Lenovo is focusing 18 years of innovation of its ThinkPad notebook range on providing exceptional ease of information technology (IT) use for small and medium businesses (SMBs).
Since its inception in 1992, ThinkPad’s evolution has been marked by more than 1 000 industry awards acknowledging its pioneering role in on the move computing. ThinkPad was the first notebook to have a thin film transistor (tft) flat screen, to have a DVD ROM, a fingerprint reader, a security sub-system, and, this year, a dual screen workstation.
By October 2010, 60 million units had been sold worldwide.
“Innovation is the hallmark of the ThinkPad, but not for innovation’s sake,” says Lenovo director, Worldwide ThinkPad Product Marketing, Jerry Paradise, who visited South Africa at the end of November 2010. “We research our target markets very closely and our objective is to make using computers easier, more intuitive, and more productive for them.
“With ThinkPad, we’ve honed that objective into a particular focus on small businesses– companies with as few as 10 and as many as 100 users. We use all the combined benefits of the innovation that has gone into the ThinkPad to address the technology needs that are specific to these customers”.
Because SMBs rarely have in-house IT managers or full-time IT staff, they struggle to standardise on IT policies or execute crucial housekeeping disciplines such as back-up and software patches. The sophistication of users also varies hugely from one SMB to another.
“All of which creates business performance as well as security and disaster recovery challenges for the business,” Paradise says. “However, a great many of the best practice IT management issues can be addressed by building the required capabilities into the computers themselves. So, we’ve embedded into ThinkPad intelligence that automates most of the basic tasks – such as backups, updates, and remote data disablement – that are needed to maintain and manage the machines in relation to the data and systems with which they work.
“The ThinkPad also automates connectivity at work, at home, and in places like airports. And, the keyboard has been streamlined, eliminating all the keys that are used infrequently or not at all.
“So, an SMB can focus on running the business rather than its computers.”
As an SMB’s primary business tool, the ThinkPad spends a lot of time on the road and in challenging physical conditions. “For that reason, the notebook is designed to be robust and reliable as well as intelligent,” Paradise says. “Independence from maintenance and management staff also means physical independence in terms of the ability of the machine to withstand rough handling and not need much repair and support from hardware engineers. So, we test the ThinkPad with the same rigour as we apply to our much bigger machines – and we keep it simple and streamlined, in order to expose as little surface area as possible to mishaps.”
Paradise says that innovating with the ThinkPad will continue.
Within the emerging markets, SMBs represent a hypergrowth segment. According to IDC, the growth of PC sales in emerging markets over the next 4-5 years will be twice that of mature markets, with the emerging markets accounting for 70 percent of worldwide sales.
“In other words, as the influence of SMBs on the economy increases, so business models and SMB requirements of technology will change. Lenovo plans to be the facilitator of that progress,” says Paradise.