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Constant Change in Tech Puts Focus on Users

Amid constant and continuous change in the technology industry, relentless focus on customer needs is the key to success, according to Lenovo CEO Yuanqing Yang. 

With new technologies emerging on a daily, if not hourly basis, the IT industry needs to focus on solving customer pain points like never before.

"If a device manufacturer will not pay attention to this area (user experience), they will not win," Yang said at the AIC.

Demand for IT devices is steadily shifting toward smartphones and, potentially, wearable technology, leaving PCs and tablet growth to level off, said Yang, who heads the world's largest PC maker and third–largest smartphone maker.

"I believe PC (makers) will continue and accelerate consolidation" among Hewlett–Packard, Lenovo and Dell, which currently account for more than half of all PC sales. Smaller players lack the scale to compete in a market that isn't growing, Yang said.

Tablet growth is also flattening and smartphones have stabilized in mature markets, though emerging markets still have upside.

"I think there's a huge growth opportunity in emerging markets, where smartphones will be the first device for many people, if not the only device," Yang said.

Smartphones could play a major role in the growing, but potentially enormous Internet of Things – if they become the primary hub for controlling various interconnected appliances and devices. Still to be seen is whether wearable tech – smart watches and other gadgets – can play a similar role.

The rapid growth of devices means continuing demand for servers to support them all, with one server required for every 400 devices. "This is a growing market, especially in emerging markets," Yang said.

To better understand customer needs against this rapidly changing landscape, IT companies should look to social and mobile data, Yang said, citing data showing 71 percent of customers are making purchase decisions based on recommendations from social media.

That makes customer referrals essential, and supports an increased focus on individual customers.

"I have challenged my team to treat all customers as 'relationship' customers, not 'transactional' customers," Yang said.

That brings major changes to people's jobs, Yang said, noting that even he has taken to social media to better understand Lenovo customers.

"My 3 million followers on Weibo are brutally honest with me. They even have strong opinions about my hairstyle," Yang said.

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