Arthur Hu aing Lenovo nine years ago afterwards added than eight years as a adviser at McKinsey & Company. Hu ascended the ranks to become Chief Advice Officer a bit added than two years ago while still in his 30s. In that role, leads the advice technology activity and business transformation activities for a Chinese aggregation with above operations in the US and in a array of added countries. As a Chinese-American who speaks chatty Mandarin, he leads a assorted team, and spends almost bisected of his time in Beijing, and bisected of his time either in the United States or at added cardinal locations for the company.
Hu pushes his IT administration aggregation to acquire a able of Lenovo’s strategy, what is accident in the broader industry, as able-bodied as to abide beside of acute technology trends in adjustment to drive transformation. He additionally strives to be the company’s aboriginal and best customer, leveraging its technology, and accouterment acceptance on its strengths and breadth it adeptness improve.
Hu represents the CIO of the future, in abounding ways. His adeptness to assignment seamlessly beyond the two bigger economies, his adeptness to appulse the company’s transformation and products, and his adeptness to adept both activity and access set him apart. He describes his adventure and his methods herein.
(To acquire to an entire podcast adaptation of this interview, amuse bang this link. To apprehend approaching accessories like this one, amuse chase me on Twitter @PeterAHigh.)
Peter High: Could you call your role as the Chief Advice Officer of Lenovo?
Art Hu: As the CIO and business transformation baton at Lenovo, I acquire a bifold role. I am amenable for befitting the business active and creating a able agent experience, which involves our workspace and our clandestine and accessible cloud. The added aspect of my position targets Lenovo’s business transformation. In this role, I focus on defining and evolving our business processes and models, which ultimately helps us serve our barter bigger and advance Lenovo’s competitiveness.
High: How do you ascertain what a business transformation entails?
Hu: Fundamentally a business transformation is about the circle of three aspects:
High: Can you allocution about the cardinal roadmap that you and your aggregation are focused on?
Hu: Lenovo has a bright three-way strategy, which is comprised of our PCs, our abstracts centermost and advancement business, and next-generation accessories and enabled computing, both in the abstracts centers as able-bodied as for consumers. From a cardinal roadmap adequacy perspective, our access is advised about Lenovo’s use of agenda techniques to bigger cross ambiguity and accretion agility. This roadmap is abnormally accessible back we are adverse an ambiguous amphitheatre breadth we charge to run abstracts to access advice as to what is accident in our landscape.
The architectonics of our cardinal roadmap is abased on how we affix added genitalia of our business in a holistic way. We bisect this cardinal roadmap into three sub-areas:
High: Unlike tech-based organizations such as Lenovo, abounding companies’ IT aptitude is aural the IT department. How do you appearance creating altered amount from IT aural a tech-forward alignment that has all-encompassing tech aptitude throughout?
Hu: At Lenovo, I get to abrasion an added hat as an centralized chump of our technology, which is a position abounding CIOs are not in. Typically, the CIO is the complete provider of technology solutions, but because we acquire a abstracts centermost business, I am advantaged to be a chump in that sense. This is a abundant acquaintance because I aspire to be the best and aboriginal user of Lenovo’s products, which has become an added agitative role over the years. Five years ago, Lenovo’s primary focus was alone on PCs, but as our abstracts centermost business has expanded, I am now a prime applicant for actuality the aboriginal chump as a Fortune 500 CIO.
As the abstracts centermost accumulation has pivoted to accretion its accretion accumulator and arrangement technologies, there are added opportunities than anytime for collaboration. As a customer, I get a aboriginal attending at our product, which I use if they are a acceptable fit, and if they are not, I accord my acceptance as to why. As an example, Lenovo afresh bare to acquire beyond machines to abutment some of the scale-up aspects of our all-around SAP instances. Back I looked at our offerings, I begin that this was not on the roadmap for the abstracts centers, which I begin aberrant as this was a accepted use case in the industry. I batten with our articulation baton [at the time], Kim Stevenson, and I asked why they did not acquire article that accurate this accurate scenario. Kim agreed with my concern, and the roadmap was adapted to acquire a scale-up server that would bigger be able to awning some of the needs for large, all-around SAP instances.
Beyond this, addition aspect is that aural a technology-centric company, there are abounding centers of engineering excellence, abnormally about software. I acquire that agenda acceptable affected throughout the business is one of the key alteration trends in technology. With this evolution, I admit that I am not the alone actuality with competent and accomplished software engineers aural the company. Back I baddest teams, I appraise what anniversary team’s amount backbone is in creating best value. For example, with our artefact engineering teams, both the IT and engineering teams acquire the abilities to body the tools. However, it fundamentally comes bottomward to what anniversary aggregation should be absorption on as allotment of their mission. As CIO, my ambition is to accommodate the best industry-leading solutions to accredit our business, and I charge advice appoint and acquire our barter to do so. On the cast side, our artefact team’s mission is to body the complete best-performing accessories for their customers. While both teams are accomplished and capable, that is not the best important aspect back selecting teams. Instead, we charge coact to adjudge whose mission best fits the task. I acquire the acceptance that all of our accomplished engineers could body these systems is important because it gives them a point of validation. While it is bigger to acquire corresponding focus areas so that we can differentiate and add amount to our altered spheres, their aptitude is still actuality recognized.
High: Lenovo is based in China, and the alignment is heavily complex in the United States as well. As somebody who has alloyed yourself into both cultures, what sorts of insights can you allotment apropos the commonalities and differences amid alive in the US and China?
Hu: I acquire a altered point of appearance in the faculty that I acquire bodies sometimes accent one adeptness against another, whether that be China against the US or article else. That said, Lenovo has fabricated a cogent advance in architecture a all-around culture, and we acquire specific affairs about customers, collaboration, innovation, and ambitious behaviors. These concepts represent a accepted foundation in language, and back I appointment any of our locations worldwide, I can bound acquaint back I am speaking to a Lenovo aggregation member. On top of that foundation, we acquire formed to accommodate aspects that fit able-bodied with the adeptness we aspire to build.
With the China team, we approach a able focus on the beheading of a plan and a abundant bent appear action, which involves demography a quick aboriginal step. With our all-embracing teams, we absorb a able chump appearance and advocacy, and we conduct a cardinal assay of the big account to accomplish abiding that we appraise the abounding admeasurement of the problem. There are bright appearance differences and preferences amid the teams in China and the United States. In China, for example, there is a another for added aberrant means of speaking up, surfacing, and absolute issues, and there is added of a addiction for acquiescence to a hierarchy. It is analytical to accede that there are no absolutes as none of these characteristics are inherently acceptable by themselves. Instead, the key is accepting acquaintance of some of the differences and appearance preferences as able-bodied as some of the behavioral patterns they may drive. From there, it is analytical to actuate how you can agglutinate these differences calm into the way you appetite to work, and you charge be able to approach them to the advantage of the company.
For example, if you apperceive that addition is added acceptable to acquire a bulletin through the alternation of command against a peer, that is best acceptable the aisle of atomic attrition to accepting the bulletin out. If you faculty that addition is afflictive adage something, you charge admit and acquire that. Instead of angry stylistic differences, you charge to actuate the actual advice channel. Accepting this adeptness allows you to advance how you appetite to collaborate to accomplish a goal. What is abundant about Lenovo is that everybody wants to win. Back we acquire credibility of friction, attractive at the best absorption of the aggregation becomes the accepted accent to acquiesce us to body over the differences appear a added able outcome.
High: How do you anatomy your teams in both the US and China? Specifically, how do you anticipate about who goes breadth and what assignment gets done where?
Hu: Lenovo’s all-around brand provides us with the adeptness to accept our aptitude about to location. This advantage was partially affiliated as our operational address is listed in Hong Kong, and we acquire ample bases of operation in both Beijing and Raleigh, North Carolina. For the affiliation aspect, there is a accustomed addiction for the customer-facing functions to co-locate with the business. This is because there are assertive affairs breadth contiguous interactions accomplish the effectiveness, efficiency, and the acquaintance of alive with the business essentially better. For example, accepting a change administration chat about a decidedly adhesive point with the accepted administrator of the country is decidedly easier with addition who is bounded and has formed in the business for years. Obviously, that chat will go decidedly bigger than the alternative, which is a altercation over the buzz from twelve time zones abroad in the average of the night. Lenovo ethics those contiguous interactions, abnormally back alive through some of the added arduous change administration and transformation accommodation discussions. For that reason, we acquire assorted teams in Beijing and Raleigh. Additionally, we acquire chief agents associates who are focused on the customer-facing ancillary about the change management, and these individuals sit with assorted leaders and accepted managers in above countries beyond the globe.
On the commitment side, we optimize for calibration because calibration and co-location amount with ample engineering organizations such as ourselves. As an alignment of Chinese heritage, we acquire a ample abject of engineers in the country who anatomy the amount of our artefact and commitment teams. This allows our teams to get scale, and abounding of the business teams are in China, which provides an added bonus.
High: Are there any added technologies that are authoritative their way assimilate your claimed roadmap?
Hu: I acquire that the transformation that digitalization entails is the evolving role of technology amid all businesses. Technology will alone abide to advance its move from backstage to centermost stage, and I acquire this change puts a exceptional on the technology leader’s adeptness to act as a arch and translator amid the technology and the business world. Businesses charge to acclimatize to how important technology is becoming, and technology leaders in the alignment charge allege in a accent that is concise, compelling, and accessible to understand. This is a arduous assignment for technology leaders, but it is a trend I appetite to exploit. I acquire a cogent allotment of the amount IT leaders accommodate is how abundant technology can be anchored into the business, and how we can get the alignment to admit technologies’ adeptness to actualize new possibilities. The best the aggregation thinks of itself as a acknowledging character, the best it is activity to booty them to accommodate this value. Instead, to get the best amount out of technology, IT teams charge anticipate of themselves as a key contributor in affective the aggregation forward. Instead of absorption alone on the technology itself, the focus should be on accepting the business to absolutely acquire their capabilities. If IT admiral can focus on this, it will acquiesce the aggregation to get the abounding amount out of the technologies beginning potential.
I am additionally aflame about the accretion beverage of design, accurately about human-centric computing. There acquire been abounding systems breadth the engineering aggregation acutely never anticipation about how a non-specialized user would use the process, which is a above aberration as cerebration about architectonics from an compassionate appearance is critical. This is because accouterment seamless acceptance can alleviate cogent amount in a way that we acquire not amorphous to absolutely abduction today. While some companies are disturbing with this, Amazon and others acquire been acknowledged in acclimating users and the action apple to apprehend a able and seamless design. I acquire this brings a new conduct in, which will accomplish our systems decidedly added accessible and impactful.
The third aspect I am aflame about is able transformation. At Lenovo, we use the actionable chat “unsmartify” internally, which is about applying bogus intelligence [AI] to our amount chain. This allows us to become added able and effective, and it gives us the adeptness to attending into breadth we can administer AI to an breadth that we are aloof starting to blemish the apparent on. I am in the affected that the A in AI should angle for augmented, rather than artificial, because in our explorations, bodies alive with some of our models acquire fabricated the all-embracing adeptness decidedly bigger than article that is absolutely AI.
Peter High is President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advising firm. His latest book is Implementing Apple Class IT Strategy. He is additionally the columnist of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed Back IT Triumphs. Peter moderates the Forum on Apple Class IT podcast series. He speaks at conferences about the world. Chase him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.
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