Digital transformation takes many forms. Nearly every company wants to maximize the value of its data, but each has specific goals in mind. When IT vendors discuss transformation, however, their story often sounds the same: “Build from the data center out.”
While that approach is valuable, for a variety of industries, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the edge are the real keys to maximizing an organization’s digital future. IoT can no longer be ignored. According to recent ESG research, 36% of IT organizations indicated that they have IoT initiatives already underway.
For vendors, however, taming the edge requires a different strategy than what the data center or even the cloud requires. The edge is a vastly more diverse landscape, and the ideal edge ecosystem can appear radically dissimilar across industries. For example, the ideal digital hospital looks very different from the ideal smart factory, which looks very different from the ideal smart city. IoT is a massive opportunity, but it is difficult for any one vendor to unlock.
This brings me to Lenovo Accelerate. Lenovo had made remarkable strides in recent years achieving strong growth in its data center businesses, built on impressive claims including being #1 in X86 server customer satisfaction and reliability. Lenovo’s recent success is indeed impressive, especially when considering the formidable competition in the data center. The most interesting storyline that I took away from the event, however, was the opportunity that Lenovo has at the edge with IoT.
Why Can Lenovo Win in the Edge?
IoT is poised for massive growth as more businesses transform digitally. Winning here will require a different approach, and Lenovo is already making some of the right moves.
- Lenovo is extending its data center expertise to the edge. Achieving the right blend of reliability, capability, and cost requires established development practices and economies of scale forged in the data center. Lenovo’s newly announced ThinkCenter M90n Nano and Nano IoT, along with the previously announced ThinkSystem SE350 edge server serve as excellent illustrations of the level of innovation required. They are designed to offer the density and durability for extreme edge environments while still delivering powerful, cost-effective compute.
- Lenovo is building a portfolio of “things.” Despite the increased focus by IT vendors, IoT buying decisions are often driven by the “T” in IoT. With its ThinkIoT portfolio, including the newly unveiled ThinkReality AR headset, Lenovo is establishing a real presence here. While just having that presence is important, the real opportunity is for Lenovo to optimize its devices with its edge compute and data center portfolios, simplifying the lives of its customers and partners.
- Lenovo is building out its channel presence. As mentioned, IoT is not a single market landscape; it is an amalgamation of thousands of individual and diverse segments. It is unlikely that any one IT vendor could address a significant number of these segments effectively without tight integration with the channel partners and system integrators that possess established expertise. Lenovo’s Channel First program will go a long way toward helping the company foster and cultivate the right partner relationships.
These moves position Lenovo to capture the opportunity presented by IoT and the edge, but there are multiple questions that still need to be answered. Building a successful and repeatable business centered on supporting the edge will require rapid responsiveness to a multitude of changing customer and partner requirements as well as incredible execution to deliver the myriad of required individual solutions.
Success will not just be measured by deals won, but also by the ability to establish leadership as organizations’ demands evolve. This task is incredibly daunting to say the least, but the pieces are falling into place for Lenovo. The only question left is whether the technology vendor can put them together.