Digital transformation was last year’s buzzword; this year saw business transformation as the major theme – in the future intelligent transformation will be what defines forward-looking and successful companies.

The Lenovo Data Centre Group (DCG) is positioning itself to be the partner of choice in this new era, according to country GM Jim Holland.

“A new age is dawning,” he believes. “For big companies, the oncoming era will require new skill sets, technologies, alignments and business models. It will force them to globally reinvent and restructure entire systems of production, management and governance. It will require intelligent transformation.”

According to IDC, annual spending on digital transformation initiatives in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) region is predicted to surpass $38-billion by 2021 (R53,19-billion), accelerated by the large-scale adoption of third-platform technologies such as cloud, big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual/augmented reality and more.

“2019 will bring an evolution of change. Here are top trends for empowering intelligent transformation as well as how we think large organisations can put themselves in a position to thrive in the new landscape,” Holland says.

Holland joined Lenovo DCG just six months ago, but he’s already seen a number of major changes as the company brings new products and solutions to the market.

“For instance, we’ve launched a single-socket server in rack and tower mode that plugs what was a gap in our server lineup,” he says.

“Lenovo has traditionally been very strong in the 1U and 2U space, as well as in the high-performance market, but we’ve never had an offering in the single-socket space. The new offerings are really well priced and well-specced, and are going to help drive the volume business.”

Partnering is also opening up new opportunities for Lenovo. An OEM relationship with NetApp will see Lenovo driving new business into the storage and data management space, Holland adds.

Also in the burgeoning storage space, Lenovo has launched its new ThinkSystem DM and DE products, addressing 90% of the addressable market from entry-level to high-end.

Lenovo aligns closely with NetApp. The Lenovo DM and DE storage is based on NetApp’s platform, taken to market by Lenovo and supported by Lenovo.

Independent software vendor (ISV) deals include hyperconverged systems in partnership with Nutanix, Veeam, VMware and Microsoft among others.

“These are more than licensing deals: they are very close alliance partners,” Holland says. “They are symbiotic relationships in that we don’t compete with our partners – this is not co-opetition, it is real co-operation on every level.”

Lenovo also has a new exclusive worldwide agreement with cloud provider Cloudistics, offering the Lenovo ThinkAgile CP which facilitates a joint private cloud offering. “This further completes the full enterprise solution offered by Lenovo DCG.”

And Lenovo’s market share is growing. “We are seeing some big opportunities where customers are looking for relevant solutions,” Holland says.

This has resulted in double-digital growth, quarter on quarter and year on year along with improved market share and better local relevance with customers and channel partners.

A 100% channel-driven go-to-market means that Lenovo’s reseller partners are committed and loyal, Holland adds. “We need to be relevant to our partners, and they have to know they can trust us.”

Lenovo does still take responsibility for pre-sales activity in partnership with the reseller, and offer strong service and support back-up.

“We’ve got one of the best services operations in terms of response times and customer satisfaction,” he adds.


Smart IoT

One of the areas where Lenovo is driving change is in the Internet of Things, Holland says.

“These are complicated times for the enterprise. The feedback that we get from large customers who deploy our technology is this: the products must naturally be compelling, but the ecosystem into which they settle is everything.”

It’s no longer enough for tech companies to provide smartphones, laptops, servers, storage and networking products and then step aside, he points out. Their value comes in helping their customers pull it all together, in providing a holistic vision of a world that is not only connected but smart.

Smart IoT is where hardware offerings are combined with the vendor’s data and deeper learnings, Holland explains.


Artificial Intelligence (AI)

As voice, gesture and movement come to the fore, an era of ambient computing is set to emerge. This vision will be defined and enriched by advances in AI, speech recognition, machine learning and cloud computing.

In this environment, some aspects of the consumer’s connected life will go into the ether. But devices will still be important as we leverage new technologies to improve the lives of people.

Holland says a good example of a broader application is unified endpoint management (UEM) technology, which helps people manage networks from a single source.

“Lenovo’s interest in this runs deep, from helping companies ward off hackers to helping first responders react more quickly in crisis situations,” he says.

Another application is narrow AI, which enables computers to perform highly specialised tasks extremely well.

“One way Lenovo is using narrow AI is in healthcare,” Holland explains. “For instance, we created an AI solution that helps health professionals better detect liver tumors and increases general success rates for cancer diagnoses.”


5G and other emerging tech

5G connectivity is going to make a lot of the trends we’re seeing more scalable as it starts to revolutionise networks.

“5G download speeds will transform how people engage with the world overnight,” Holland says. “This breakthrough will help mainstream things like driverless cars, smart wearables, gaming, home security and industrial intelligence.”


AR and VR

If you think augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) are just for gamers, you’re missing the bigger story, Holland believes.

“Shrewd observers know that the effect these fast-developing technologies are having on business is nothing short of transformational.”

For example, Lenovo helped develop a technology solution for a Utah-based cancer clinic to help identify melanoma. The solution leverages AR head-mounted displays and AI glasses to better map mole progression.

AR is also transforming the aviation industry, he says. With Lenovo AR glasses, airplane mechanics can conduct training sessions remotely, giving step-by-step virtual guidance to less seasoned workers.

“For businesses to take advantage of these trends next year and the years after that, they will need to invest in infrastructure that is open yet secure, flexible, and delivers speed and reliability,” Holland says.

“Lenovo is helping to transform productivity and collaboration by setting the scene for helping people work smarter with innovative emerging technologies. The company’s ongoing Intelligent Transformation strategy reflects Lenovo’s unique business perspective on how to build end-to-end solutions with smart features that transform businesses and improve the user experience.”

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