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Channel Chief: Jim Holland, Regional Director – Africa, Lenovo ISG

Channel Chief: Jim Holland, Regional Director – Africa, Lenovo ISG

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Jim Holland, Regional Director – Africa, Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group, is a Chinese multinational technology company headquartered in Beijing. The Lenovo Group designs, develops, manufactures and sells personal computers, tablet computers, smartphones, workstations, servers, supercomputers, electronic storage devices and IT management software. Holland describes his management attitude as one that empowers and supports his people in order to make quality decisions. He explains to us how one of the world’s largest personal computer vendors is developing its channel business in Africa.

Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?

I look after the Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG) for Africa and reporting into the MEA organisation. This includes managing the sales organisation to ensure profit contribution, market shares and growth for the region. Building relationships with our key alliance partners, customers and channel across the territory is also key and always a priority.

Building a culture of customer first across the business is a big focus and drive for me, because being a channel focused organisation drives the business to support and develop our partners to benefit from the partnership which Lenovo brings. Ensuring that Lenovo ISG remains relevant and growing across our key focus territories is paramount and always a key metric and driver. Pushing the ‘One Lenovo’ messaging and aligning with our IDG counterparts enables close collaboration with combined growth across both organisations.

Managing the African business is, of course, always a challenge because there are always so many diverse cultures, economic challenges and political complexities across vast territories. COVID 19 has magnified some of these challenges, but all indications emphasise how the regions is on an upward trend. With that being said, Africa still holds massive opportunities for the IT industry. And for a business like Lenovo, the Digital Transformation journey for a lot of the African regions is in hyper-growth mode due to us being well positioned to support our channel and customers.

Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?

At Lenovo and with me personally, we live and die by the channel. One hundred percent of our business runs through our channel and we never, ever go direct. We rely on our routes to market, our distribution, our resellers and system integrators who are fundamental to us. In addition, we’ve also placed a lot of emphasis on educating that community and ecosystem on new technologies that become available – and even new and evolving technologies before we even release them into the market, because if they’re our routes to market then we’ve got to make sure they’re one step ahead of the curve.

How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market?

As a vendor, it’s our job to ensure our channel partners grow with us and expand their business – because if they flourish, we flourish. That’s the nature of the channel and we must respect it. Therefore, we empower them in as far as we can with consistent support, on-going education and making sure we are there for every step along the sales process. Making it as easy as possible for them to sell our products and solutions.

Our end goal is to improve the partner experience – elevating productivity and speeding up sales to accelerate revenue growth and profitability. How we achieve this is via having instant pricing for small and medium-sized businesses and midmarket deals, accelerated turnaround of deal registration and new customer bonus and acquisition bonus requests, in addition to faster turnaround on rebate payments. As more and more business speed up their Digital Transformations efforts and demand rises for solutions, we enable our channel partners and decrease the complexities in doing business.

What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?

Naturally, a lot of activities that would have required travel and logistical planning have now gone remote. At Lenovo, we’ve totally modernised the channel experience with the launch of our partner portal. The Lenovo Partner Hub signifies the next step in our digital partner transformation programme, making it easier and quicker for partners to conduct business with us.

For the first time, the Lenovo Partner Hub combines a suite of tools under one roof, in order to make it easier for our partners to access the right information at the right time. The Hub offers complete enterprise-to-enterprise sales engagement to promote collaboration and greater synergy between ourselves and our partners.

Ultimately, the Partner Hub is our one-stop shop for all of Lenovo’s PC and Smart Devices (PCSD) and Infrastructure Solutions Group (ISG) channel partners, facilitating channel growth across three key focus areas. Firstly, in providing a better experience, by enabling partners to speed up the sales process, with resources provided at the point of need.

Secondly, ensuring better results by storing all information in one centralised place, promoting faster response to opportunities and ultimately helping to win more deals. Thirdly, in providing better functionality – with more dynamic tools, such as our comprehensive product catalogue and our enhanced Lenovo Bid Platform.

What is your management philosophy?

My management style is to empower and support my people in order to make quality decisions. I always encourage initiatives and expect my team to challenge themselves to be better in everything they do. Taking people out of there comfort zone always challenges people and helps them grow as individuals.

When you look back at your career, what has been the most memorable achievement?

This industry has been very good to me and I hold many memories over many years. My most memorable achievement has been having the privilege to lead many talented people and teams and watching those individuals grow through their careers. My own career has been full of significant personal achievements which I cherish but certainly leading the Lenovo ISG team is something I’m very proud of.

What do you think will be the hot technology talking point of 2021?

This market is changing so quickly, sometimes I battle to keep up.

Some hot technologies are 5G Networks, Edge Computing, the distributed cloud. Artificial Intelligence and data analytics remain a key driver for many business decisions. Lenovo technology and solutions across the ISG, IDG and MBG businesses answer to all of these technologies to some level and with our key software alliance partners, we bring end to end solutions to the table.

What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?

I have a 11 year old son and spending time with him is a joy and privilege for me. Being there for him and sustaining a positive relationship with him is what drives me. I also like to keep fit and my health has always been a priority for me. Whether I’m spending time in the gym, boxing or running, keeping active is non-negotiable. I try to find time for

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