Looking To Take the Next Step, Lenovo Blurs Lines Between Consumer And Commercial Devices


CRN: What are those needs from a big picture perspective? Are we talking more about things like performance, customization and security?

Parker: Not just those things. Android tablets are great devices for, in some cases, point-of-sale applications. I've heard of them being used for everything from insurance claims to a replacement for magazines in a dentist's office, and just about everything in between. So those are some of the applications we're seeing for Android. When you move over to Windows 8, it's more appropriate for enterprises that need a true computing device in a secure environment and can be managed remotely. So they're more comfortable with a traditional operating system. Enterprises are evaluating Windows 8 and in some cases they're making the move. But I'd say we're still very early in that adoption curve.

CRN: Lenovo just introduced an Android-based desktop for the consumer market, but is that something that may have potential for the commercial market?

Parker: I think it will get people thinking. Part of the challenge of innovating new products is we don't know exactly all of the uses that customers will come up with. We clearly see it as a supplemental PC in the home for things like video streaming, Web surfing, and things like that. Could it be utilized in a business environment? Yeah, probably. I don't think we have a clear idea of what that would be yet, but we're always looking out for those kinds of opportunities. And here's something else that you might find interesting: Over the last six months, we've actually opened up the distribution of some of our consumer products -- including both Windows and Android products -- into commercial distribution. And that's because we've started to see business have a demand for those devices, and they have reasons for why those consumer products make sense for them over traditional ThinkPads, for example. Historically, we've kept the two businesses very separate from a route-to-market perspective. But we've started to blend that in recognition that the worlds are crossing over and we need to be adaptive to that.

CRN: Why do you think that is? What's driving the blending of consumer devices in the enterprise?

Parker: I think there are a couple of things. First, if you go back 10 years, the end user in the business environment had zero power. They were handed a laptop and if they didn't like it? Tough. That's just the way it was. And that laptop was going to be a basic, black, square -- like an old ThinkPad. And over the last 10 years, the IT department has lost some of the power, and that power has transitioned to some of the business departments like marketing and sales and engineering. And they have very specific preferences. So often the design of the consumer devices appeals to them more. Sometimes they're buying those devices with their own money as part of the bring-your-own-device trend. Ten years ago the IT departments would have said no way and refused to support those devices. But today the end users and the individual business departments have a little bit more power, and now they're having a meeting of the minds with their IT departments to see what's possible.

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