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Canalys Channel Forum: Hardware leaders share shortages frustration

Given the impact that component shortages have had across the industry, the topic was bound to be a subject covered by some of the hardware giants

Senior leaders at the largest hardware vendors have been discussing industry shortages, warning that the current situation will not ease any time soon.

Executives at Lenovo, HP and Dell were given an opportunity to provide updates to partners at the Canalys Channel Forum and inevitably the topic of shortages was covered because of the continuing impact it is having in the market.

First up was Lenovo chairman and CEO Yuanqing Yang, who said the vendor recognised that the shortages issues had a direct impact on its partners.

“Over the last few months, I have spent most of my time chasing the supply and calling our key suppliers,” he said. “I understand how important it is to you.

“We are transforming from the world’s number one PC company to global services and solution provider. I see huge potential for growth as we address opportunities across the new IT landscape.”

Matthew Zielinski, senior vice-president and president international sales organisation at Lenovo, said the shortages issue had been frustrating and was a reality of the current situation and he expected it to continue until 2022.

“We don’t find pleasure in disappointing customers, but it feels like we are best off in a really difficult situation because of the way we’ve managed the supply chain over the years,” he said.

“We are asking customers to be as flexible as possible, be flexible on form factors, screen sizes  and configurations, because if you can toggle some of those bits, chances are you might be able to improve some of the delivery timing.”

Next to cover the issue was Christoph Schell, chief commercial office at HP, who said the industry was used to managing demand constraints and cost pressures, but agreed that the current situation was slightly different.

“All of us have become experts in procurement of components, factory management and automation and how to run an order through am OEM factory and have it come out the other end to a customer,” he said. “These are all topics we touched on in the past, but now it’s a daily occurrence.

“It is a situation that will stay with us for some months to come.”

Schell added that as costs rise, HP would have to pass that on and it was pushing customers towards buying a scalable service.

He said the current situation should be seen as an opportunity to promote services and solution sales and urged the channel to work with HP around managing shortages.

“I’m pushing the partners to work with us from an operational point of view in embracing a supply-constrained situation and that means we have to be more excellent in how we forecast, we need to be earlier, and how we engage customer, partner and HP needs to be faster and more forward-looking,” he said.

Over at Dell, Aongus Hegarty, president, international markets, said the firm had “weathered the storm better than most” and had worked with partners to understand customer needs and requirements.

“I think when you have high levels of demand, it takes time for suppliers to catch up,” he said. “One of the differentiations for us in Dell Technology, with our partners like Intel and many others, is the old set of capabilities and multiple ways in which we get our products to market, and also the ability to flex between locations, operations, and manufacturing-wise.

“It’s been challenging, and what’s been most important with our partners is understanding those customer needs and requirements, making sure we’ve got a good view of them forward planning.”

Hegarty echoed the views of the others in the market about the shortages continuing into 2022, but sounded a more optimistic note about the situation starting to ease.

“We’ll continue to see supply challenges, but I do believe that as we get into next year and maybe early next year, we should see continued improvements,” he said. “We’re certainly seeing improvements in some of our vehicles as well.”

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