March Business News sponsored by:
By Thibault Dousson, General Manager, Lenovo South Africa & SADC
The use of technology in modern life is evolving at an ever-increasing pace, and South Africa is catching up. Late last year, Google’s 2017 Connected Consumer Study revealed that 60 percent of South Africans now use a smartphone. In 2014, this number was just 47 percent.
This evolution is presenting new possibilities, pushing new behaviours, and expanding what we all expect from technology. Yet, in the midst of accelerating technological change, we are also seeing users tend towards solutions that simplify and streamline. In this respect, technological advances are enabling computing experiences to become better integrated into our lives.
Technology is now all around us, embedded in multiple and varied devices, and it makes us feel engaged and productive. It constantly presents us with new opportunities while adjusting our user behaviour in sometimes new and unexpected ways. Take for example how we stream content to a multitude of screens, or use smartphones to organise our lives and communicate via text and video with colleagues, friends, and family across a variety of apps. It is not surprising, then, that Google’s 2017 study also revealed that the number of connected devices per person in South Africa is 1.4, up from 0.8 just three years ago.
But how do we ensure that persistent “newness” and competition for our attention doesn’t come at a cost, distracting and removing us from living in the moment? As we explore how computing will evolve, we must re-set our focus on what matters most.
Lenovo’s global user experience team looks two to three years ahead, exploring the intersection of design and technology to help map the direction our organisation will take. The context here is the predicted desires and needs of consumers and the workforce, with the customer experience in ever-present focus.
Through research and speaking with countless customers, we learned three things people value most when it comes to the technology they use: time, comfort, and connection. These are the elements that will drive personalised computing for Lenovo and our customers as technology continues to intelligently transform our lives.
We know the proliferation of digital devices is immense, and we know that trends such as livestreaming and the use of digital assistants are likely to grow. People tend to construct their own relationship with technology, using it in unique ways, often self-identifying via their device choices. And they place a premium on their ability to save time, connect with others, and enjoy the freedom to comfortably use their devices anywhere.
Time is our most precious resource. Users clearly want to get the most out of their interaction with technology – streamlining tasks wherever possible, saving time, and making the most of each moment. I speak to customers who use apps like Waze to check the traffic up ahead on their chosen route, or who add items to an online groceries app rather than write them down or try and remember them later. Capturing ideas in the moment is a great example of how people are using technology to get more done in shorter time frames. PCs that are always on and ready to go with easy access to digital assistants and stronger collaboration solutions are going to change the way we streamline our tasks at hand.
The dominant device today is the smartphone, often with a laptop and/or a tablet to go with it. So, we know with confidence that people are increasingly looking for portable technology – lightweight devices that provide the freedom and comfort to move around with ease. It’s interesting to see how and where user trends develop. For example, in China, the social media platform WeChat has huge numbers of users and this led to users there adopting large smartphone screens ahead of the west. What followed globally of course were bigger screens, still with comfort and freedom top of mind. At Lenovo, we’re also looking ahead at bendable and foldable form factors and on-screen experiences to help people to do more of the things they want in new and more comfortable ways.
Lastly, our research tells us people are looking for better quality and more enjoyable (and therefore more meaningful) connections via technology between friends, family, colleagues, customers, and partners. This is truly universal and something our business is focused on with our product development. Lenovo asks – how can we make your device experience more immediate when it comes to, for example, staying in close touch with friends and family overseas? And how do you drive a better human, collaborative experience overall in the office so that remote meetings that start on time and are not plagued by technical difficulties? We see a big opportunity at the intersection of personal and communal computing, creating better shared experiences to help families and friends stay closer, and to help distributed business teams collaborate more effectively.
Technology for technology’s sake should never be the goal. With time, comfort, and connection as the guiding principles and metrics in mind, we’re better placed to solve problems and create enhanced experiences. These are the issues that matter most to people, and what we believe will drive personalised computing over the next couple of years.