Lenovo opens RTP center aimed at closing big deals

Lenovo's new, multi-million-dollar Enterprise Briefing Center is designed to enable corporate customers looking to spend tens of millions of dollars to see, touch and work with the company's latest server and data storage hardware.

The center, on Lenovo’s new RTP campus, is an outgrowth of the company's $2.1 billion acquisition of IBM's low-end server business. That deal made Lenovo the No. 3 server company worldwide behind Hewlett Packard and IBM. Lenovo, which is based in China and has a headquarters in Morrisville, also is the No. 1 maker of PCs.

Closing deals is the goal of the new, 11,000-square-foot briefing center.

IBM, which had a briefing center for its server business at its RTP campus until Lenovo acquired the business in October, reached deals with more than 90 percent of the customers that came through its center, said Steve Loeschorn, a former IBMer who now is a senior briefing consultant at Lenovo.

The goal of the center, which was unveiled Thursday following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, is to host more than 500 corporate customers annually, said Jay Parker, senior vice president of Lenovo's enterprise business.

"Lenovo has a huge multiplier effect in this region, in this state," said John Hardin, executive director of the Office of Science, Technology and Innovation at the state Commerce Department, who participated in the ribbon-cutting. "This center is really going to help grow that multiplier effect."

The center is the first of three that Lenovo plans for its enterprise business worldwide. A Beijing center is scheduled to open in May, followed by a June opening in Stuttgart, Germany.

The center features a built-in data center.

“We can do demos, we can actually test specific software applications and workloads,” Parker said.

Acquiring IBM's server business boosted Lenovo's Triangle workforce from 2,200 to 3,500 employees, with more than half of those workers engineers focused on product development.

“When we bring customers in here, we really have access to all of our technical talent, our development team, our test team, our software team, as well as our sales and services team,” Parker said.

Selling enterprise hardware often involves three or four or even more corporate partners. And the hardware can be configured to fit a customer’s particular needs.

“Sales of a server and storage and networking infrastructure is complex. It’s highly technical. It requires a lot of deep expertise,” Parker said.