Lenovo, a leading technology provider with roughly 80,000 employees worldwide, has made a significant move into the services and solutions business with the establishment of Lenovo Solutions and Services Group (SSG). I recently sat down with Ken Wong, the President of SSG, to discuss the company, making the shift to solutions and services, leading a global organization and his leadership journey.
Making the Shift
Lenovo has come a long way since it acquired the PC division from IBM in 2005. Since then, the company has made several acquisitions, including the Motorola smartphone business from Google. These acquisitions, combined with organic growth, have enabled Lenovo to become one of the largest providers of devices, ranging from pocket to cloud.
However, Wong stated that Lenovo’s customers were increasingly finding technology more complex and complicated, and the pace of change was faster than ever before. Enter SSG.
SSG leveraged Lenovo’s expertise in hardware to offer solutions that enable its customers to harness the full powers of technology. “We are more than a hardware company; we are a solutions and services company.” Wong said.
Ecosystem of Partnerships
During the shift to SSG, there was some initial apprehension from partners who believed that Lenovo’s new venture would compete with their business. However, Wong explained that Lenovo has been working to find a “sweet spot” where they can work together with their partners to offer only the best to their customers.
One of the ways Lenovo has achieved this is by evaluating their stack of services and finding areas where their partners excel. Lenovo and their partners then combine their strengths to offer a full solution to their customers.
Wong emphasized that Lenovo’s expansion into the services and solutions business has not been a zero-sum game. Through SSG, they have developed a bigger market, in turn, creating a win-win scenario between Lenovo and their partners. “Roughly 90% of our business is conducted through partners, making us one of the most channel-friendly companies on the planet,” he said.
It’s no secret that the complexity of IT technology is vastly different today than it was five or 10 years ago. Wong realized that building a successful business in today’s world involves three critical steps: building the team, creating the strategy, and driving the execution.
“In the early days of my career, I did not understand why creating a strategy wasn’t first. But as I continued down my leadership path, I understood. No one is Superman or Superwoman. No one will know everything that you need to know. The most important thing is to find the right people to build a business because they are subject matter experts. They will figure out the right strategy and execution for your company.” Wong stated.
As a leader, he stresses the importance of providing your team with the resources and support they need to succeed in driving new ventures in today’s ever-changing IT landscape.
Leading a Global Organization
Leading a large global organization can also prove to be a daunting task, and it requires effective leadership and management skills to ensure success. The complexity of managing a diverse range of products and services, as well a global workforce of roughly 80,000 strong, makes the task even more challenging.
He highlighted two key factors that are crucial for success: communication and diversity.
Communication is essential in any organization, but it is even more critical in a large global organization. What may seem like a straightforward message in the boardroom may not be as easy to understand across the organization. Wong emphasizes the need to over-communicate and to engage in one-on-one meetings and company roundtables to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Another crucial factor that Wong highlights is the importance of diversity in a global organization and believes the benefits outweigh the costs. He stresses the value of working with people from different backgrounds and cultures – they bring different perspectives and ideas to the table, leading to better decision-making and innovation. In today’s globalized world, a diverse team is a competitive advantage that can help a company succeed in an increasingly interconnected and dynamic environment.
Building A Dream Team
For Wong, the two most critical characteristics of a great team member are self-reflection and learning agility. He believes that being able to assess oneself honestly is essential for personal growth and development.
Learning agility is equally important in a fast-paced, constantly evolving industry like tech. “Individuals who have the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn again is a critical skill I look for in people. We are running a technology business and the pace of change is just unmatchable. You must have the capability to challenge yourself, challenge your status quo and create something new,” Wong states.
Wong’s approach is a reminder that the most critical factor in a team’s success is not their expertise but their attitude and mindset. By fostering a culture of self-reflection, learning, and adaptation, Wong has built a team that is well-equipped to handle the continuously evolving technology sector.
Up and to the Right
Many of us have a vision of where we want to be in our careers. We set goals, make plans, and take actions to achieve them. And when we finally reach a certain level of success, we may ask ourselves, “Am I on the right path to be a successful leader?”
But for Wong, it’s not about whether he’s on the right path or not – it’s about continuously learning and improving. “The more I progress in my career, the more I realize I have a lot to learn,” he said.