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Getting it right at the top – the Lenovo way

Nerve-systems, integration and mobile – the three words find their way in conversations with Ajit Sivadasan, Vice President and General Manager at Lenovo Corporation, quite frequently. This is not surprising when Mr Sivadasan’s mandate requires him to be on top of the digital offer and the digital presence of the Chinese technology company, which is amongst the few Chinese brands that have resonated at a global level.
For a while now, Lenovo has depended on a hub approach, which has been native to the company in various aspects. This also implies that the company must master the ability of planning at the centre and executing at local levels. While the five Lenovo hubs that have been established since 2007-08 are largely web hubs, Singapore became important for the company as it housed the social media practice in 2010 and was recently expanded to also include analytics and big data.
The hub structure
The challenge of the hub-to-local approach is to maintain a consistency in standards across markets. For Mr Sivadasan, the crucial element here is to “get it right at the top”. In a conversation with DMA, he remarked, “The central thinking can be interpreted in different ways. Our endeavour, from a marketing standpoint, is to get the principles and tenets correct at the top, and there is a counsel i place for that. The plan can change on how a campaign, say a product launch, should be approached, which markets will the marketing activities take place and so on. But once you are coordinated and convinced at the top, then it becomes simpler to execute the plan in different markets.”
The hub approach for the Singapore office is defined as the nerve system for practices such as social media. The Singapore team focuses on three legs – social media, web design & development and analytics & big data. The way the system works for the company is to empower a central team that not only rolls out the broad strategy across the various markets but also chalks out the regional plan including regional people that would be plugged in, nature of social messaging, company’s response to people who have reasons to interact with Lenovo and finally how to amplify the message so it can travel across the network.
Digital spends powered by social and mobile
The most important aspect here is how to measure such marketing initiative. And Lenovo has many ways to do that such as the live broadcast across all social platforms, gauging the engagement level, the tone and comparison – all of which is executed in real time basis so that there is no ambiguity on how the deployed media dollar is being used.
Without divulging details, Mr Sivadasan informed that the spends in digital marketing, especially with the combination of mobile, is “in the right direction”. He observed, “If you ask anyone about social media spends, they will tell you that they don’t have enough money and generally that is true. That being said, the percentage spending on digital that includes some of the new social activities, coupled with mobile, will see significant amount of dollars flowing in.”
The other dimension that comes in play here is analytics. “With the granularity in data available today, such as from retail point of sale, one can see immediate cause and effect. This is only going to accelerate and essentially be far more effective. Our digital marketing efforts may show that reach is great, the quality of engagement is good but the key is how to take all that into tangible results such as sales and leads,” added Mr Sivadasan.
Steps in the digital brand journey
One of the first big digital steps in Lenovo’s brand journey is Lenovo.com. The platform has grown from 300 million visitors to 1.5 billion people globally. In the last five years, the brand has moved up courtesy the digital push. The site, designed to be ‘always on’, evolved with the brand with simplicity at its core. “We also looked at the brand element of Lenovo.com. In Lenovo’s journey of moving from a traditional PC company to becoming a PC plus strategy and technology company, the brand was crucial as was conveying the brand sentiment,” Mr Sivadasan explained.
He elaborated that the mobile optimisation of the site was the next step and the company has already rolled out a responsive design mobile website in Australia. As the site is being piloted in Australia, the target is to roll out the new mobile site to other markets in the next seven to eight weeks.
Some of the other steps that Lenovo will take in the year ahead will also come on the back of the insights from big data. “It is true that there is significant hype around big data and making sense of the structured and unstructured data is still a task. We are trying to build an infrastructure around this to solve problems. We have been at it for a while and we have done some interesting pilots. The payout is positive so far and the next step is to bring about solutions that benefit the company globally,” Mr Sivadasan said.
Finally, one of the biggest points in Lenovo’s 2014 marketing agenda is to execute an all-digital, all-social brand campaign. From all aspects, 2014 will mark a strong year in Lenovo’s digital journey and the brand is gearing up for all challenges, and opportunities, that lie ahead.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.