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The Future Fast: Lenovo digs deep

Lenovo has led the PC market for most of the past four years, but its strength goes far deeper, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers in an interview with THIBAULT DOUSSON, solution and services lead for Middle East, Turkey and Africa

Lenovo is not taking its leadership of the PC market for granted. While it has been the world’s number one seller of computers every quarter since early 2018, according to most industry reports, it is pushing for the same status across all its product areas. As part of this strategy, it unveiled the Lenovo 360 global channel partner framework at the end of last year, and recently launched it in South Africa. It is designed to provide easier access to the entire Lenovo portfolio, across devices, infrastructure and services and solutions. 

The solution and services group within Lenovo is key to this strategy, and we asked its new lead for Middle East, Turkey and Africa, THIBAULT DOUSSON, to unpack the company’s thinking, and his division’s role.

THIBAULT DOUSSON: It is trying to get the general partners to start thinking more about the solutions they can bring to the customers rather than just a product. If they want to sell product, that’s entirely up to them. The Lenovo 360 framework is there to help them whichever way they want to go. So instead of talking to multiple partners, you can talk to one partner. Where my division fit in is that we try to attach services around those solutions, so that we can we can drive positive outcomes to the sales. 

ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK:  The channel is quite important to this strategy. Clearly, the supply chain must be equally important. We know supply the supply chain crisis has hit most organisations, but Lenovo weathered it quite well. Can you tell us more about that?

TD: Lenovo is still a company that’s right on top when it comes to supply chain. So even though we got hit like anyone else, because it was a global crisis, we did a little bit better, because of the way we manage the supply chain, the way we’re managing our suppliers, and the continuous investment in using artificial intelligence and machine learning within our manufacturing capability as well as our supply chain capabilities.

AG: I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing your global CEO, YY (Yang Yuanqing), a few times. He likes to talk about a performance culture in the organisation. How does that tie in with what you saying about the supply chain, but also with Lenovo 360?

TB: There’s a great culture at Lenovo that allows you to sit down with everybody involved in a project and figure out what went well and what went wrong. It’s something that we do on a regular basis on all sorts of projects. The Lenovo 360 framework is exactly the same in the way we looked at what was working in our channel programme. We sat with a lot of our partners and distributors and said, how can we improve? Through the pandemic, it became quite clear to us that we need to go towards more of a solution-orientation framework, and we need all our partners to be able to sell across the portfolio set to give a proper solution to the customers.

AG: What do  you believe the impact will be in the coming two or three years, specifically in South Africa and across the African continent, of this enhanced collaboration?

TB: There is something almost more exciting and almost more sticky than to sell a solution to your customers and say, what is your problem we’re trying to solve? And what can I do to make that problem go away and produce outcomes, whether it’s in education, whether it’s in manufacturing facilities, in the healthcare system, whatever the vertical map might be?

If we can teach our partners and ourselves how to sell solutions, I think that’s the future and a better way for us to become a vendor that people trust. If you are able to bring solutions to the table, which encompass absolutely everything, the pricing conversation becomes a secondary conversation. The conversation is about trying to understand each business by talking to each other. By combining forces with different parties, we can come up with a solution that that delivers positive outcomes. 

I believe Africa has got a great opportunity there as well. Because there’s a lot of things to be built. And there’s a lot of new components that need to be created, new partners that need to come forward. We need to find financial partners everywhere. We need to find diverse logistics partners everywhere. We need to be able to upskill our channel partners so that we can do those sort of things together as well. 

If our partners start to feel that we’ve got their interest at heart and the customer knows that they’ve got good people to talk to that can deliver good solutions, we’re going to become even more successful than it is right now. And we can do skills transfer into Africa, which you and I know is the right thing to do.

To watch and listen to the full interview, click here

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