In this episode of the IoT For All Podcast, John Gordon, President of the Commercial IoT business unit at Lenovo, joins us to talk about IoT’s role in the new normal – specifically, in enabling employees to safely return to work.
John joined Lenovo in 2019 and is responsible for driving innovation across the company as a whole. He has more than 20 years of experience in strategic digital transformation and, as the former head of Consumer Electronics at Bose Corporation, he launched the world’s first audio augmented reality platform.
John joined Lenovo in order to play a role in maximizing the potential of IoT, but said part of what made his role at Lenovo so attractive was the dedication to creating real-world solutions today, instead of getting stuck on what IoT can be. “Frankly,” John said, “we’re probably deployed at one percent of what IoT’s potential really is.”
Lenovo takes a different approach to creating solutions in the IoT space. Rather than building custom solutions, Lenovo empowers companies to scale using existing components and solutions. “If you get it from Lenovo, the whole thing is turnkey – we validate the whole thing, we install it for you, and we monitor it to make sure it’s working. You don’t have to go through and piece stuff together yourself,” John said.
John said that, before COVID, their focus was on optimizing the number of people that companies could get into a workspace. But now, the challenge is bringing people back in safely. John said that, as technologists, their role was creating a framework that would enable companies to improve the safety for returning employees.
Phase 1 – How do you control who gets into the building? John said that this could mean measuring and monitoring the temperatures of people entering the workspace or ensuring that the space remains at a safe capacity.
Phase 2 – How do you manage behavior once they’re in the space? That could mean encouraging employees to maintain safe social distancing practices and wash their hands.
Phase 3 – When there’s an incident, how do you respond?
“No one was planning to do this,” John said, “the timing of when all of this stuff happens, it has to happen pretty quickly.”
John also spoke to the ROI companies hope to achieve through the use of these solutions. For some, the ROI is pretty clear – many manufacturers can’t operate without people in the building. So anything that gets them up and running again is going to be worth the investment.
But for other companies, they can save on cost and improve the morale of their employees by automating processes that previously required employees’ dedicated attention. Jobs like standing at the door of a retail store and counting the people going in and out or security guards who monitor spaces to ensure that employees are far enough apart. “That’s the kind of crappy job that has to be done,” John said, “but is perfect for technology.”
Changing gears, John spoke to us about a survey that Lenovo conducted on the return to work for many employees in North America. One of the key findings was that 88 percent of employees expected employers to make the workplace safe using technology.
John spoke to the opportunity that this meant for IoT. “This is our opportunity to help our colleagues, our customers, and our families make the world a bit safer.” And in proving that we can roll out IoT at scale, John said that we get closer to the other life-changing innovations IoT has promised for so many years.
To close out the interview, John shared with us some of the challenges he sees companies face as they begin to return to work. And his biggest piece of advice for companies looking to adjust to the new normal: start now.
Interested in connecting with John? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
About Lenovo: Lenovo recently announced IoT solutions for businesses returning to work after the coronavirus pandemic – ThinkIoT Back to Work Solutions. Lenovo has assembled an ecosystem of IoT solutions to help make it easier for customers to get back to work in offices without dealing with the hassle traditionally encountered in IoT projects. To that extent, Lenovo validates, deploys, and manages these end-to-end solutions globally in a set of turnkey offerings, especially important for large businesses with distributed locations. These are the first solutions from Lenovo’s Commercial Internet of Things Business Group, established in 2019 to help drive the company’s service-led transformation.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:02) Introduction to John
(03:09) Introduction to Lenovo
(04:57) What does a typical customer engagement look like for your team?
(08:25) What are some specific use cases in the smart building and retail spaces, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?
(10:19) How does the development process for solutions like these work?
(11:58) How are companies measuring the ROI of these projects, since it’s all so new?
(14:32) What shifts have you seen in companies’ focus as far as IoT projects go post-COVID?
(16:36) Can you speak to the survey Lenovo conducted recently?
(20:48) What are some of the biggest changes companies are going to have to make to adjust to this new normal?
(22:02) What advice do you have for organizations realizing that they need to get started on their digital transformation? What mistakes can they avoid?
(25:14) What are the biggest contributors to widespread IoT adoption, in your opinion? Where should our focus be?
(28:38) What are you the most excited about going into next year?