Dressed in tan slacks, a shirt without a tie and wearing a sports jacket, “YY” sounded and looked more like a coach in college basketball’s “Final 4” rather than the chairman and chief executive officer of a global technology company.
While not flailing his arms or yelling at a referee, the man known as the “Bill Gates of China” and recently listed as one of the world’s top CEOs by Barron’s made clear his goal in a booming voice:
Lenovo will be No. 1 in a new era of technology where PCs share dominance with smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and more.
“We have been preparing for this for years – to win the PC-Plus era,” Yang Yuanqing declared.
Praising and challenging his “team” of some 3,000 employees who were gathered at company expense from across North and South America for the company’s annual fiscal year ‘kickoff event” in Raleigh on Tuesday, he spelled out a demanding agenda for turning the world’s No. 2 PC maker into the global leader in Internet connected and mobile devices.
“Innovation is even more crucial,” Yang told the crowd, many of whom wore Lenovo T-shirts emblazoned with “Do” and plus signs.
The “Do” picks up off Lenovo’s “For people who do” marketing slogan.
The plus signs are linked to Yang’s big vision – what he calls the “PC Plus” era.
Other words could have been added – especially speed and innovation.
Through innovation, Lenovo can seize the high ground and win new markets, Yang exhorted.
“The best advantage,” he stressed, “is NO competition.”
New products will continue to be launched at a rapid rate, and at the same time the recently reorganized company will rely on that structure to speed up delivery, improve service and win customers’ hearts globally, Yang preached.
“We need a sense of urgency in existing markets and in new ones,” he preached.
“Innovation requires BOLD thinking from EVERYONE and in EVERYTHING we do.”
As PC sales sag globally even while Lenovo continues to draw ever closer to HP, tablet sales are booming thanks to Apple’s iPads and Android models. Then there is the smartphone market where Apple’s iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxies as well as other models dominate. Lenov is emerging in both sectors, now ranking No. 2 in smartphone sales in the world’s biggest market (China). And research firm IDC ranks Lenovo third in “smart connected devices.” Lenovo’s revenues and profits are at record levels, but Yang wants more.
Yang also said Lenovo, which maintains its global executive headquarters in Morrisville, cannot – and will not – turn its back on PCs to search for more sales elsewhere.
“So team, in the coming year we must weather through the storm,” he said of the turbulence which he conceded is shaking the PC world which has come faster and in greater disruptive force than anyone forecast. “At the same time, PCs are still our bread and butter.
“I expect us to maintain our growth in sales, in shipments and in profits.”
After finishing his remarks, Yang smiled as Gina Qiao, head of human resources for Lenovo, noted that “YY” had used the term PC Plus 28 times and innovation “more than 20.”
The crowd seemed to listen closely to Yang, often erupting in applause. A host of other Lenovo executives also spoke, delivering a similar mix of praise for recent results with challenges for improved performances and allusions to new products as well as aggressive growth targets.
Yang, who returned as Lenovo’s CEO in 2009 and took over as chairman in 2011, has guided Lenovo through major transitions in the past. He helped lead Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s PC business in 2005, developed the still-maintained “Protect and Attack” strategy (protect China, its biggest market, attack others) after the financial crisis on 2008 triggered a host of changes and cutbacks, and now the current transition to a more diversified global entity with operations around the globe facing new challenges, new rivals.
“We face a world that is changing quickly,” he warned.
“Team, do we have the right strategy?”
“Yes,” the employees responded – very heartily.
Watch out, world.
[LENOVO ARCHIVE: Check out eight years of Lenovo stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire.]