The Top 25 Newsmakers of 2005

Number 1
Murray Wright: Lenovo Canada President

Ex-Ingram Micro Canada boss goes back to work running Lenovo Canada in what has become the comeback story of the year in the Canadian IT channelThrough a set of circumstance beyond his control, Murray Wright tells two very important stories in the channel in 2005.
He is CDN’s top newsmaker because he was unceremoniously dismissed, along with the vice-president of marketing Dave Walsh, at Ingram Micro Canada, which sent shock waves throughout the IT industry.
Wright then basically picked himself up, dusted himself off, and managed to land the presidency at Lenovo Canada.
The Lenovo story by itself was major news this year.
The channel was still working off its New Year’s hangover when IBM sold its PC business for US$1.2 billion cash and stock to Lenovo Group Ltd. of China. IBM’s PC division lost money in the past three years, according to a Dec. 30 filing with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission. In the first six months of 2004 alone, it lost US$139 million.
Overnight, the little-known Lenovo made other top-flight PC vendors such as Dell and HP sit up and take notice. Both firms started scrambling to piece together IBM-marketshare displacement strategies.
To Lenovo Canada’s credit, the subsidiary hung on to its top channel partners by maintaining the status quo.
For Wright, he admitted that not even in his “wildest dreams” back in January would he believe he’d be the new president of Lenovo Canada replacing Heather Ross, who left to pursue an executive opportunity at TD Canada Trust.
In his role at Ingram Micro Canada, Wright thought of Lenovo as an unknown in the market.
“IBM was going to do something because the PC division was under pressure, and we’d often heard that IBM either didn’t make any money or made limited amounts of money in PCD. It made sense to partner with someone who is focused on that business,” he said.
On May 20th, Wright’s career was thrown a curve. After a string of profitable years under his tenure, Ingram Micro’s vice-president of North American operations Keith Bradley made managerial changes replacing Wright with Martin Kalsbeek.

Ingram shocker
To this day, Wright still does not know what happened or why it happened.
“I’d rather focus on Lenevo, candidly, at this stage. I would tell you that decisions get made in business for a variety of reasons. I am proud of the job I did at Ingram Micro and I left them with big results. I’m looking forward to the challenge of Lenovo and Ingram Micro will be an important partner for us. Everything else is history,” he said.
Besides the fall-out at Ingram, Wright was on hand for some other major decisions at the distributor.
The company brought out its own V7 monitor line and developed a digital home business with help from Walsh and his team. But in early May Ingram Micro’s parent decided to lay off 550 workers – including an estimated 140 in Canada – as part of an outsourcing and optimization plan to consolidate business operations in North America.
Wright believes the jury is still out on whether the outsourcing move will work.

Lenovo and the digital home
He did say that the digital home strategy is very solid. “I like the strategy with digital home business. There is a lot of convergence happening in the home and in retail and even through the channel, and I think they are on the right track there,” he said.
Wright is also looking to position Lenovo in the digital home space.
After spending the summer enjoying an extended period with his family for the first time, Wright pursued new opportunities and landed the position at Lenovo Canada, which he called the “next page” in his career.
At Lenovo, he says the biggest step is breaking away from IBM’s PC Division and figuring out a strategy to move the business forward with all the new products Lenovo has in its portfolio.
A key to success, Wright believes will be China’s expertise in supply chains.
Wright does not believe orchestrating his own comeback brings any sort of vindication.
After his tenure at Ingram he received several calls of support from the channel and other distributors which reassured him of his capabilities and qualifications.
He is thankful, however, about the Lenovo opportunity and he wants to bring his many years of channel and distribution experience to the US$14 billion company.
“I am looking out the front window and not so much out the back.”

Number 2
Wendy Hayes: Apple Canada Director

Wendy Hayes oversaw the opening of the first Apple store in Canada, which gave chills to some partners. But she says they have nothing to fear.One of the biggest stories in Apple history took place this year when the company decided to switch to Intel processors.
In doing so it embraced the world’s biggest manufacturer of CPUs and opened the possibility that Macintosh users could gain easier access to Windows programs.
Resellers will be looking to Apple Canada managing director Wendy Hayes to lead the division into a new era.
But she’s tight-lipped about the future.
“Because we haven’t announced any products, there’s not much I can say at this point,” she said. “The commitment is that by next June, which is a one-year window from when Steve Jobs announced the transition, we’ll see our first products out.”
However, she was forthcoming about the impact the opening of the first Apple store in Canada (in Toronto) will have on the company’s resellers here.

Apple on sale
“The retail store coming to Canada is a good thing, because it increases the overall awareness of the product and it helps enhance that halo effect,” said Hayes.
“I can tell you our partners have done really well, we get lots of feedback that the reseller’s traffic is phenomenal (and) they’re always calling for more products, which is a good sign that they have lots of demand,” she said.
Hayes admitted that any time anything shifts in the channel, whether it’s a big box retailer, a new online player or the Apple retail store, partners get nervous.
“But our job is to make sure they’re best prepared to serve the customer demand that we know is coming and that we’re creating through the innovation of our products,” she said.
Looking back over 2005, Hayes added, the channel has had one of the best years of her eight-year tenure with Apple Canada.

‘Coexisting’
“That tells me we did a pretty good job and they did a good job serving our customer sets.
“We’re in a very different space now that we’re actually coexisting than we were in terms of anticipating what might happen in that coexistence.”
To further strengthen its relationships with partners, Apple Canada made some changes over the year to structure its program more effectively.
“The biggest change we’re seeing is our participation and discussions which is making way for more effective deployment of dollars,” said Hayes.
“I feel really good spending so much time engaging with our partners and it’s maximizing our opportunity to work with them.”
VAR-structured programs have also undergone reassessment this year, said Hayes, adding that the old adage of one size fits all no longer applies.
“We have different markets: a large consumer base, a creative base, pro video, pro audio base, each are different in terms of what the partners need in those areas,” she said.
Hayes said the idea now is to get very specific and tie programs directly to specialized VARs in order to give them assistance in pricing, access to product and price protection.
“We worked hard the last year and a half to say no, what a big box retailer needs is different than what a small VAR needs,” she said.
Another area that Apple has seen major growth in Canada has been its wildly popular music players.
“The iPod is a product which has become a cornerstone for the music component of the digital lifestyle, it’s just created a momentum and we’ve done extremely well in that category,” said Hayes.

New opportunities
“The iPod has created a much greater awareness of Apple, but it’s not unhooked from the Apple brand.”
It has also created new retail opportunities for the company, added Hayes, with stores like Shoppers Drug Mart and Telus now carrying iPods.
“We worked hard to make sure this digital lifestyle message resonates really well through our channel to our customers,” she said.
For 2006, Hayes would like to continue to capitalize on the momentum of the iPod category.
“My goal is we will be deeper and broader in terms of our distribution,” she said.
Hayes would not comment on whether a second Apple store in Canada is on the horizon.
“Yorkdale is doing really well, the store has great expertise but we’re not into every solution market,” she said.
“When you want to get into some of the third party solutions that VARs can deliver, we need that channel, they do hook it all together for us.”

Number 3
Mike Lazaridis: President, Research In Motion

Stellar profits failed to completely erase the legal concerns facing RIM, making it a good-news, bad-news year for the head of the companyIt was a year that went from highs to lows for Research In Motion chairman and co-chief executive officer Mike Lazaridis.
In the spring he was certain he had hammered out a US$450 million settlement with NTP Inc. after a U.S. jury ruled RIM had infringed its patents. But in June the supposed deal collapsed.
Then in August an appeals court upheld most of the lower court rulings against RIM, although sending the case back for more hearings. In October the U.S.
Supreme Court refused to temporarily stay that decision.
Meanwhile RIM’s revenues and profits – if not its share price – were soaring.
But a lot of that growth has been in the international markets, and there’s concern NTP will soon win an injuction from selling BlackBerry devices in the U.S.
Lazaridis declined to comment on its dispute with NTP, nor would he say what the company would do if it is prohibited from selling products in the U.S.
“I think we’ve got lots of contingency plans,” he said. “I just don’t want to get into them.”
For the time being he’d rather talk about its products. The company is just releasing BlackBerry devices for third-generation wireless (3G) networks, which are now available from Canadian carriers in major metropolitan areas.
However Lazaridis does not believe 3G is a major selling point for the handhelds.
“The ability to open attachments, the ability to read PowerPoint presentations, and see them in full colour on the 8700 and the 7130s is an incredible added bonus, but I don’t think that’s the reason people buy these devices,” he said. “The real reason they use it is to stay in touch, have access to information and to free them from their desk.”
3G networks using technologies such as EDGE and EV-DO will be a boon to mobile workers, according to one BlackBerry software developer.
“It really lets field service workers have a tremendous amount of information on the fly,” said Jill Stelfox, chief executive officer of Herndon, Va.-based Defywire Inc., which sells middleware for handheld devices including the BlackBerry and PocketPC-based hardware.

Boon in emergencies
“You can do a lot more in the mobile world today than you could even a year ago, because of the 3G networks and because of the competition of devices.”
For example, Stelfox said, emergency workers responding to a disaster could download schematic diagrams of a building before entering it.
“There’s no more latency in the network, and you can move a very big amount of data in a very quick fashion.”
But Lazaridis believes the ability to communicate in an emergency is an even bigger selling point for corporate BlackBerry installations.
He said a company can set up a Web site with tables that allow workers to enter changes to their contact info in the event of a disaster, and those changes can be pushed to their colleagues’ BlackBerries.
“Your servers can be down, your access to all your systems can be completely down, that information was pushed to your device as soon as it was changed,” he said. “It has a profound influence on how companies view these kinds of devices, because all of a sudden they go from a nice to have to an absolute must.”
Lazaridis founded RIM in Waterloo in 1984 after being exposed to both e-mail and local-area networks while studying engineering at the University of Waterloo and working co-op terms for IT vendors in southern Ontario. He decided to focus on wireless communications in 1987 after attending a conference where he saw a Japanese company demonstrate a wireless applications for managing vending machines for Coca Cola.
Since then, BlackBerry has become a household word, and Lazaridis has become one of Canada’s most prominent high-tech executives. Over the past two years, he and his wife have donated $50.6 million to the University of Waterloo, and five years ago, he used $100 million of his own money to establish a theoretical physics centre in Waterloo.
As the year closes, NTP is not the only thing on his mind. In order to make sure he’s not surrounded by competitors, RIM is partnering with Palm Inc. and Nokia to put its software on their devices.
Still, he’s keeping a wary eye on Palm, which is also teaming with Microsoft to release a smartphone next year.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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