Lenovo Limbers Up With Visual Analytics


The product engineering whizzes at Lenovo created a nifty mini notebook, the Yoga 11S, that's as powerful as it is flexible, sporting 3rd Generation Intel Core processors and easily transforming from laptop to tablet mode, tented, or standing. Now it's marketing's turn.

As of mid-May, you can place an order for the Yoga 11S if you'd like. But the real marketing efforts will kick off next month as Lenovo looks to capitalize on the back-to-school buying season. This I learned from Ajit Sivadasan, Lenovo's vice president and general manager of global e-commerce, sales and marketing, who I talked to recently about the company's big-data analytics strategy. He called the Yoga 11S marketing campaign "the ideal project to pursue as a backdrop for the big-data work we want to do going forward."

It's ideal, he said, because it has all of the dimensions that drive complexity and all the attributes that, if you were to try looking at from a traditional spreadsheet standpoint, "would drive you crazy. You wouldn't be able to get the insights you're looking, it'd be too asynchronous, and, ultimately, you wouldn't be able... to be predictive in how to go about optimizing spend."

In other words, the Yoga 11S campaign represents the quintessential challenge of modern marketing -- what with the global distribution and multiple online and offline channels, including, of course, a big social media component, involved. And did I mention limited spending dollars?

"We're dealing with the ultimate marketing question that everyone is grappling with," Sivadasan said. "We're all trying to figure out the minimum spend that maximizes profit and then how to scale that."

Lenovo has pulled in the big guns to help it tame this cross-channel, geo-diverse marketing challenge -- SAS Visual Analytics, a high-performance analytics platform that allows visual data exploration and presentation. It has SAS Visual Analytics in pilot mode now, prepping for the big Yoga 11S campaign push.

The platform is still so new to Lenovo that Sivadasan said he didn't have much detail he could share. But he did explain what drew him to the product. "What's interesting to me is how, literally in real time, you can dig 10 levels deep in a visual way... without having to do any separate analysis."

The promise of easily and quickly running what-if scenarios while modeling data is especially welcome given how cumbersome and resource-intensive those are to do in traditional analysis, he added. "That's what I'm hoping that we're going to get out of it -- the ability to crunch through literally millions of lines of data coming from 10 or 15 or 20 disparate data sources and being able to paint this picture of how these customers are going to behave and therefore how we should be optimizing the marketing spend."

And, finally, Sivadasan added, "when a general manager asks me, 'So if I give you $1 million to spend on marketing, what are you going to get for me in return?' I feel I may be able to get to that answer a bit more scientifically than I have been able to do in the past."

Getting to where he'd like Lenovo to be on campaign spend will take the hard work of a cross-functional team of people who develop a base model that can be built on top of and gets taken through several iterations before it's really good and usable at large, Sivadasan said. But ideally, what the company will end up with is "an evolved predictive model that gives us a great starting point for every campaign."

I'll be sure to touch base with Sivadasan after the fall marketing program to see how the use of the high-performance visual analytics platform helped Lenevo optimize its marketing spend. Until then, check out Sivadasan and SAS CEO Jim Goodnight chatting about SAS Visual Analytics on stage at the recent SAS Global Forum conference in San Francisco:

I'd love to hear what tools you use to optimize campaign spend. Share below!

Beth Schultz, Editor in Chief

Beth Schultz has more than two decades of experience as an IT writer and editor.  Most recently, she brought her expertise to bear writing thought-provoking editorial and marketing materials on a variety of technology topics for leading IT publications and industry players.  Previously, she oversaw multimedia content development, writing and editing for special feature packages at Network World. In particular, she focused on advanced IT technology and its impact on business users and in so doing became a thought leader on the revolutionary changes remaking the corporate datacenter and enterprise IT architecture. Beth has a keen ability to identify business and technology trends, developing expertise through in-depth analysis and early adopter case studies. Over the years, she has earned more than a dozen national and regional editorial excellence awards for special issues from American Business Media, American Society of Business Press Editors, Folio.net, and others.

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Re: Competition
  • 6/24/2013 9:02:52 AM
NO RATINGS

It's going to be a matter of price, design, and how to tap the hot button of consumers. Especially for the student market, they need to have some really cool stuff that will mange to get boatloads of comments on social media to really fly stuff off the shelves.

Re: Demo system
  • 6/20/2013 1:48:34 PM
NO RATINGS

@Beth, it really is a time suck, but fascinating is the right word. Once you start to get into it your imagination just runs wild. 

Re: Demo system
  • 6/20/2013 8:37:04 AM
NO RATINGS

@bulk, i remember you sharing that earlier on these message boards. Maybe the demo should come with a warning about what a time suck you might be entering should you choose to proceed -- a fascinating time suck, but a time suck nonetheless! ;-)

Re: What will they see?
  • 6/20/2013 8:35:36 AM
NO RATINGS

That is the question, right? I'm assuming it's been through enough demos and knows its data well enough to understand that the visual analytics piece is a critical next step but, yes, the insight that comes from that will be interesting to hear about (which is why I've asked Ajit to talk again once the back-to-school campaign wraps up!).

Re: Demo system
  • 6/20/2013 12:06:50 AM
NO RATINGS

@Hospice, 

I was very impressed with the platform I have a few ideas for simple uses with this type of analytics already. Just need to get around to it. 

Re: Competition
  • 6/19/2013 2:57:04 PM
NO RATINGS

@Hospice, no doubt, competition will be stiff in the back-to-school device market -- and not only among Windows system providers. Apple will have its discounts, too.

 

Re: Demo system
  • 6/19/2013 2:39:51 PM
NO RATINGS

@bulk,

"its very nice, sort of mind blowing"

Very interesting visualization platform indeed. I can see a lot of work is be done to make the visualization features user-friendly and easy to navigate.

Re: What will they see?
  • 6/19/2013 2:32:26 PM
NO RATINGS

@bulk,

Could that be related to the success of IBM in business analytics? With watson, IBM is one of the leading companies in smart analytics.

Competition
  • 6/19/2013 2:28:49 PM
NO RATINGS

"Lenovo looks to capitalize on the back-to-school buying season"

It all depends on the prices as Lenovo will have to face competition from other tablet manufacturers aiming at conquering the school market. For instance, Microsoft is also targeting schools and universities with a Surface RT discount offer during the summer buying season. (http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-57589824-75/microsoft-targets-schools-with-surface-rt-discount/)

Re: What will they see?
  • 6/19/2013 1:48:34 AM
NO RATINGS

In what way do you mean, Noreen? 

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