Lenovo readies for first-ever North American partner conference

Mandalay BayAbout 400 of Lenovo’s closest channel partners will take to Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort next month for the company’s first-ever North American partner conference.

Dubbed Lenovo Accelerate 2011, the show is slated for May 16 to 18 and is approaching sell-out status. The company’s Canadian partners are going to be out in force, according to David Stephens, director of sales for the reseller channel at Lenovo Canada.

Of the 350-400 resellers in attendance, Stephens expects the Canadian contingent to rank more than a quarter.

“There’s been an overwhelming response from the channel community, particularly in Canada,” Stephens said. “By the end of this week, we will have met capacity for the conference.”

So what can the capacity crowd expect at the conference?

Stephens said the key message for partners will be that “everything we’re doing to do is geared towards the channel,” and the goal is to be “simple, consistent and predictable” in dealings with the partner community. To that end, don’t expect a revolution coming from Las Vegas. Stephens said the company will announce “some small refinements” to its overall channel strategy, but prefers to keep a ‘steady-as-she-goes’ approach around which partners can build their business with Lenovo.

“There’s no point in introducing a program that disappears one quarter later,” Stephens said. “WE want to make sure they know how we can make money with them, because if they’re not making money, they’re not going to be happy selling Lenovo.”

Slated to keynote the event is Rory Ready, president and COO of Lenovo to talk through the company’s overall strategy. Also, Stephens said partners can expect new product and marketing and branding strategy announcements, responses to partner feedback that the company needs to grow awareness around its brand and value.

“We’ve seen some tremendous success worldwide, growing up the list of the top five PC vendors, and that’s driven us to record market share,” Stephens said. “This is our chance to explain our direction, what the strategy is, and why it’s working.”

Simply put, Stephens said the company’s strategy in Canada is to “protect” its existing base in the enterprise and public sector markets, while building up SMB and the consumer market. For the last two years, Lenovo has been on a drive to parlay its enterprise success into the SMB arena, and it has seen growth there, but it still wants to ratchet that business up. The consumer arena, meanwhile, is more of a new topic for Lenovo. One that partners are pointing it towards, Stephens said.

“We’ve dabbled in [the consumer space] but we’ve been told that in order to be truly relevant, we have to go after that market,” he said.

To that end, one of Lenovo’s biggest goals at the conference is to get its top partners all in the same place at the same time, and listen to what solution providers have to say and what they expect from the vendor.

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