A coffee with… Graham Thomas, senior technologist at Lenovo
Lenovo has recently launched a group of new devices and software to help support the ever-changing needs of today’s remote business end-users.
Among the additions include the new ThinkVision 27 3D Monitor, the Lenovo Wired VOIP Headset, and upgraded features on the cloud-based Lenovo Device Manager.
According to the tech giant, the new accessories are designed to boost the capabilities of remote workers, but also address challenges businesses face as they digitise more operations.
At Fitzrovia’s Mortimer House, TI sat down with Lenovo’s Graham Thomas to look at what challenges remote working breeds, how the business is ticking the sustainability box and, besides caffeine, how the senior technologist recharges during a working day.
How are your new features/ tools able to help customers?
We’ve got a number of tools on the device that can help the end user – some who have never worked remotely before.
The IT department are now able to sprinkle their magic on devices they rolled out three years ago to make them secure and compliant. They can remotely access these devices, update them, and make them as secure as possible.
According to your customers what are the main challenges involved in working remotely?
Security. When you think of what offices have – CCTV, access controls doors, part of a business park that might be closed off at night – you don’t have that same level of security at a domestic dwelling.
You also don’t have secure infrastructure. The majority of people get their router from their broadband provider but it’s not secure, not in the same way an enterprise WAP would be, it could be even less secure than a free coffee shop WIFI network.
Employers are no longer asking “do you live near a mainline station”, they’re more concerned about their employees broadband and remote-working environment.
What areas of tech do you think will dominate the workplace over the next five years?
Collaboration technology. It needs to be more inclusive. If people are working remotely, how do you engage with that person? A fixed camera in a room isn’t the same as being present in the office, your peripheral vision is a lot wider. You’re also less likely to pick up on gestures and sense people’s reactions.
In a remote call you have a very narrow window to talk and it becomes a sort of pitch. If something presents a problem you’ll say, “I’ll get back to you on that”, but in person it could be resolved during the walk back to the office.
AI is something that can help. In the same way that self-driving cars have used learnt behaviour to embed a chip in a car, collaboration technology could create learnt behaviour to embed in a camera that leverages data from previous meetings.
What is your company doing to bolster sustainability efforts internally and externally?
In our material labs we’ve worked out the ideal thresholds for recycled materials and how to make them go further.
We also design products to make them easier for the consumer to recycle, and some of our products are organic. Our new phone cases, for example, are made out of materials that have been left on the field after a combine harvester’s worked it.
We even moved our headquarters to a net-zero business park because our current building didn’t meet our own sustainability standards. What we didn’t take with us went to schools in Africa, and schools and charities locally. It was one of the first highly rated sustainability moves.
In your career to date what has been your biggest successes and one of your biggest learning lessons?
We listen to customers and we’re always able to let them know what to expect. I used to work for a PC vendor that didn’t listen to customers and it was a tough few years.
What’s the latest piece of tech you bought for personal use?
A Bambu Lab 3D printer, it’s amazing. It was only £600 which in the grand scheme of things isn’t too expensive, if you think how much a phone costs. I’ve been able to print my children’s designs for school and I ended up going in to teach students how to use CAD packages.
If you had to choose a side are you, team Musk or team Bezos?
Both. In terms of cutting edge technology, they both push for similar things but with different approaches.
Besides caffeine, how do you recharge during the working day?
Regular screen breaks. You can’t decompress anymore working remotely, you don’t sit in traffic for 45 minutes listening to that record that everyone told you was rubbish!
Take yourself away and do something different, for me I like making things.
Check out TI’s coffee with SimSpace CTO and co-founder, Lee Rossey
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