Lenovo creates new unit to focus on customer needs

Lenovo has created a business unit to focus on better matching its products to customer needs and changing market conditions, the company said Monday.

Lenovo Group took the wraps off a new business unit Monday, aimed at helping the computer company keep a closer eye on how its operations meet the needs of customers.

Known as the Center of Excellence (COE), the unit is based in Singapore. Its staff's responsibilities include forecasting supply/demand patterns, setting pricing and developing sales and product strategies, as well as managing inventory and measuring the company's performance.

The COE's basic task is to bring Lenovo even more "in tune" with its customers around the world in terms of how the vendor designs, builds and sells its products, Lenovo Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President Bill Amelio, said in a statement. The company needs to respond more quickly to changes in the market and alter its manufacturing and supply chain capabilities accordingly, he added.

David Schmoock, 37, former vice president of marketing for rival vendor Dell's Asia-Pacific/Japan region, will head the COE unit and report to Amelio.

Schmoock joined Dell in 1997 and previously worked at Xerox. He's one of several Dell executives in Asia to move to Lenovo in recent months. The new presidents for Lenovo's Asia-Pacific and its Japanese operations also hail from Dell -- David Miller, former president of Dell China, and Sotaro Amano, ex-corporate director for Dell's Japan home and business sales, respectively. Lenovo CEO Amelio is himself a recruit from Dell leaving the company in December to join Lenovo after heading Dell's Asia-Pacific operations since 2001.

Lenovo became the third-largest global PC vendor behind Dell and Hewlett-Packard in May 2005 after closing its US$1.75 billion purchase of IBM's personal computing business.

Since then, Lenovo has struggled to integrate IBM's operations with its existing business and is still in the midst of restructuring the combined company. In March, Lenovo announced it would lay off 1,000 employees or around 5 percent of its work force and move its corporate headquarters from Purchase, New York, to Raleigh, North Carolina, where IBM's former ThinkPad group was located.

Lenovo executives have publicly blamed inefficiencies in the company's supply chain as one contributing cause to several disappointing fiscal quarters. The company is due to be formally removed from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange's Hang Seng share index come Sept. 11 as a result of its recent poor financial performance.

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