The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation for small and medium businesses according to Rahul Agarwal, CEO & MD, Lenovo India.

In an interaction with BusinessLine , Agarwal detailed how the pandemic has impacted SMBs along with ways to make devices more accessible to small businesses. He also shared insights on the overall PC segment and Lenovo’s strategy for the future. Excerpts:

As businesses begin to reopen, how will the future workplace for SMBs look like? What will be its effect on the PC market?

Once the Covid dust settles down, SMBs will be back to working form office because their cultures are very different from global MNCs. However, there will be more flexibility to work from home. One thing that we surely see happening is SMBs, buying less of desktops and more of notebooks. People need to be connected wherever they are. A notebook is the only way one can do that.

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on the digital transformation of SMBs? How can technology be made more accessible to SMBs?

With Covid-19, the technology maturity of SMB is speeding up, especially the lower end of SMBs. SMBs and consumers both have realised, or maybe it has got reiterated that technology is not just a peripheral thing to do. But it has to be at the core of the business.

SMBs are realising that collaborative tools, security is involved, and many of them are also realizing that it is not just enough to have any device. But they must have a device of a good certification of a good brand. And SMBs always have a cash crunch, by definition. So we see many of them opening to the device as a service, where they will take it on lease and in three years change to another updated device.

I also see some SMBs saying that “Hey, we want to focus on what we want to focus on, which is our business model. Can the whole Device Management be done by vendors?”

From the point of view of SMBs, technology should be seen as an investment, not as an expense. And I think that maybe we see more and more people seeing it that way.

Talking about the PC market for Lenovo, how does the consumer PC segment compare to the commercial segment?

B2C PC market is really booming because of learning from home. And the commercial market is a little slow. We are growing at a much faster pace than the commercial market year on year. In the consumer market, we may see a 25 per cent growth. Whereas the commercial market, we may be flat to minus five.

The tablet market is also gaining popularity. Will tablets impact the consumer PC market?

What we are seeing is the revival of the consumer tablet. And the consumer tablet is being revived solely on mostly on education.

The key difference is the ecosystem. Smart tablets are Android while computers mostly run on Windows. They are not going to replace the desktop or a notebook soon. Just an additional demand that is popping up because of online education and ed-tech platforms.

What is your strategy in terms of market competition?

In India last year, we were number one in PCs, we were number one in tablets. So that gives us joy because we have the scale. We are on two paths. We are focusing on we are around on two paths. The first path is not just the device, but device plus services as well. We have a whole lot of services today that we offer, in addition to our devices, from additional warranty services, special warranty services, configuration, data migration to project management. We are growing very rapidly on that.

Second, I think we also feel that to really be in the minds of the customer, we have to be more and more customer-oriented. Consumer companies have been better than technology companies. We realised that a few years ago and we will continue on that path. I think if we do these, then we don't really need to worry too much about competition.