Lenovo’s new data center global channel chief, Jose Luis Fernandez, has bold plans in store to drive more sales opportunities and channel synergies through new joint architectures, systems integrator and service provider programs, and bringing best-of-breed practices from each geography to its global partner community.
“We are building joint architectures in a couple of fields. There’s a remote virtualization tool that’s being developed in partnership with both business units—our Data Center Group and Intelligent Devices Group,” said Fernandez in an interview with CRN. “It’s an opportunity for some of our channel partners to join and participate through professional services as well as their own professional services.”
Fernandez held top sales and channel executive positions at Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Arista Networks before becoming president of Lenovo’s Data Center Group for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018. He recently took over the global channel chief role after the departure of Nicole Roskill.
On the data center side, Lenovo channel partners account for 85 percent of the company’s total revenue, with no plans of that changing, according to Fernandez. “Indirect is top of mind for me, and I’m excited to be working with new partners on a worldwide basis,” he said.
In the interview, Fernandez details five new initiatives, programs and tools he is bringing to the Lenovo data center table.
Simplifying TruScale-as-a-service for partners
In a business like TruScale or any other as-a-service business, there are two sales: one technical sale that we’re all very used to, then once the technical sale is closed you start with the financial conversation. What we’re going to do is simplify that second financial sale phase a little bit. We’re simplifying the TruScale as-a-service contracts for partners, simplifying the financial models by making it a lot easier to understand and to make projections. For example, you’re selling as a service and the CFO wants to look at all the different scenarios: ‘What if my usage is zero? What if my usage is 100 percent or 75 percent?’ We’re just going to make all those scenarios easier to navigate.
TruScale has been very successful in Latin America; it’s the region with the most customers at the moment. It will continue to grow. I think it’s really a good fit for service providers and systems integrators. We need to make it more palatable to the channel partner and also make it more attractive for the partners. All the projects we have closed in Latin America had very active participation from at least one channel partner in every case. So we’re going to use those experiences to integrate the channel partner in some of the TruScale projects in other geographies.
New programs for systems integrators and service providers
We’re going to build specific programs for systems integrators and service providers. We are actively working on that to make sure that we integrate them in a more specific way that’s more tailored to their needs. That’s going to come in the second half of our fiscal year. Global systems integrators and service provider companies have very specific needs. The way they’re consuming technology these days is very different compared to two years ago. It’s mostly Opex models and all the investments have to be very aligned from the cash-flow point of view. That’s going to be key to our new programs, working closely with systems integrators and service providers.
Our indirect business is currently around 85 percent of our total revenue. It will continue to be in the same position. So indirect is top of mind for me, and I’m excited to be working with new partners on a worldwide basis. That’s why our channel partners are so important because they bring in the vast majority of our revenue.
New data centre and devices group architectures
There are definitely synergies between [Lenovo’s Data Center Group and Intelligent Devices Group]. We are building joint architectures in a couple of fields. There’s a remote virtualization tool that’s being developed in partnership with both business units—our DCG and IDG. It’s an opportunity for some of our channel partners to join and participate through professional services as well as their own professional services. It combines elements from both business units.
Another great example is VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure]. VDI is one of the segments that’s exploding right now. Companies under quarantine need to make sure they’re well prepared to have remote workforces, and VDI is a perfect example. We have really good solutions in the data center space, but that needs the devices that are on the other end. So this is a perfect opportunity for channel partners to combine elements of both business units.
Implementing best-of-breed geography practices
There are really good initiatives going on right now in all the geographies. We need to bring best practices based on the success some of the geographies have had in developing the channel. We need to harmonize.
For example, EMEA is very well developed in the indirect business. They’ve been fine-tuning that business for many years so there’s a lot of experience in best practices that can be shared in other geographies. In the case of my geography, Latin America, I think we do a good job in enterprise solution selling and developing strategies like co-delivery with channel partners. We’re a small team and we cannot cover all the geographies in all practices, so we leverage the ability and the coverage of our channel partners to improve that. That’s a really cool model. Our partners love it because it allows them to deliver in the spaces they like the most because it’s the most profitable, which is services, particularly professional services. We’re going to collaborate with the different geographies and leverage what’s been working.
Won’t compete with channel partners
We won’t go directly to a customer that has been brought to us by a channel partner. We’ve been very consistent on that around the world, and it’s something partners really appreciate. We also won’t compete with our channel partners on professional services in the field or in the accounts they’ve been developing. That’s extremely important to our channel partners.
We’re also supporting partners with a really strong supply chain. The fact that we own our factories has allowed us to get really well prepared for difficult times like the one we’re going through right now. So being able to deliver on time is key to our channel partners. We have the ability to anticipate some of the shortages that we foresee in the market. So we can provision ahead of time to make sure that we deliver in better time than the competition. That’s very important. Lastly, the ease of doing business with Lenovo, that’s why we launched the Lenovo Partner Hub a few days ago. We have our PC and Smart Devices Group and Data Center Group combined and accessible in the same portal. It’s going to be a lot easier to do business with Lenovo.