Computer users who own a Lenovo convertible computer can choose to use the machine either as a laptop or a tablet depending on preference. Taking a page from the analytics endeavors of software company SAS, Lenovo is now tracking and analyzing those preferences among others to better understand customers.

“To really become an Apple or a Samsung in terms of their understanding of the consumer, that’s the goal,” Anthony Volpe, chief corporate analytics officer at Lenovo said.

Volpe’s comments came during SAS’ media day at the software company’s Cary headquarters on Tuesday. Lenovo is a SAS customer and Volpe is very familiar with the company, having come to Lenovo from SAS just months ago. In his new role, Volpe oversees the analytics strategy for Lenovo.

Retailers and financial services are the leading industries for collecting data and analyzing it for some business advantage. But analytics is now finding broader use across a wider range of industries, said Sarah Gates, vice president of research for the International Institute for Analytics. For example, Redbox, whose trademark red DVD rental kiosks are found outside of many grocery stores, gas stations and fast food restaurants, now employs analytics to figure out which discs to stock in which machines. Hospitals use analytics to find ways to help people get healthy. Analytics is not just way to figure out how to make more money, Gates said. It’s a way for businesses to do what they already do in a better way.

“We’re really starting to see co. across industries changing how they’re functioning based on the data that they have,” Gates said.

Lenovo is now among those large companies that is trying to glean additional business insights through analytics. The company, which operates dual headquarters in Beijing and Morrisville, this year became the world’s no. 1 manufacturer of personal computers. Lenovo is also a leader in smartphone manufacturing, taking the no. 4 spot largely because of the company’s strong penetration of China’s market. Lenovo’s “PC plus” strategy aims to add servers, mobile devices and other offerings on top of Lenovo’s foundation PC business.

Many companies are turning to analytics to wring inefficiencies from manufacturing and supply chains. Lenovo does, too. But Volpe said that’s not what will drive Lenovo’s growth. Market penetration and sales growth will come from understanding customers better, he said.

Lenovo is studying device usage data – the company can pull data from a device showing how the device has been used. Lenovo can learn, for example, how often a convertible has been used as a tablet versus a laptop, which apps have been used and at what time of day. Lenovo could even learn which member of a family used a device. Analyzing that data helps Lenovo understand customers and what products and services they want or need.

Lenovo does not gather this customer data without consumers’ knowledge. Users must opt into data collection. The company, which operates in 160 countries, must also abide by privacy laws and best practices in each of its markets. Volpe declined to identify the markets where Lenovo is collecting data. But he said analysis of that data should help the company grow in all markets. In Asia, Lenovo is already established as a consumer brand. But in the United States and some other regions, the company is still perceived mainly as business vendor.

“There are so many opportunities to take what’s working there (in China), supercharge it with analytics, and deliver it across the world,” Volpe said.