With the acquisition of Motorola and a restructuring of its EMEA region, Lenovo Mobile Business Group (MBG) is gearing up to take major market share in traditionally less strong markets such as Western Europe and, more specifically, Africa.
Graham Braum, head of Lenovo MBG for Africa, says the group’s new strategy for the region is aimed at making it the dominant player in targeted markets on the continents.
“Historically, we’ve focused more on distribution in Eastern Europe and the Middle East where we have done particularly well,” says Braum. “Now that we have formed the EMEA region, we’re bringing huge focus to Western Europe and Africa, and really activating these markets for the first time. Having said that, Motorola has traditionally had a strong presence in countries like the UK, Spain and Latin America, so as we transition into Lenovo Moto following the acquisition, we’re building a single go to market strategy and building a landscape that we can address.”
Braum says that in Western Europe, the company will increase its focus on countries such as Germany, France, Italy and the UK.
“A lot of these territories are pretty much start-up,” he says. “And the same can be said about certain territories in Africa, other than North Africa which has traditionally been supplied and supported from the Middle East.”
Braum says that Africa has been divided into four sub-territories: North Africa; East Africa; West and Central Africa; and Southern Africa. Each region, he adds, has a Territory Lead with a team under them to address the various clusters.
“North Africa is now run out of Casablanca and looks after Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco,” Braum explains. Lenovo MBG has enjoyed encouraging growth in the few months that it’s been operating in the region and grown its market share substantially.
The East African region will be catered for from Lenovo’s office in Nairobi, Braum says. “Wave One of our strategy for this territory is to target prime markets such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda,” he says. “Wave Two will see us moving aggressively into some of the smaller countries in the region.”
The hub for business in West and Central Africa is the company’s office in Lagos.
“In this region we are predominantly focused on Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Senegal and Cameroon,” says Braum. “We have a separate Territory Lead for Ghana and Ivory Coast, and one for the other countries, but they all report into Lagos.”
Lenovo has always had a strong presence in sub-Saharan Africa, but especially in southern and South Africa, and it is now looking to further entrench this with the creation of the Southern Africa territory. Run from Johannesburg, this region comprises the SADC countries and South Africa.
“We have also moved all the African function heads, financial head, operations lead and marketing to South Africa,” Braum reveals. “And they will now be reporting directly into Europe instead of the Middle East as we did in the past.”
Braum feels that the new structure is key in Lenovo MBG’s quest to be a dominant player in its chosen markets.
“In the rest of the world, we’ve moved [MBG] to the Number 4 position and our objective – definitely in Africa – is to be a Top Three player,” he says. “That’s really what we’re focusing on. It will differ from country to country, depending on how long we’ve been operating there and which countries we launch into first. But any country that we are investing in, we want to be among the Top Three vendors.
“We’ve got a lot of differentials in our strategy and consumer organisation that can get us there,” he says. “More than 50% of Africa’s population is made up of 14- to 22-year-olds – a very youthful population – and we’ve got the vibrancy with our products and campaigns to best address this demographic.
“Our digital logo, for example, appeals to the youth,” he adds, “and a lot of the new utilities we offer on our products break away from the things people have seen in the mobile space over the last few years. We’re making mobile personal again, making it a productivity tool, a tool that is of benefit to our customers.”
This philosophy, Braum says, is one that Lenovo is adopting across the entire spectrum of its product range.
“What we’re doing as a group – from the phone, the phablet, tablets, PC, workstations and everything that connects to the cloud – is to make it easier for the consumer to get more out of it,” he says.
The Lenovo Moto Z and its Moto Mods, he adds, is a prime example.
“With the Moto Z and Moto Mods you really do see this,” he says. “Technology is always changing – quicker than ever – which means that, today, you buy a top-of-the-range device and, tomorrow, it’s outdated because it no longer has the best camera, for example. With the Moto Z experience, it never changes, depending on which mod is launched and what features it offers.
“The JVL SoundBoost, as another example, is not just for entertainment,” he adds. “It can be used very effectively for conference calls. And often is. It’s about practical, day-to-day use.”
A vital aspect of the Moto Z and its Moto Mods is that the technology is all based on open source.
“This means that anyone can create their own mods,” Braum says. “And the technology could even impact on the corporate market. You could develop a mod for added security. So you might have a specific mod for visitors which only allows them access to certain areas. Or for employees who are on different levels of security. Even for different divisions within a company.
“The potential and opportunities are only limited by imagination,” he adds.
Braum says that it is all about creating an experience for customers rather than simply providing a device.
“It’s about changing the engagement we have with the phone,” he says. “It’s about the user experience. It’s more about that than speeds and feeds. Specs are important, but not as important as they used to be.
“Today, it is about different user experiences,” Braum says. “And that is what we’re aiming to provide.”