivals.

For now, she’s focused on building consistent infrastructure for the channel.

“We were in very different levels of maturity in different areas of the world,” she told CRN. “I'll give you an example: we didn’t have quoting and pricing tools for partners everywhere in the world. And there were places in the world where we had it, but it wasn't really being used.”

Roskill plans to make sure that kind of infrastructure is available and used everywhere.

She also wants to ensure partners remain as active as possible.

“We've got to figure out ways to activate partners that have done work with us in the past, but aren't really engaged. So I look at the last really the last four quarters, and I say, what is a partner done in the last four orders, and if they've… not bought a minimum on club level that, we don't consider them active.”

“So what do we do to activate them. Part of it is the care we're giving them. Part of it is leveraging the distribution investments we make.”

“The other piece is we have is segment strategies, we have really declared there are customer segments and market where we are building a portfolio to support workloads and customer challenges. And we've got to make sure that we're bringing partners into that as well.”

“If one partner has a skill set around IoT or a skill set around high performance computing at the departmental level, we've got to make sure that we are reaching that partner and that we are showing them that they are an important partner of ours and a route to market. And that we want to work collaboratively with them in order to help them be successful.”

And also succeed in an as-a-service world.

“We have a consumption-based offering called TruScale and the strength of that offering is when a managed service provider layers on their own IP and takes that to market.”

Lenovo will therefore help partners to develop and sell that knowledge.

Roskill said that kind of effort is what she hopes will see Lenovo reach its top-three goal.

But she also acknowledged it’s “a lofty goal.”

And when CRN suggested “But you’ve got to have big goals,” she agreed.

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