Amid the increasing blare of the pandemic and the spectre of omicron casting its long shadows over the tech landscape, we have ushered into 2022. Channel success which has always been the holy-grail for any business is all set to get a makeover in the new year.
As part of our effort to get the channel community better informed and get an earful of what the who’s who of Indian IT are thinking, expecting, and planning for the channel community in 2022, we have started this new section to record the channel predictions of the most prominent players of the IT industry.
Here, as part of this special series of Tech Forecasts, Lenovo India registers its predictions for 2022.
“Lenovo 360 will equip channel partners with resources and tools to grow their business and increase their earning potential. They will have access to global experts in as-a-Service and subject matter experts to build vertical-based solutions.”
One Lenovo Channel Head & Director – SMB,
Already the world’s leading PC company, Lenovo is also a leader in smartphones and tablets as it works to become one of the top brands in the in the PC+ Era. Lenovo has grown faster than the market for more than four years, thanks to its well-engineered products that targeted customers and those who do. One of the largest PC vendors and a leading smartphone company, the company has traversed a wide variety of products – whether PCs, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, servers, workstations or storage. Whether smart connected or infrastructure devices, Lenovo has created differentiation from competition, thanks to its vertically integrated end-to-end business model.
At the heart of this growing brand confidence is Ashish Sikka, One Lenovo Channel Head & Director – SMB, Lenovo India. With an unwavering focus on customer-centric solutions, Sikka manages an extensive product portfolio spanning from laptops, desktops, to workstations and tablets.
Sikka has played a critical role in leading the tablet segment to double its market share and in helping claim the number one position in the industry. Sikka has performed various roles across the company, especially, in setting up Lenovo’s tablet business in India market and in helping to establish a digital ecosystem that enables future growth.
In an exclusive interaction with SME Channels, Ashish Sikka, One Lenovo Channel Head & Director – SMB, Lenovo India, shares his company’s Channel Predictions for the year 2022. Edited excerpts
Give a brief introduction to your company.
Lenovo is a US$60 billion revenue Fortune Global 500 company serving customers in 180 markets around the world. Focused on a bold vision to deliver smarter technology for all, we are developing world-changing technologies that power (through devices and infrastructure) and empower (through solutions, services and software) millions of customers every day and together create a more inclusive, trustworthy and sustainable digital society for everyone, everywhere.
As Lenovo expands globally, we are establishing even deeper roots in each major market, investing not only in sales and distribution but also in domestic manufacturing, R&D and other high-value functions. This global reach positions us to more deeply implement our protect and attack strategy and build the foundation for long-term success.
As the pandemic is still there and a new variant has surfaced, what are the major market trends you are forecasting for 2022?
Even as the pandemic continues and the new variant surfaces, we are very positive about the market trends for 2022. As hybrid work models continue to accelerate, we are anticipating a broad range of new device form-factors, IT services and security offerings to improve interactions with technology—from ITDM all the way to end-user. I have four predictions about the coming year.
First, there is going to be a huge realization of what hybrid really means among Indian organizations – it is the middle ground of onsite and remote, but it is divergent from both. The organizations embracing this will thrive, and those who don’t will be left behind. We will see an increase in products, solutions and services designed to improve the remote employee experience.
Second, sustainability is going to be a leading factor in technology design. Previously, it was just one consideration; this year, driven by India’s youth, facets like recycled plastics, responsibly-sourced bamboo, and design for end-of-life waste recovery are going to become highlights. The role of the IT provider will continue to transform as we build in services and solutions that help our customers offset the environmental impact of their technology and support them in reaching their own sustainability goals. In 2022, Lenovo will also continue working towards a circular economy through its supply chain and product design innovation while maximizing the use of sustainable materials to cut down on waste.
Third, the use of biometrics will increase as security issues arise. Biometrics, like fingerprint, face, iris, and voice authentication, will do the security work instead. This will turn out to be beneficial for India, owing to its wide range of technical expertise and variety of languages, but an over-reliance on passwords. Public key infrastructure (PKI)-based device security, like those used today to access our mobile banking applications, and multifactor authentication (MFA), will continue to shrink reliance on passwords for application and device access.
And finally, we forecast that Indian tech users are going to incline towards features that humanize computers: flexible displays, haptic feedback, etc. We will see an increase in alternative methods of input, with more touch intuitive interfaces, pens complete with haptic feedback and voice-to-text features. New, innovative features will help slowly nurture a relationship towards designs that work with human physiology.
What major trends are you forecasting in the channel market?
For 2022, the focus of the channel market would be working towards integrated solutions and services, the as-a-service market and fulfilling their ESG-related services.
- Solutions and services will continue to be growth drivers in India. According to Gartner’s latest forecastT. spending in India is projected to reach $101.8 billion in 2022, an increase of 7% from this year. Lenovo already recognizes this trend and is working towards achieving that. We have recently introduced a programme called Lenovo 360 that puts channel partners in the strongest position to address market trends and meet their customers’ needs.
- The as-a-service market is also growing rapidly in India. IDC recently reported that India’s public cloud services market is expected to reach $10.8 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 24.1%. With increasing demand-driven for work from home setups, the hybrid cloud environment is gaining importance and customers require a way to navigate its complexity. Lenovo is addressing these by consolidating our ‘as-a-service’ offerings under the Lenovo TruScale brand which allows businesses of all sizes to customize I.T. solutions through Lenovo’s full portfolio of services and products.
We anticipate that more companies will increase their spending to improve IT infrastructure. We will see an increase in products, solutions and services designed to improve the remote employee experience.
- ESG-related services: Demand for ESG-related initiatives is growing rapidly as more customers are inclined towards setting up and achieving their own ESG goals. They are looking for services that can assist them to track and measure their progress. We’ve added tools to Lenovo 360 to help partners sell ESG-related services such as carbon offsetting programs. This allows customers to track their carbon footprint accurately and fully drive their sustainability goals. Channel partners can also turn to our asset recovery service, an end-to-end solution to manage the disposal of old devices and support them in reaching their own sustainability goals.
We also expect sustainable materials – those that can be recycled, including plastics, fibers and metals; those that can self-decompose like bioplastics; and those from more renewable sources such as bamboo – to become more readily available for product development. This will enable companies to move closer to closing the loop on product lifecycle.
Which areas you want to focus in the channel – skillsets – sales and marketing, vertical and technology practice development, service capability, etc.?
Lenovo 360 will equip channel partners with resources and tools to grow their business and increase their earning potential. Channel partners will have access to global experts in as-a-Service and subject matter experts to build vertical-based solutions. Our programs will help partners sell or up-sell solutions and services.
Through the new framework, partners will be able to sell and customize solutions with Lenovo’s consolidated as-a-Service offerings under the TruScale brand. We’ll have experts who will work with our partners on building a complimentary service delivery model via the Lenovo 360 ecosystem.
In India, partners can already start to sell as-a-service solutions, such as Device-as-a-service. We intend to add more tools over time to help partners sell more as-a-service offerings.
What percentage of budget growth are you expecting for channel development?
We can’t share the exact figures for our budget, but to put it generally: we are a channel-first business, with the vast majority of our business going via the channel, and we are investing actively so that we can grow together with our channel partners.
Some examples of our investment in channel this past year include the recent enhancements to the Lenovo Partner Hub; upcoming training and development programs for channel partners; and a number of other channel innovations that will be introduced over the course of the year.
What is your expectation from channel this year?
We are extremely positive for bright channel opportunities in 2022. India is leading the charge in services growth in Asia Pacific. According to IDC, the Indian I.T. and Services market grew at 7% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in the previous year. This further underscores our effort to provide comprehensive I.T. services and solutions.
The area of solutions and services represent huge opportunities for channel partners in India this year. To realize these opportunities, partners will need to find new ways to expand their existing portfolio and adapt to customer needs – Lenovo 360 programme offers channel partners the flexibility and breadth of resources to sell across products and services to do just that.
Are you planning any new product addition for the channel market?
We are constantly innovating our Think range of products and plan to continue with new line-ups of ThinkBook and ThinkPad. We launched the first foldable laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Fold, last year.
We are introducing four ‘outcome based’ solutions a part of Lenovo 360 as well as innovations in ThinkBook and ThinkPad which are described below:
The first, optimised workforce productivity and collaboration– this is basically maximizing uptime by solving issues quickly and increasing collaboration. This will be achieved through the Remote Work Enablement Program, Complete Conference Room and VDI Hosted Desktops. The second is infrastructure flexibility and agility– this is transforming enterprise computing to optimize business outcomes with the help of Virtualized Infrastructure and Backup & Recovery. The third outcome will be driving positive impact through sustainable operations and transparency. Our Asset Recovery Services aid us in making these sustainability improvements.
The final solution is industry specific and will be engineered by Immersive Education and Immersive Design and Engineering is to drive industry-specific outcomes.
Additionally, our recently expanded TruScale service that offers Everything-as-a-Service strategy, also helps in increasing flexibility while reducing capital expenditure. Expanding our TruScale brand beyond infrastructure services, we are bringing all of our as-a-service offerings under one umbrella to provide a truly global solution that makes everything from the pocket to the cloud available via a single contract framework. TruScale offers businesses of all sizes an everything-as-a-service platform with the flexibility they need to stay competitive with a scalable, cloud-like consumption model and predictable payment options for hardware and service inclusions.
Is there any channel expansion plan in terms of numbers in 2022?
As mentioned, we can’t share exact budget figures, but we are looking forward to further development together with our channel partners throughout the year. Stay tuned for individual announcements!