“Lenovo powers Lenovo,” and then millions of customers

During the pandemic, many companies scrambled to adjust to the remote-work revolution. Lenovo found an opportunity for technology commercialization, thanks to years of preparation.

When the pandemic forced employees home in 2020, many companies were left scrambling to digitize and prepare themselves for the remote-work revolution. Lenovo, the world’s largest personal computer company by market share, found its opportunity amid the crisis, thanks to years of preparation.

According to Art Hu, global chief information officer and chief technology and delivery officer of Lenovo’s Solutions and Services Group, the remote work market created a demand for tech services that enabled Lenovo to commercialize a number of IT capabilities it had initially developed for internal use.

“For years, we had accumulated technology, solutions, and experiences in areas like edge, cloud, network, and intelligence. We were ready to empower customers by commercializing our internal innovations into full-stack services, on top of our traditional hardware offerings,” says Hu.1

To accelerate its commercialization journey, Lenovo initiated a strategic program called “Lenovo Powers Lenovo,” where tech and business teams worked together to validate, reshape, and put forward proprietary products and solutions as market offerings.

For example, Lenovo’s xCloud, a hybrid cloud solution for multicloud management, was originally built by its own IT team as an internal platform. When it became clear that xCloud could help customers manage cloud complexity, Hu’s product teams set to work on a go-to-market and productization strategy. “When the business teams started requesting it to be commercialized for customers, we knew the internal product was a success story and needed to expand,” says Hu.

According to Hu, the software and product commercialization journey at Lenovo begins with the tech function, as that’s where technical expertise resides. Business leaders must partner with the tech team to align on go-to-market details and ensure the solution fulfills the needs of their customers. With that collaboration in place, Lenovo built several proprietary solutions and products ready for market testing.

“While the tech function may serve as the cradle of innovation, collaboration from other departments is necessary for the product or solution to be commercially viable at scale,” says Hu.

Of course, there have been challenges along the way to Lenovo’s current melding of business and tech. One major challenge, according to Hu, was how to formulate a minimum viable product that could be marketed effectively. When the tech team provided services to business teams internally, it generally focused on realizing business value for a particular team.

However, for a product to be marketable, there needs to be a standard product template, adaptable to different customer situations and flexible for configuration. By proactively reaching out to customers and learning from business teams, Lenovo gradually developed an approach that works. “One of the key success factors is to get rid of company-specific features and focus on replicable functionalities,” says Hu. 

For others exploring tech and software monetization, Hu advises caution in estimating the time, effort, and cost needed to define and build a customer-ready offering for the market compared with an internal IT deployment. “It’s not an easy journey to create a marketable product from an internal solution. It is a long process requiring continuous dedication and investment along the way, so persistence is a must,” says Hu.

As a second step, he recommends getting in front of customers to test the value proposition and iterate based on user feedback. Finally, Hu says, “Companies should apply a portfolio lens to their ideas for commercialization. Due to the inherent uncertainty, they’re bound to have winners and losers, and not every idea can pass the milestones to be commercially successful.”

For Lenovo, commercializing tech contributes to a trusted and reliable partnership with its customers, one that accelerates the company’s digital transformation in a postpandemic world. Efforts such as “Lenovo Powers Lenovo” also help internal tech teams to get educated on the market and inspired to build more competitive offerings.

Says Hu, “The tech team is now a customer-oriented team. With two-way interactions around internal deployment and customer practices, it becomes a dual cycle to help both Lenovo and customers grow capabilities in the long term.”


  1. Interview with Art Hu, global chief information officer and chief technology and delivery officer, Lenovo, August 11, 2023.

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Writer: Abhijith Ravinutala

Design consultant: Heidi Morrow

Cover image by: Rahul Bodiga