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Innovation guides Lenovo’s vision for the future

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Kathy Gibson at Lenovo’s MEA Summit, Cape Town – Still a young company, Lenovo has had an interesting journey so far – and it’s not finished changing and adapting yet.
“The company has its roots in the PC industry, ” says Marc Godin, vice-president and GM of Lenovo MEA. “Since then we have expanded into new technologies and new markets.”
This move started with the acquisition of Motorola devices to form the mobile business group, and has more recently included the acquisition of the IBM X server business to form the Lenovo data centre group.
The Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group is the area less well known, Godin explains.
“It is our VCR,” he says. “We invest in startup companies dealing with new technologies. And we also speed up technologies coming from the Lenovo research teams.”
Overall, Lenovo is now a global corporation, operating across the world, serving customers in 160 counties.
“We have become a global IT company,” Godin says. “But we aspire also to be balanced and diversified.”
To this end, revenue is spread quite evenly across the geographies; and is more diversified in terms of technology and product offerings than in the past. The non-PC business is now about one-third of the business and growing fast.
Godin shares some highlights across the various business groups.
“In the last fiscal year we achieved record market share in the PC space, and have established a solid position in this market.
“We delivered the latest edition of our flagship product, the ThinkPad Xi Carbon — this is the lightest 14-inch business laptop in the industry.”
Four years ago, Lenovo created the multi-mode category with its Yoga PCs, and continues to innovate in this area, Godin says.
“We have also extended the Yoga franchise into the commercial space with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga.
“We are not only defining new categories, but continue to lead in these categories.”
Lenovo also challenges the status quo, Godin says. “Last year we introduced a product no-one had ever seen before — the Yoga Book, that redefines the tablet category.”
In the data centre space, Lenovo is also innovating, according to Godin.
“We have announced a complete new portfolio of products and solutions, including the ThinkAgile portfolio.
“This not an ordinary platform, it is a range of pre-configured an trusted solutions, ready to be deployed in an effective way.”
In the smartphone space, the company has launched new designs, Godin says.
“We introduced the combination of Moto Z and Moto Mods, allowing users to customise their phones by snapping accessories on.
“No-one had ever done this before, and we have reached about 3-million users in a year.”
The Moto G5 is also breaking sales records across the world, he adds.
“Looking into the future is always an interesting exercise,” Godin adds.
“Our vision is to lead in two fundamental areas: we want to be a leading provider of smart or smarter devices; and we aim to be a leading provider of future generations of data centre that ae more agile and more flexible to power users’ workloads.”
The strategy is what Lenovo calls the three-way strategy.
“This involves maintaining our leadership position in the PC space,” Godin says.
The key priorities in this area re to better understand customers; raise the bar on capabilities and efficiency; invest in high-growth segments; and capitalise on industry consolidation opportunities.
The second leg is to build the mobile and data centre groups into new growth areas.
In the data centre, cloud, big data/analytics and solutions are the key priorities.
Cloud involves working on private, hybrid and public models to offer on-demand delivery of resources and applications via the Internet.
Big data/analytics focuses on the data organisation have to analyse and define actionable business intelligence.
Solutions aims to accelerate deployment and reduce the time to value by deploying pre-tested infrastructure that is ready to run customer workloads.
“We are ready,” Godin says. “We are ready to support you, and to address these priorities.”
To fulfil the vision, Lenovo delivers performance, reliability and flexibility in the data centre infrastructure and cloud services.
A software-defined infrastructure makes sure a flexible system can respond to business demands.
“We are ready to help you tackle the most complex business problems by helping you define ultra-dense complex business infrastructures,” Godin says.
“We have dedicated teams ready to work with customer who are planning for the future and building massive data centre.”
The third leg of the strategy is about investing in smart devices and the cloud model.
“There is a lot of aspiration in this,” Godin says. “It is about inventing the future, inventing new devices to take advantage of cloud capabilities.”
There is a two-pronged approach that starts with already-known device and form factors.
“Our vision s that artificial intelligence coupled with cloud services will enable smarter devices that can understand how different each of us is, how differently we use our devices and the applications on it. And a smarter device should be able to adapt to provide a customised experience,” Godin explains.
“It should know not only its location, but its environment, and react differently. The critical points and the big difference of a smarter device, is to start making suggestions, to advise us, to guide us — and maybe to take action without us having to ask, because it is learning by how we use it.
“That is what we are working on.”
The second approach to this is about building a completely new generation of devices: devices that have never been seen before, that deliver new applications and services through new experiences.
“This is vague, but it is about the future.”
Lenovo grounds its vision of the future in the belief that the world is entering the fourth industrial revolution, Godin says.
“This new era is fuelled by powerful AI, coupled with almost infinite computing power provided by the cloud, accessible everywhere via ISP networks.
These technologies will fundamentally disrupt businesses, change societies, change the way we work, and change the way we live.
“We believe these technologies will enable smarter devices.
“We believe this revolution will require further advancement in data centre, even more agility and flexibility.
“We want to become leaders in this new world. we have a strategy that will guide us through that. We are putting in place the execution plans.
“But now, more than ever, at the core of the strategy is our belief that different is better,” Godin says. “This is the mindset that got us here, and will guide us into the future.
“It guides a different approach to how we do business, how we develop products, how we work with our customers.”