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Lenovo embraces a strategy
that never ends

The secret to its dominant position across categories lies in a channel-centric strategy, Southern Africa GM Yugen Naidoo tells ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

There was a time when companies set their business strategy for five or ten years into the future, and stuck to it, through feast and famine. Thanks to the rapid page of technology advances today, that is a luxury no one can afford. Unless, of course, that strategy is specifically geared to leverage change and thrive in times of chaos.

That thought comes to mind when one follows the trajectory of Lenovo, the Chinese company that bought IBM’s hardware assets two decades ago and the Motorola hardware brand a decade later. During the 2020 pandemic, it was one of the few tech companies that was not caught short by the collapse of global logistics, thanks to a strategy of diversifying its manufacture geographically.

Historically known as a heavyweight in the PC market, Lenovo has dramatically expanded its scope over the years, evolving into a holistic technology company that integrates solutions from pocket-sized devices to comprehensive cloud computing. This strategic transformation reflects a deep understanding of the ever-evolving tech landscape and positions Lenovo not just as a participant but as a shaper of the future of technology.

It is ranked number one in the world in PC sales, with the International Data Corporation (IDC) reporting a massive 24% market share in the last quarter of 2023. For the full year, it shipped 59-million PCs. At the same time, it led the server market and was ranked third for tablet sales.

“We’ve evolved from a PC-centric company to a ‘pocket to cloud’ organisation,” says Yugen Naidoo, general manager of Lenovo Southern Africa. The secret to its dominant position across categories lies in a channel-centric strategy that avoids direct sales to customers. This results in “robust partnerships” with channel distributors.

“Everything we touch goes through our channel partners, from distribution to resales,” says Naidoo. “This approach fosters deep market penetration and growth through collective efforts.” This inclusive strategy is evident in product rollouts as well. For instance, the reintroduction of the Motorola brand in South Africa, managed through strategic telecom partnerships, illustrates Lenovo’s tailored market approaches.

“This isn’t just about bringing a brand back to the market; it’s about strategically placing it to capture significant shares across both mid-level and premium segments.”

Naidoo points to significant upcoming trends that are shaping the technology landscape.
“The upcoming Windows 11 refresh represents a significant market opportunity, projecting a need for 1.3-million device updates worldwide.”

It may seem an obvious target, but it is an insight into future technological requirements that guides Lenovo in meeting current demand as well as anticipating and preparing for future needs.
For evidence that this is more than just marketing hype, and is driving growth, one need only turn to the company’s hiring strategy. Contrasting with the broader tech industry trends of cutbacks and layoffs, Lenovo is on an expansive trajectory.

 “We are adding 12,000 new roles focused primarily on innovation and development,” says Naidoo highlights. “This underlines our commitment to innovation and our readiness to invest in the future, even as others may be retracting.” Naidoo says the strategic benefits of Lenovo’s comprehensive tech solutions span from personal computing devices to high-level enterprise solutions.

 “Our edge computing solutions bring us closer to real-time artificial intelligence, enhancing decision-making in industries like retail and mining. This capability to deliver high-performance computing tailored to specific industry needs underscores an adaptive strategy in a competitive market.”

Ultimately, says Naidoo, it is about listening to both customer needs and evolving market conditions. “Understanding customer requirements and staying ahead of technological trends is at the core.”
What can other global brands learn from the Lenovo lesson? It’s astonishingly simple: strategic transformation is not only about expanding a product line, but about redefining the company’s role in a global ecosystem.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee.

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