Lenovo has promoted company veteran Rob Cato to serve as channel chief for the entire North America business as the vendor continues working to unify its PC and data center sides, the company said.
Cato has served as channel chief for Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group since 2018, previously holding the title of vice president of North America channels in the division. He joined Lenovo in 2005 through its acquisition of IBM‘s PC business, and before that had worked at IBM since 1994.
Now, as the company pursues its “One Lenovo” strategy and prepares to launch a unified channel program next year, Lenovo has named Cato the vice president for North America channels in the company’s International Sales Organization.
Cato will report to Vlad Rozanovich, who is president of Lenovo’s North America business and senior vice president for the company’s International Sales Organization, which covers all Lenovo sales outside of China.
Cato will lead the “One Lenovo” North America channel team as of Oct. 1, bringing together both the Intelligent Devices Group and Infrastructure Solutions Group (formerly the Data Center Group) channels, a Lenovo representative said in an email to CRN. Cato was not immediately available for an interview.https://da4f77fa4401024ef93588e93f429f6d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Lenovo partner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said in an interview with CRN that Cato “seems like a great choice” for the role and that he is optimistic about Lenovo’s plans to unite its two businesses overall. “It makes sense to have it all under one umbrella,” he said.
While Goldstein has traditionally thought of Lenovo as a provider of PCs and peripherals, he has taken notice of Lenovo’s growing “emphasis on data center.” LAN Infotech may be looking to add new vendors in data center at a time of major supply constraints, in order to “not pull all of our eggs in one basket,” he said. And Lenovo’s move to bring together its two businesses makes the company an even stronger candidate for potentially engaging around data center, Goldstein said.
In an interview with CRN in August, Rozanovich had disclosed that the “One Lenovo” initiative would include the appointment of a North America channel leader for the company, and that he was considering Cato for the role.
“The goal is that we will have a channel leader for One Lenovo for North America. I want somebody on my staff that’s going to handle everything channel across our business,” Rozanovich said. “Over the next year we will have both ISG and IDG coverage of accounts. But I want one channel leader … I want there to be one person that’s going to be responsible for all of that and have ownership of all of it.”
Steve Biondi will remain as head of North America channels for Lenovo’s Infrastructure Solutions Group, continuing to report to Wilfredo Sotolongo, chief customer officer for the ISG. There will be a “dotted line” from Biondi to Cato in terms of the reporting structure, Lenovo said.
The “One Lenovo” strategy focuses on integrating Lenovo’s PC and data center businesses more closely, to create synergies in the way the company develops solutions and goes to market with partners. The company plans to debut its new Lenovo 360 channel program, based around the “One Lenovo” approach, in early 2022.
The two sides of Lenovo’s business have already begun working together more closely with Cato and Biondi having started to do joint customer meetings, Rozanovich said in the August interview with CRN. Meanwhile, internal training has begun to make sure that IDG salespeople understand the ISG portfolio, and vice versa, he said.
In a statement provided to CRN over email on Wednesday, Cato said that Lenovo’s global channel organization is “designed to reinforce our channel-first strategy and customer-centric approach by improving global tools and creating additional benefits for our channel partners.”
“We see our channel partners as extensions of our Lenovo sales teams – and our goal is to create new revenue streams of opportunities for partners across the portfolio, as we go to market together as a united front,” Cato said in the statement.