MORRISVILLELenovo‘s recent growth revenue isn’t the only news coming out of the tech giant. One of the world’s largest PC companies also recently announced a new chief digital officer – Paul J. Walsh.

In his role, Walsh will be in charge of leading digital transformation, helping the company “harness the disruptive technologies fueling Intelligent Transformation that will shape [its] customer experience for the next decade.”

Intelligent Transformation is a term often used by Chair and CEO Yang Yuanqing to describe Lenovo’s strategy for future growth.

Prior to Lenovo, Paul served as senior vice president for Visa’s Platform Strategy & Innovation, leading the company’s transformation to an open platform initiative. He also served as the global chief information officer at Dell.

Walsh recently chatted with WRAL TechWire about his vision for Lenovo, and the age of “Intelligent Transformation” where companies figure out how to best leverage big data and advanced analytics to re-engineer business models. The company has dual headquarters in Morrisville and Beijing.

  • Tell us a little about yourself, and how you got here.

I started in the technology space more than 20 years ago before the phrase digital transformation became popular. In that time, I’ve had the great fortune to work with some very talented people to deliver extremely impactful technology-related solutions at respected tech brands, including Lenovo, Visa, Dell, Amazon, and Microsoft. Throughout my career, I’ve always focused on how digital transformation can deliver business value in four ways: by enriching the customer experience, improving product reliability, lowering the cost of doing business and reducing risk, and also helping operations perform better.

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  • You’ve just been named Lenovo’s chief digital officer in charge of the company’s digital transformation. What are some of the top things on your to-do list?

My goal is simple – to help Lenovo lead Intelligent Transformation by accelerating its digital transformation across the business.

  1. Given buying journeys are now non-linear, we’re focused on making customers’ journey seamless for customers and sellers.
  2. As technology has democratized access to information and consumers have changed their expectations for brands, we’re investing more in digital and social to continue strengthening the Lenovo brand.
  3. While customers want a simple and efficient buying experience, they also want a more personal, customized one, so we’re enabling a holistic view of our customers as they interact across all the touchpoints on their journey.
  • How is your space changing? And what are some of the big things to look out for?

Across industries, organizations are facing increasing disruption as technology and agility are being used to create a new age of ease and accessibility for customers (internal or external). We’re entering an era of increased financial inclusion, cognitive commerce, and predictive healthcare. Today’s customers are increasingly expecting new levels of convenience with our brands and within their workplaces to make their lives easier.

Advancements in technologies such as social, mobile, data, cloud technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and blockchain, just to name a few, are converging to anticipate and automatically fulfill customers preferences. Throughout all industries there is a slew of non-traditional players injecting new ideas and technologies into the ecosystem.

Think about all of the ways you engage with brands these days that weren’t possible just a few short years ago. Most people rarely set foot in a bank, but instead use apps to deposit checks, transfer funds, and pay bills. Passengers can completely bypass the check-in desk at the airport by utilizing mobile boarding passes and hotel guests can now have a room key sent to their devices on their arrival. Patients are benefiting from data drive experiences used to help improve health outcomes and lower costs.

Even though these advancements and many others have increased customer loyalty by letting the customer engage on their terms, there still remains far too much friction in customers’ experiences. Think about all the ways your “customers” interact with “your” brand today, now think about all the ways they could interact, “that gap,” if not addressed will turn your “loyal” customers today your “former” customers tomorrow.

The good news, is that many of us are on this journey. In fact, continuous small tweaks and changes, not monolithic overhauls of the customer journey are all it takes to enable these new levels of convenience. We must identify these opportunities every day so we’re making interactions with our customers and partners easier and more intuitive.

  • Is Lenovo launching any new products? If so, what should we be getting excited about?

Absolutely. You’ll see our devices get smarter and smarter across the year as we drive Intelligent Transformation. At the Consumer Electronics Show, we announced our Lenovo Smart Clock with the Google Assistant. It supports voice and touch controls on a 4-inch IPS screen to let you dim the lights, display calendar events with just a single command, play music or work with Chromecast to stream shows and music on your TV or speakers with just your voice. You can even set the Lenovo Smart Clock when you wake up to automatically turn on your coffee maker in the kitchen or heater in the living room or check your front door security camera and the kids’ room from your bed. It connects with every smart device in your home.

We also announced the Yoga S940 ultra-slim Windows® 10 laptop that features Lenovo Smart Assist AI-enabled features. Leveraging AI, this includes the option to automatically filter out most ambient noise and blur out distracting backgrounds during video calls. When you turn your head away from your laptop screen, the Yoga S940’s AI-powered sensors can detect your absence and auto-lock the display to protect your data from others seeing it. It can also detect and alert you when a nosey neighbor is shoulder surfing from your screen, or help increase productivity by shifting open windows and content contextually to a connected external monitor, based on your attention, intent and focus.

  • What’s your ultimate vision for Lenovo?

We’re living in an unprecedented time. The fourth industrial revolution has taken hold, driven by technology. This new tech disrupted the status quo, created powerful, new innovations, and democratized access, leading to hyperadoption. As a result, today’s empowered customers expect more from brands. They want personalized conversations and experiences at the right time – thus, the customer journey has become more complex. Lenovo has always focused on customers in product design and development, but now my job is to accelerate the transformation across all aspects of the customer journey. That means deep insight to really understand the customer at the individual level and being predictive for what customers need.

It doesn’t stop there. The entire customer experience involves the channels and processes we use to sell products to the data, operating models, and culture that shape how we operate. This involves ensuring we have the right MarTech systems and tools and sales and services systems. The customer experience touches every aspect of our business.

An integral part of our strategy is to provide systems that create ‘always-on’ resilience, adaptive to speed the customer, with an aptitude to predict business and customer demands. We must use insights with technology to deliver fulfilling experiences to our customers, to make it easy for our sellers to do their jobs and to use what we learn about our customers to be one of their favored brands along their lifetime journey.

Organizations must evolve the way we work to embrace systems that learn and create value versus process that is manual and expensive.  We must continuously evolve the way we choose or deliver technology to find patterns, prioritize knowledge transfer, breaking down boundaries, making technology invisible, creating global connection, and ultimately re-invent and simplify.

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