Lenovo chief happy to work with asset managers

Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of the world’s largest PC maker, tells a forum he sees vertical collaboration at the heart of improving customers’ user experience in the future.
Lenovo chief happy to work with asset managers

The head of the world’s largest personal computer-maker has said he is happy to work with asset management companies as part of improving customers’ user experience.

Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, told the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference yesterday that tech firms which did not pay attention to the user experience would lose out to peers that did.

Delivering a keynote address entitled ‘A vision for the future of technology – new trends for a new era’, Yang identified the rise of social mobile internet and the “experience is king” concept as the two key trends that would fundamentally impact the tech industry in the future.

“The social mobile internet has created a new type of consumer,” he told the forum. “They want more than just a device, they want to buy an experience. Already more than 40% of consumers put ‘user experience’ top in their purchasing decisions. That experience must be integrated end-to-end.”

Yang had earlier discussed how he was seeing greater collaboration between device providers and service providers. “Companies must be creative in collaborating across the value chain in order to win,” he stated.

Asked by AsianInvestor whether Lenovo saw a future in collaborating with asset managers in the provision of financial services, Wong Wai Ming, executive vice-president and CFO who shared the stage with Yang in a Q&A session, said the firm very much saw its future growth tied to such vertical collaborations.

“We are happy to work with any industry that directly helps players in the [tech] industry provide a better service for customers,” Wong said, later citing the medical industry as an example.

“Whether customers are consumer-related or high-net-worth individuals, our objective is to make sure they have a device and are able to connect with you to make a decision, whether that is to buy stocks, funds or whatever investment fits their risk profile.

“We are very happy to provide a device that works vertically to provide the best user experience to customers.”

Yang had opened his address by saying the one word he would use to sum up the tech industry, where he has spent the past 30 years, would be “change”, making reference to evolving technology and disruptive business models.

He forecast further consolidation in the world of PC makers, where the top three manufacturers already account for 53% of the market.

He opined that tablet computers would not completely replace PCs but would mainly be used for media consumption at home and not be replaced often. “After a few years of rapid growth, the tablet market is flattening now,” he commented.

Repeatedly Yang pointed to emerging markets for future growth opportunities, in particular for smartphones, which he noted would be changed more frequently.

“The competition will likely remain fierce, particularly in China and emerging markets because of imperfect IP [intellectual property] protection and the number of local players,” he said.

Yang argued that smartphones would likely become a hub for people to link everything together and centralise control, with innovation a constant.

He posed the question of whether wearable technology had the potential to become the new smartphone – in other words, an item that consumers replaced frequently. However, he leaned towards them buying it once and not replacing it.

Yang also talked about the power of social mobile internet, which he said was about regular expansion of affordable, high-quality wireless connectivity.

He suggested that by next year wireless and mobile devices would account for the majority of internet traffic worldwide, much of it in emerging markets.

“This creates what we call social mobile internet,” he explained. “The key part is ‘social’, as customers are able to exchange information online with companies as well as other consumers.”

He cited studies showing how consumers were now much more likely to make purchases based on recommendations from social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Weibo and WeChat.

“Companies that make an effort to hear these customers on social media and act quickly on their feedback will have a huge advantage,” Yang said, adding that Lenovo had 1,000 engineers to cater to 300,000 users every day, with an average of 3,000 ideas for product improvement posted daily.

He added he had challenged his workforce to treat all customers on a relationship basis (as opposed to commercial), noting he had opened his personal Twitter, LinkedIn and Weibo accounts to interact with Lenovo customers and social media users.

“What I learned was my three million followers on Weibo were brutally honest with me. They even had strong opinions about my hairstyle,” he quipped. “This [social media strategy] is truly a new challenge for a company of our size, but the rewards are real.”

He forecast that by 2017 some 50% of consumer product investment across the hi-tech industry would be subject to user experience innovation, saying only companies that truly understood users’ needs and found solutions would be winners.

“Those companies that can proactively evolve and adapt will thrive and win,” Yang said.

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