Lenovo announces the GA of the Smart Office videoconferencing device, developed in partnership with Microsoft, that was announced last fall at Microsoft’s Ignite event. What they deem more important however, is their message to the market that this product is only the start of an initiative designed to make Lenovo a major player in the Smart Office space.
Lenovo has announced the general availability of the ThinkSmart Hub 500. The product of a partnership with Microsoft, the new offering integrates Microsoft’s Skype for Business videoconferencing with Lenovo hardware into an All-in-One system designed to empower a smart office environment, enhance collaboration and increase productivity. Lenovo’s announcement is more than declaring the product’s availability however. It’s part of a messaging strategy that declares that Lenovo intends to become a serious player in the smart office and collaboration space.
The ThinkSmart Hub 500 was announced last fall, at the Microsoft Ignite event in Orlando.
“Now, we are announcing two things,” said David Rabin, Lenovo’s VP of Commercial Marketing. “First, from a product standpoint, it has now reached the GA stage. The second thing – and why we are effectively relaunching the product – is that we wanted to remind the IT community that not only is the ThinkSmart Hub 500 here, but that Lenovo wants to be a major Smart Office player. Today, we are not in that conversation. which is dominated by Samsung, Cisco and Logitech. But by the end of the year, our expectation is that we will be seen as a Tier One Smart Office vendor. We have really made strides with our concept of the Smart Office, and we are not done yet in 2018 with our foray into Smart Office.”
In addition to the Microsoft software – Skype for Business and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise – the ThinkSmart Hub 500 has a rotatable 11.6” 360 degree screen with touchscreen capability and 300 nits of brightness. The guts include a 7th Generation Intel Core i5 7500T processor with 2.70GHz of power, 8 GB of DDR4 2400 MHz memory, and an 128 GB SSD. Its capabilities include the ability to start a meeting with the click of a button, with video and audio already connected.
“This solves the mess of the conference room – wires, phones and speakers,” Rabin said. It will thus help fulfill a vital function – making sure that video conferences start on time without the delays caused by the need to fiddle with cables, devices and connectivity.
“We believe that this is bigger than a piece of hardware though,” Rabin said. “We have data that show companies will spend up to $100 billion by 2020 in office collaboration. The reason for this is even more interesting. The workforce is becoming both more millennial and more remote-based, as companies source talent more broadly rather than invest in real estate. This requires a significant amount of collaboration tools. We understand commercial customers. We make great hardware. We also have the partner to provide the software to help us become a turnkey vendor in this space.”
The channel for these kind of products has traditionally been dominated by AV resellers.
“This is their sweet spot, and this group is primed for this,” Rabin said. “We recently presented this at an event, and the AV partners there were incredibly excited by the incremental revenue opportunity.”
Compared to the vendors with more of a history in this space, Lenovo’s channel presence is somewhat smaller.
“Some of these AV resellers have worked with us on the tablet side of the house, but there is a large group that we aren’t as entrenched in as some of the other companies, which is something we would like to remedy,” Rabin said.
Rabin said that channel interest will also expand because the growth of the collaboration market and the availability of turnkey product like the ThinkSmart Hub 500 that is easier for partners to use will lead to more resellers deciding to become involved in the segment.
“This is becoming a mainstream IT channel,” he said. “The market is there. It is asking for help around collaboration. People have spoken for years about how long it would take to start a video meeting. This kind of device will benefit the end user will because of more productivity. These devices will also allow IT to right-size because they are so simple to manage. It’s like managing a PC. We are just in the early stages of what workspace transformation will mean over the coming years.”
The ThinkSmart Hub 500 is available now.