Hardware vendor Lenovo Group is using its sponsorship and activities at next year's Winter Olympics in Italy to speed up the integration of its Chinese operations with the PC business it acquired from IBM earlier this year, according to a company executive.
"We're using the Olympics as a catalyst to accelerate the integration of the two components of Lenovo, bringing them together as one integrated company as fast as possible," Philippe Davy, vice president of Lenovo's Olympic Games marketing, said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Company-wide activities geared around the Olympics include an Internet portal that employees around the world can access to find out what their peers are doing in Italy to prepare for the Games, Davy said. Lenovo held a draw in July to select 10 company staff to go to Italy to help in carrying the Olympic torch on its way to the Olympic Games, he added.
The values espoused by the Olympics, particularly in terms of international friendship, mesh well with what Lenovo is trying to do in bringing together IBM's old PC operations with its Chinese business, Davy said.
Lenovo closed its $1.75 billion purchase of Big Blue's PC business in May. Extremely successful within China, the company, formerly known as Legend Group, had previously sold very few products outside of its home base. With IBM's PC unit under its belt, Lenovo became the world's third-largest PC vendor behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
What Lenovo needs to do now is get its brand known worldwide and the Olympics is the perfect venue for spreading that message, according to Davy.
Long before its IBM purchase, back in March 2004, Lenovo joined The Olympic Partner (TOP) Program, the first Chinese company to do so. As a TOP program member, Lenovo became an official computing technology equipment and service provider to both the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, in 2006 and the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.
Thirty people from Lenovo have been in Torino working with the International Olympic Committee over the past 18 months on installing and testing the company's computing equipment, according to Davy. "We'll ramp that number up to 60," he said, by the time the games begin on Feb. 10, 2006. The games will run through Feb. 26. While it's hard to quantify, "hundreds" of Lenovo employees will be involved in helping ensure all the company's hardware performs optimally at the event, he said. Wang Lei is Lenovo's onsite technical leader in Torino with ultimate responsibility for smooth running of operations at the Winter Olympics, Davy added.
Lenovo will be supporting the Games Management Systems, the Games INFO2006 System, the Venue and Central Results System and the Commentator Information System with 5,000-plus Lenovo-branded PCs, 350 servers and 600 notebooks, according to Davy. All of the hardware is from China, not IBM machines, since the computers have been in place since last year prior to the purchase of Big Blue's PC unit, he explained.
Around 200 IBM ThinkCenter PCs and ThinkPad laptops will be in use in seven Lenovo lounges the company is working to outfit, Davy said. The ratio of PCs to notebooks is yet to be determined, but the bulk of the machines will be PCs, he added. The lounges are for the Olympic athletes so that they can access e-mail and download music, Davy said. They'll be located in three athlete villages in Torino, Sestriere and Bardonecchia and in the main media center in Torino.