The Call For Leaders interview series reached its third phase, with the established 3Q format having received a revamp for 2021. The original Call For Leaders 3Q and its sequel, Call For Leaders – Back in Business, have seen us talking to quite a diverse roster of business leaders in Romania, representing top companies and various industries. In this new this latest episode, BR talked to Georgi Bonev, CSEE Marketing Lead Mobile Business Group, Lenovo.
- How will your company be involved in the development of your industry, and in the recovery of other sectors which were affected by the pandemic?
We can say that the mobile industry remained resilient and fortunately the pandemic had minimal impact on us, but on the other part it changed the consumer’s behavior. We felt the first effects of the pandemic last year, in February 2020, when the factories in China continued to remain closed after the week dedicated to the Chinese New Year celebration and this had an immediate influence on productivity and distribution. Afterwards, the lockdowns in Europe and the local announcement of the state of emergency affected the sales, caused by the constraint of our partners’ channels. But, while initially this was a negative impact, after a while we realised that we are somehow privileged in this industry because people, now working more from home, value the equipment they use on a daily basis differently. We’ve seen this in Lenovo laptops, but also in Motorola smartphones. And obviously people who didn’t necessarily had a very high-performance phone have been thinking about changing it to get a bigger display, a better camera, a more powerful processor, all these things that help them to get a better performance. And not just in business, because this time phones have been our ally in the fight against the pandemic and have kept us close to family, friends and our passions.
Regarding the recovery of the industry, in my view, the forecast for this year is more than positive. I believe in a continued recovery in consumer demand, but also in the power of 5G technology to reshape the world as we know it, starting from automation projects, eHealth, IoT and smart transportation. Also, for us, at Motorola, 5G plays an important role, as our aim is to democratise the access to 5G technology. We bet on 5G devices and our believe is that this segment should help the smartphone market bounce back in 2021. This year will bring more 5G capable units to the market, and the competition is always the best sign for innovation, but also a leap of faith for a healthy growth in the months ahead.
- After a difficult 2020 year, how do you think business optimism will be influenced in 2021?
I would say that innovation is keeping our optimism alive. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world and its effects will last. As consumer confidence returns, so will spending, with “revenge shopping” sweeping through sectors as pent-up demand is unleashed. That has been the experience of all previous economic downturns. One difference, however, is that services have been particularly hard hit this time. The bounce back will therefore likely emphasize those businesses, particularly the ones that have a services element, such as restaurants and entertainment venues.
On the other hand, necessity is indeed the mother of invention. During the COVID-19 crisis, one area that has seen tremendous growth is digitization, meaning everything from online customer service to remote working to supply-chain reinvention to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve operations. The move towards new remote and hybrid working arrangements, new spending priorities for businesses around IT infrastructure, automation and the huge shift to online retail, are likely to provide a long-term boost to sales and investment in the tech sector. So, once again, I’m saying that we are fortunate to work in this field, as the COVID-19 crisis has created an imperative for companies to reconfigure their operations and an opportunity to transform them. To the extent that they do so, greater productivity will follow.
- How will you approach innovation and new investments in 2021?
Human behaviour changed significantly in 2020. And now, more than ever, the desire for connectivity and accessibility has increased a lot. Motorola, as OEM, is already making progress with products, marketing, and overall business strategies to align with this new normal. But looking ahead, what we are living now is an opportunity for a new wave of innovation to take centre stage. In 2021 and beyond, we think this change in consumer behaviour will be a catalyst for smartphone innovation, one that goes beyond the traditional capabilities of a smartphone. With improved connectivity and speed, thanks to things like 5G and more responsive processors, our smartphones will start to play a more central role in keeping us connected, but not only this if we think at remote work or educational field. Gladly, Motorola is here to meet the customers’ needs with an extended range of 5G devices, that includes from the most affordable 5G smartphone on the market to the super premium category.
Also, last year, Motorola conducted a study in Romania, as we wanted to see how Romanians relate to 5G connectivity and how eager are they to use the technology. The results were fantastic, as the study revealed that 48% of respondents plan to buy a new phone in 2021 to access 5G. So, this study confirmed us the importance of continuing to democratise access to 5G technology while paying particular attention to consumer information. That’s why this year we want to invest more in showing the benefits of 5G technology, by highlighting how 5G is changing the experience of using a phone. We want users to make an informed decision, so our resources will be invested here, as we want people to understand how connectivity improvements will enable our smartphone to interact better, and more efficiently with the devices around us, transforming our smartphones into things like game consoles or extensions of our desktops. And as people of all ages embrace technology during this era of remote connectivity, we will also start to see how the smartphone will not only help us complete tasks more efficiently, like working in a remote environment or educating children from home, but will also help us collaborate, learn, educate and connect with the world around us.