IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Lenovo Has Device as a Service and Programs for MSPs Coming This Year

According to North American channel chief Rob Cato (pictured), easier subscription-priced purchasing and offerings for partners that emphasize services over hardware are among the company’s priorities for the months ahead. By Rich Freeman

With its eyes squarely on the IT world’s stampede toward “everything as a service,” Lenovo plans to make purchasing its client hardware at subscription rates easier in the year ahead.

“Device as a service is not a new thing,” says Rob Cato, vice president of North American channel for Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group, “but I do think we’ve got to make it more seamless for our partners to be able to transact with us.”

Lenovo competitor Dell introduced a sweeping as-a-service purchasing program late in 2019. HP has had a similar offering since 2016.

Other priorities for the coming months include enhancing partner communications through vehicles like the cross-channel partner hub Lenovo introduced last July, collecting more feedback via partner advisory councils, and introducing more programs for managed service providers with limited hardware expertise.

“I do want to make sure that we have the right offerings and the right solutions for those partners that maybe were born in the cloud that have a more managed services portfolio and are starting to hear from their customers that they need more offerings and solutions that would include things like Lenovo hardware, software, and services,” Cato says.

The Dell Expert Network, which debuted in 2018, is similarly designed to help partners that don’t normally resell hardware meet customer demand for PCs. 

Cato spoke with ChannelPro with just under three months to go in a fiscal year that has posed unique challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic but also produced strong financial returns. In the second quarter, for example, the most recent one for which data is available, revenue in the company’s PC and Smart Devices Group, for example, rose 8% year-over-year to $11.5 billion, an all-time record. Lenovo led the industry in shipments and market share during last year’s fourth quarter, according to IDC, which says sales of desktops, notebooks, and workstations across manufacturers grew 13.1% globally in 2020.

“It’s been a strong year for Lenovo in the channel,” says Cato, adding that the company expected hardware sales to climb at least a little in response to the sudden shift to work-from-home computing last spring.

“We went into this without a real clear direction on what the market was going to do, but we felt very strongly that this would create an environment where demand for PCs and many of our products and services would really drive a lot of growth,” he says.

Though demand for client devices did indeed increase, however, the pandemic’s devastating economic effects confronted partners with severe cash flow challenges. Lenovo announced a partner stimulus package last April to help resellers get through that period of reduced sales activity.

Included within it was an extension on credit terms from 60 days to 90 days for all partners who qualify for the financing program Lenovo operates in collaboration with DLL Group. The revised policy is still in effect, and will remain in place until at least the end of March.

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