Lenovo continues to build out Smart Office strategy with ThinkSmart Hub 500 for Zoom Rooms

The follow-up to last year’s original ThinkSmart Hub 500, which was for Skype for Business, continues Lenovo’s strategy of building out their Smart Office portfolio, and in the teams space in particular.

At the InfoComm 2019 event in Orlando, Lenovo has announced its ThinkSmart Hub 500 for Zoom Rooms. The new product both expands Lenovo’s overall Smart Office portfolio, as well as the ThinkSmart Hub 500 all-in-one design specifically. Originally launched in collaboration with Microsoft for the Skype for Business client, this new model has been optimized for the Zoom Rooms conference room solution.

“With this, we are set for a milestone announcement,” said Joseph Mingori, General Manager, Lenovo Smart Office Business. “Since we launched the original Hub 500 we have expanded on our strategy and doubled down from an investment perspective, including a worldwide business group dedicated to Smart Office. Since last July, I’ve been tasked with building out the front and back ends of that organization, including supply chain, sales and marketing. We are showcasing why we entered the market and what we can bring to it. We have  been very successful so far.”

Lenovo is a relative newcomer to the Smart Office space, which has been nominated by Samsung, Cisco and Logitech. When the Skype version of the ThinkSmart Hub 500 hit general availability a year ago, Lenovo said that it was a message to the market that they intended to become a significant player in the space.

“We are where we want to be, and have moved very far along that path since last year,” Mingori said. “Our goal was to be a Tier One player. We are now widely adopted, and seen as a credible provider. We think we are in a unique position in the market because of our PC and data centre businesses and customer relationships around enhancing collaboration. Our share of the overall collaboration space is lower because we don’t have products in all areas, but in the teams market specifically, we have done well.”

Mingori said that Lenovo is able to bring some things to the space besides a recognizable brand.

“Traditional meeting spaces have traditional pain points,” he stated. “There is still a lot of fragmented technology and too many suppliers, and it often leads to a bad experience. We built our strategy around solving some of these pain points, All of our devices have ThinkShield security for example, as we bring it into the collaboration space. That’s especially important for enterprise customers.”

Zoom was a logical candidate to joint Skype as the second software-based conference room solution to be integrated with Lenovo hardware.

“This is our next foray, our next step to build out an overall Smart Office portfolio,” Mingori said. “The cloud-based software market is moving rapidly, and Zoom Rooms is one of the fastest growing players.”

The ThinkSmart Hub 500 for Zoom Rooms has the same base hardware as the Skype version – an Intel vPro processor, integrated speakers, dual microphones, built-in Dolby Audio premium, a 360-degree microphone array and a touchscreen control display to further enhance the Zoom platform experience.

“We have continued to focus on enhancing the sound through our partnership with Dolby, but aside from that the hardware is identical, although there has been tuning for Zoom specifically,” Mingori said. “We think that this type of device in a Zoom environment will be game-changing. It goes well beyond traditional Zoom Room kits, with the all-in-one design, simplicity, and ease of starting meetings.”

Since the original Hub 500 was released, Lenovo has added new vendor partners as part of the Lenovo Vendor Label Hardware Program, to allow customers to  purchase Lenovo-compatible solutions through a single source that can complement or extend the solution’s capabilities.

“We have been working on a set list of key partners to ensure partners will have turnkey solutions that can be acquired through Lenovo,” Mingori said. “Smart displays are critical, and we have a new partnership with Avocor that will provide Avocor interactive displays with 4K video that are Zoom Rooms certified. Customers can now purchase these through the Lenovo account team or Lenovo channel partners. This is our first smart display partner.”

Another new partner is Huddly, which makes AI-powered conference cameras that use an onboard neural engine to allow Huddly IQ to respond to its environment and deliver smart video, that gets smarter over time.

“This space is emerging,” said Brian Thomas, senior director, Lenovo Smart Office Business. “Huddly is a startup from Norway, which is privately held, and they are one of the first to launch cameras with Intel Movidius to allow AI. InfoConn 2018 was their first event.”

Demonstrations of Lenovo’s ThinkSmart Hub 500 for Zoom Rooms and more smart office technology will be shown at InfoComm 2019 in the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, West Level 2, booth # 5073 and additional Lenovo solutions with Avocor and Huddly in Avocor’s booth #4771.

ThinkSmart Hub 500 for Zoom Rooms will be available from July 2019, starting at $USD 1799.

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