New head of Lenovo North America aims to make the computer company a dominant player in Canada

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      Matthew Zielinski has big plans for Lenovo in Canada. He wants to get the technology company showing up on market-share reports, where he admits it hasn’t been north of the 49th.

      Meanwhile, in the United States, his “beast mode” approach over the past eight months has led to a full point of market share. Zielinski had planned on a quarter point.

      The challenge in Canada, Zielinski says, is that Lenovo is further behind the competition. But with fewer retailers, he’s hopeful his strategy to focus on a few tactics will lead to similar success.

      “I wanted to increase customer acquisitions,” he told the Georgia Straight in a boardroom at the Westin Bayshore hotel, where Lenovo was holding a company retreat. Lenovo looked to get more customers from the public sector and the education sectors, and by “rebooting” the small- and medium-business channel.

      Zielinski believes that Lenovo has best-in-class offerings, especially in the main computer-product line, where the company is entrenching.

      “We’ve been thinking about designing and delivering products,” said Zielinski, and that includes spending more time with retailers and customers to get feedback. It’s part of what Zielinski calls a “collaborative design strategy”. “Sometimes technologists don’t know best,” he admitted.

      As an example, Zielinski talked about Lenovo’s privacy guards that were designed to keep people from being able to see your screen. After talking to people who were using Lenovo devices, product designers developed an automatic privacy guard that, when activated, prevents anyone who isn’t directly in front of the computer from being able to see the screen.

      Another growth area identified by Zielinski is augmented and virtual reality. Lenovo is marketing the first standalone headset, the Mirage Solo, that delivers VR experiences without cables attached to computers.

      The company is selling classroom VR kits, which include headsets preloaded with some 700 “field trips” and integrated lesson plans. Some of the experiences come from the Wild Immersion project, which bills itself as a “virtual reserve” of animals from around the world. Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall is a partner, through her institute.

      Zielinski calls these educational experiences a “game changer”.