Pandemic has made people cosy up to tech: Amar Babu, President, Asia Pacific, Lenovo

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Today, there is a new digital divide, says Amar Babu, president, Asia Pacific, Lenovo. “It is the gap between what India is now, and what it has the potential to become.” With more advanced technology solutions and services, India’s largest businesses can transform themselves and access new markets, while small businesses can turn new ideas into reality, he tells Sudhir Chowdhary. Excerpts:

What are your thoughts on the digital divide in India? What is Lenovo doing to bridge this gap?The stark digital divide that existed in the past is starting to be addressed, in part thanks to strategic initiatives like Digital India. From improving connectivity right through the system to boosting the digital economy, India is already a digital powerhouse in many ways.

But a new digital divide has arisen of late: it’s the gap between what India is now and what it has the potential to become. Businesses throughout India are already using core computing technologies, and have achieved enormous success. But with more advanced technology solutions and services, the largest businesses can transform themselves and access new markets, while small businesses can turn new ideas into reality.

Likewise, while the past two years have seen technology acting as a lifeline for students and educators, much more is possible: today, only a small fraction of schools in India are taking advantage of solutions like video conference apps, cloud-based document sharing, remote access to files, and online learning management systems. Furthermore, building accessibility features into technology can unlock the potential of millions of under-served Indians. These include women and girls, people from remote areas, those using minority languages, and people with disabilities.

We intend supporting India with this next level of solutions – from hybrid cloud to edge solutions to artificial intelligence – so that it can become a growth engine for Asia and the rest of the world.

Are there any other commitments/initiatives you have undertaken in India?India is a key market for us. We recently expanded our local manufacturing portfolio – our PC production facility in Puducherry has rolled out a third manufacturing line and been doubled in capacity – to offer the right PCs, notebooks, tablets, smartphones and other devices to our customers. This is opening doors to more skill-building opportunities and new partnerships that can push the local technology and manufacturing industry in India.

Lenovo also provides technology for the underserved and access to education in India. To date, our initiatives have impacted more than 210,000 students and 7,000 teachers across India. We are working with organisations like Meghshala to support teacher training in 2,300 schools in Karnataka and Manipur, benefitting over 5,000 teachers. Our tie-up with Agastya International Foundation supports STEM education in government schools in Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai, helping more than 8,400 students.

Besides our customers, we are committed to supporting the world we live in and the communities we operate in. We are establishing supplier sustainability programmes throughout the global supply chain including in India. At our production sites, we are working towards increasing power supply from renewable sources to 90% in the next four years.

How has the pandemic impacted technology adoption? How has it pushed Lenovo to innovate?Users in all sectors are more intimate with technology today than ever before. We are expecting more from our devices, data and the cloud. At the same time, we are facing new challenges. This in turn creates catalysts for innovation. For example, in healthcare we are working with tech start-up AgVa Healthcare to make life-saving devices more accessible and affordable for hospitals. We have helped them replace old respirators with 15,000 Lenovo tablets, providing a more portable and cost-effective option.

In education, we partnered with Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) to help students transition to remote learning during the nationwide lockdown. We deployed 5,500 ready-to-use devices, coupled with services support and maintenance for device management.

I am truly excited to see what India can accomplish!