Yuanqing Yang’s Keynote Speech: Intelligent Transformation – the Fourth Industrial Revolution

by Yuanqing Yang
Lenovo Chairman and CEO
I can’t think of another city more fitting to host this ‘Transform’ event than New York

A city that has transformed from a humble trading post 400 years ago, to one of the most vibrant cities in the world.

It is the perfect symbol of transformation of our world – the rapid and deep transformations that propelled us from the steam engine to the Internet in just 200 years.

Looking back 200 years ago, there were only a few companies that operated in a global scale. The total value of the world’s economy was around 180 billion US dollars – that is only $180 for each person on earth.

Today, there are thousands of independent global companies.  They compete to sell everything – from corn and crude oil – to servers and software. They drive a robust global economy worth over 75 trillion dollars – or $1,000 per person.

Think about it. The global economy has multiplied almost 450 times in just two centuries.

What is even more remarkable is that the economy has almost doubled every fifteen years since 1950.

That is a significant transformation for businesses and for the world, in a tiny slice of time.

This transformation is the result of the greatest advances in technology in human history. Not one, but three industrial revolutions have happened over the last 200 years. But if those revolutions created remarkable change, they were just the beginning.

Today we are standing at the beginning of the fourth revolution. This revolution will transform how we work and live – in ways that no one could imagine in the 18th century – or even 18 months ago.

And you are the people who will lead this revolution. Along with Lenovo, we will redefine “IT”.

“IT” is no longer just “Information Technology.” It is Intelligent Transformation – a transformation that is driven by big data, cloud and artificial intelligence.

If the transition from PC internet to mobile internet is a big leap, then today we are facing yet another big leap from the mobile internet to smart internet. In this smart internet era, cloud enables devices such as PCs, smartphones, smart speakers, smart TV and AR/VR to provide content and services. But the evolution does not stop there. Ultimately, almost everything around us will become smart with built-in computing, storage and networking capabilities. That’s what we call the ‘device + cloud’ transformation.

These smart devices, incorporated with various sensors, will continuously sense our environment and send the data about our world to the cloud. In order to store and process these ever increasing big data, and to support the delivery of cloud content and services, the data center infrastructure is also transforming to be more agile, flexible and intelligent. That’s what we call the ‘infrastructure + cloud’ transformation.

But most importantly, it is the human wisdom, the deep learning algorithm, rigorously improved by engineers, that enables Artificial Intelligence to learn from big data and make everything around us smarter.

With the big data collected from smart devices, computing power of the new infrastructure and the trained artificial intelligence, we can understand the world around us more accurately and make smarter decisions. We can make lives better, work easier and society safer and healthier.

Think about what is already possible as we start this transformation.

Smart Assistants can help you place orders online with a voice command. Driverless cars can run on the same road as traditional cars. Chat-bots can help troubleshoot customer’s problems. And virtual doctors already diagnose basic symptoms. The list goes on and on.

Like every revolution before it, Intelligent Transformation will fundamentally change the nature of business and customer relationships. Understanding and preparing for that will be the key to the growth and success of your business.

The first industrial revolution made it possible to mechanize production. Water and steam power let us go from making things by hand to making them by machine.  This transformed how fast things could be produced.  It drove the quantity of merchandise made, and led to massive increase in trade. With this revolution, business scale expanded, and the number of customers exploded.

Fifty years later, the second industrial revolution made it necessary to organize business like the modern enterprise. Electric power and telegraph communication made business faster and more complex, challenging businesses to become more efficient and meet entirely new customer demands.

In our own lifetimes, we have witnessed the third industrial revolution, which made it possible to digitize the enterprise. The development of computers and the Internet accelerated business beyond human speed. Now global businesses have to deal with customers at the end of a cable, not a handshake.

While we are still dealing with the effects of digitizing business, the fourth revolution is already here.

In just the past two or three years, the growth of data and advancement in Artificial Intelligence has been astonishing.

The computing power can now process the massive amount of data – about your customers, suppliers, partners, competitors – and give you insights you simply could not imagine before.

Artificial Intelligence can not only tell you what your customers want today, but also anticipate what they will need tomorrow.

But this is not just about making better business decisions or creating better customer relationships. It’s about making the world a better place.

Ultimately, could we build a new world without disease, war and poverty? The power of big data and Artificial Intelligence may be the revolutionary technology to make that possible.

But revolutions don’t happen on their own.

Every industrial revolution has its leaders, its visionaries and its heroes – the Master Transformers of their age.

The first industrial revolution was led by mechanics, who designed and built power systems, machines and factories. The heroes of the second industrial revolution were the business managers, who designed and built modern organizations. The heroes of the third revolution were the engineers, who designed and built the circuits and source code that digitized our world.

And the Master Transformers of the next revolution – are You.

You are the designers and builders of the networks and systems. You will bring the benefits of intelligence to every corner of your enterprise and make intelligence the central asset of your business.

At Lenovo, data intelligence is embedded into everything we do. How we understand a customer’s true needs and develop more desirable products. How we profile our customers and market to them precisely. How we use internal and external data to balance our supply and demand. And how we train virtual agents to provide more effective aftersales services.

So, the decisions you make today about your IT investment will determine the quality of the decisions your enterprise will make tomorrow. I challenge each of you to seize the opportunity to become a Master Transformer…to join Lenovo as we walk together at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution as leaders of the Intelligent Transformation!

Today we are launching the largest portfolio in our data center history as Lenovo, and we are fully committed to Intelligent Transformation.


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As a global technology leader, Lenovo is pioneering the use of groundbreaking AI to enhance our own operations, so we can help enterprises transform and embrace smarter AI for all.

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