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By 30 March 2022 | Categories: feature articles

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Features sponsored by the Samsung Galaxy S22 series:

Lenovo and Microsoft recently joined forces in Sandton to quite fittingly, explore collaboration in a hybrid world. The event which was one of the few in-person events that are now starting up again, blended the virtual and IRL (in real life) formats.

Thibault Dousson, the GM of Lenovo began by stressing that technology needs to help people in their new transition from working from an office prior to the pandemic, into working from home during it, and now in the transition to a hybrid approach of both.

He continued that digital transformation has evolved into business transformation, with the mindsets of businesses now changing. Even as remote work is not going away, he stressed that hybrid workspaces are likely to become the new normal, based on intentional design.

Thibault Dousson, GM of Lenovo

The future is hybrid

The belief in hybrid work becoming part of the new normal was echoed by Microsoft. “It’s clear that hybrid work is here to stay – both in terms of the approach to work and the technology needed to accommodate this way of working. Business leaders need to place their people at the centre of their efforts and use technology as an enabler to enhance work culture, productivity and well-being to create a better future of work,” explained Colin Erasmus, Director of Modern Workplace and Security at Microsoft South Africa.

Erasmus also gave some rationale behind the hybrid work model, citing a survey in which 73% of respondents indicated that want remote work options, and love having greater flexibility, but at same time 67% expressed that they missed face-to-face collaboration and wanted more in-person work.

He explained that a new hybrid model entails three critical components – people, places and process. Organisations need to provide employees a great experience, regardless of where they sit, with the payoff being highly engaged employees. Not only does this result in a talented workforce that is more likely to stay at an organization, but, he noted, research has shown that companies with highly engaged employees are more likely to be profitable.

The second and third components, places and process, refer to work location, which has become decentralized, and people’s work hours, which can in most industries be considerably more flexible and offer employees better work-life balance.

Erasmus predicts that there will be a continued growth of hybrid working models with traditional offices transitioning to become more dynamic and collaborative business centres.

He noted that video conferencing and collaboration platforms are playing a critical role in helping employees stay productive, engaged, and connected wherever they are.

Colin Erasmus, Director of Modern Workplace and Security at Microsoft South Africa.

Tech for enabling collaboration

To enable this scenario, Lenovo debuted its Collaboration product suite comprising several business communication solutions that enable hybrid work environments. Given how the way teams work, collaborate, and make decisions have fundamentally changed, the company explained that its new Smart Collaboration portfolio of solutions enhance employee productivity and engagement regardless of their geographic location.

“Designing specific solutions to address different collaboration needs will drive real-world benefits. Organisations can cultivate a positive employee experience and enable flexible working, which helps to attract and retain talent while unleashing workforce creativity. The solutions themselves can include hardware, software, and services. The Lenovo Smart Collaboration ecosystem of solutions enable this by providing the platform essentially to fully migrate to a hybrid work environment,” explained Dousson.

The Lenovo Smart Collaboration offering consists of:

  • ThinkSmart View. This eight-inch HD IPS touchscreen device is built on the Microsoft Teams platform and handles videoconferencing, content viewing, and more. This collaborative smart device works from an individual’s workspace, tackling administrative tasks that waste a computer’s resources.
  • ThinkSmart Cam. An enterprise-grade artificial intelligence smart camera designed for video collaboration and is certified for Microsoft Teams and Zoom platforms. This high-resolution Web camera provides users with a wide field-of-view and supports features like auto-framing, auto-zoom, and whiteboard awareness.
  • ThinkSmart Bar. This premium soundbar features built-in beamforming microphones for an immersive audio experience in meeting rooms. It is purpose-built for meeting room-based video conferencing and can be paired with a computing device or used as a standard plug-and-play speaker.
  • ThinkSmart Manager. This software provides a single console with which companies can manage their entire ThinkSmart network of collaborative solutions. Whether it is remote deployments or configuring, protecting, and auto-updating software on each ThinkSmart device, the ThinkSmart Manager software enables this with ease.
  • ThinkSmart Hub. An all-in-one video conferencing room system configured with Microsoft Teams and Zoom software. This smart device provides meeting hosts with complete control over meetings from a centralised location.
  • ThinkSmart Tiny. A poly conference room solution that integrates with existing Poly solutions and bundled with the latest Poly controller. It provides a robust and intuitive compute platform for meeting and learning spaces designed to improve productivity and collaboration.
  • ThinkSmart Professional Services. An integrated environment providing the support companies require to facilitate hybrid work. This provides businesses with personalised and professional services that help them get the most out of their Lenovo ThinkSmart devices and technologies.

All these solutions support the Microsoft Windows 11 operating system and Microsoft AutoPilot technology. This is aimed at making deploying Windows and applications to devices a more user-friendly experience.

Lenovo ThinkSmart View, one component of its new collaboration suite.

Why collaboration is vital

The companies concluded by pointing out the importance of remote collaboration. Firstly, it has become a strategic imperative for businesses looking to remain competitive in the post-pandemic world.

According to research by Forrester, knowledge workers see value in sharing information, finding documents, meeting efficiently, and gathering ideas.

Another fact supporting born out by research is that by embracing collaboration platforms, companies can boost productivity by 10%, resulting in up to four hours saved per work week. This is significant given today’s competitive landscape.

“At Lenovo, we continue to look ahead and understand the importance in maintaining connections. At home or in redesigned meeting spaces, the Lenovo ThinkSmart product environment delivers intelligent solutions to meet the variety of conferencing needs. The right technology provides not just productivity, but personal connections so important to collective well-being. Our goal is to continue to innovate to bring people together,” concluded Dousson.

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