Lenovo: Partners in productivity
“We had to move very quickly when COVID-19 struck,” says Rob Makin.
Makin, who has spent the past 25 years leading IT sales and business teams across Europe and APAC, is closing in on six years at Lenovo. There he heads up the worldwide Device as a Service (DaaS) business, helping companies adapt their IT infrastructure to empower employees and move away from the outmoded CapEx model.
His team has been busy the past 12 months guiding businesses through the complex process of switching to a remote workforce, dispersed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But while the coronavirus outbreak forced the hand of some, Lenovo DaaS has been helping business shift to more flexible device management for years.
“This basically entails us managing the full life cycle of their devices,” Makin explains, likening it to a “mobile phone experience” where onboarding and updates require little input on the part of the end user. Lenovo handles distribution of devices - in the office or, more frequently these days, at home - remotely testing, loading software and preferences, and managing any issues or updates along the way. At the end of the chosen contract period, Lenovo collects the device, closing the loop.
“From a productivity point, it’s a huge advantage; from an experience point, it’s a huge advantage, particularly when we are working from home and don’t have that IT specialist to go to,” Makin explains. Overhauling legacy IT systems “can take months or years, but it's when we have a partnership approach with our customers that it works best,” he says.
Lenovo has a close partnership with financial services leader Wesleyan. “We’re very proud of our relationship at Wesleyan. It’s very much a cohesive team, which makes the support of their workplace environment a simple thing. We also deliver predictability of cost, something that was important before the pandemic and now even more vital for organisations.”
Lenovo DaaS ensures stability in user experience and cost-age at Wesleyan, but Makin says the two firms are collaborating on further transformations to continue this momentum into the post-COVID market.
“We are talking to Wesleyan about how we can implement Lenovo Device Intelligence, our predictive and proactive analytics, across their devices,” Makin says. “This means rather than a device having errors or faults, whether it be software or hardware, we want to be able to predict when it's going to have an issue.”
The analytics platform will also help Lenovo “define the personas of their individuals” to ensure every professional within an organisation has the right device and resources to remain productive and able to perform for “the best output” wherever they are.
This flexibility will be key to the future success of businesses, says Makin, who believes that in our current climate, the companies that have moved to a more Modern IT structure “have potentially done better than the organisations that weren't able to move”.
“And that's certainly what we at Lenovo DaaS believe in; what we are developing and expanding to is to really look at Modern IT low-touch as a service. We want to really accelerate and support enterprises and the businesses moving forward as we come out of the pandemic.”
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”