New Lenovo NA president talks new server strategy, sees better performance in Canada over U.S.

Orlando, FL – The Canadian channel probably spent the good part of the past year learning to pronounce the name of the previous president of Lenovo North America – in fact, it was almost exactly a year ago that we were introduced to Aymar de Lencquesaing – however, that’s an executive from another time.

emilio ghilardi
Emilio Ghilardi, president of Lenovo North America

At this year’s Accelerate Partner Forum, following an introduction by NA channel chief Sammy Kinlaw, Emilio Ghilardi, instead, walked onstage.

The slender executive, who hails from Italy as opposed to de Lencquesaing’s native France, gave the audience a few teasers at best for what’s to come – a big mobility unveiling in June, a major new Nutanix product in the coming weeks – but made no announcements.

Instead, the company focused exclusively on results from the past year, targets, and its core message – it’s time to sell servers.

Lenovo wants so much for the channel to sell its System x line that Ghilardi dedicated one of his three channel imperatives to it.

The other two are to continue to grow the PC market, and to sell services.

In fact, the company believes there is much more opportunity in the server space than the PC space, even though the company managed to grow in double digits PC shipments in an era of downturn.

Most recent IDC numbers put Lenovo in the No. 4 position with 7.5 per cent global market share and a YoY growth of 169.4 per cent thanks to the x86 acquisition.

“Here, we’re half the size of the competition,” Ghilardi said.

It’s also noteworthy that server sales are performing much better in Canada than the U.S., Ghilardi told CDN in an interview following Tuesday’s keynote.

It’s likely that the new president hasn’t had much time to analyse. Ghilardi joined Lenovo from Hewlett Packard Enterprise only in July 2015 as North American chief operating officer and only moved up to this role last month during the company’s global restructuring, which also saw de Lencquesaing become co-president of the company’s newly formed Mobile Business Group.

Nevertheless, Ghilardi speculates that the relatively better performance is thanks to factors including a strong IBM legacy, and closer and actually fewer relationships in Canada.

But Lenovo is also going to take a page out of its PC book.

The company has started and will be ramping up efforts to have customer-centric advisory boards, similar to what it has done for its ThinkPad lines, except now for data centres.

While more complex, and requiring both general and specialized conversations, this should help Lenovo become more use case and solution oriented.

“Devices are great, but you don’t talk to a CIO about the X2 Tablet,” Ghilardi said. “The data centre gives you a different level of credibility; you become part of their future.”

As for what he brings to the company and the role of president, Ghilardi touted his experience as one of the first to try and build the technology channel in Europe, before it existed.

“The idea was how to fight the Dell direct model,” he said, explaining that at the time, there were only IBM resellers.

I was involved in the channel assembly; we designed and implemented the concept of a distributor serving the resellers, serving the end users,” he said. “We’ve always been saying, ultimately the channel will win. Let’s just find the a way.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Yin
Dave Yin
Digital Staff Writer at Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel.

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