What is a digital wardrobe?

Thorsten Stremlau

Thursday 17 August 2017

Each of our digital wardrobes is unique. By not understanding what it is and how to use it, companies are costing themselves huge productivity gains. Thorsten Stremlau, Director of the Global Large Enterprise Segment Product and Offering Strategy at Lenovo, explains how understanding the concept of the digital wardrobe can make your company more productive.

‘Digital wardrobe’ is quite a new concept. The term only started being used around the start of the agile IT movement, which was about the time that Windows 10 launched. We’ve put a lot of work into understanding the concept, because doing so can help boost business and individual productivity.

For example, we carried out market research into users’ device preferences – what they like to use, how they like to use it, what software they like to put on it, and things like that. We ran a survey with thousands of end users where we asked them to put together a scrapbook outlining the devices they use and how they use them. So we started to understand the typical applications they use every day like Facebook and Snapchat, traditional email (and which client they use), what they use to search the web, whether they use an iOS or Android phone, how they use their phone (whether they use a stylus, for example) – things like that.

We also looked more broadly at the other types of devices they use: are they the person on the plane wearing a huge pair of noise-cancelling headphones, or are they happy with the sound quality from a pair of earbuds?

This is the digital wardrobe. It’s every piece of software and hardware that makes up your digital life. It encompasses everything that’s digital, so digital cameras, your kitchen scales (if it has a screen), your blood pressure monitor, digital thermometer and so on.

As unique as a fingerprint

Amazingly, while there are only a finite number of devices and apps out there, we found that no two people have the same digital wardrobe. Not couples, twins – no one. Each person has their own unique way of organising their digital life. As such, each person’s digital wardrobe is as unique as their fingerprint.

Why is this important? Firstly, it identifies the user. Secondly, it allows us to tailor devices and services to their needs.

Helping the company

For many years, we didn’t really have the flexibility to provide the end user with the digital wardrobe they wanted. Instead, we had to shoehorn them into very tight categories. For example, do you use a large desktop or an expensive laptop? It was the same when mobile phones were introduced – do you use an ugly brick, or something slightly sexier?

Thankfully our devices have come a long way since then. But many of our corporate customers still don’t understand the concept of a digital wardrobe. And this effects their performance.

End-user productivity in the IT space hasn’t grown as much as it should, given the amount of innovation we’ve seen in the devices. We believe this is because we’re shoehorning end users into a way of using their devices that they probably don’t feel as comfortable with.

For example, look at writing. You get a very different style of writing with a stylus and tablet mimicking a pen and paper compared to typing on a PC. What’s interesting is that the medium you use determines your results. And this is true of any kind of work. If you don’t give the end user a medium that’s adaptable to the best way of them working, you don’t get as good a result. It’s not only bad workmen who should be blaming their tools.

Updating your digital wardrobe

Lenovo has invested very heavily into this changing market by introducing many different devices that adapt to the end user’s needs. If you like to use a pen, you can use one of our tablets with a stylus. But we also have different keyboard configurations, multiple screen configurations and docks. Our Yoga platform lets you convert the device from a clamshell to the tablet or stand mode.

We’re also expanding that into the phone space. If you like listening to music, you can use the JBL to achieve better sound quality – this is one of a range of detachable smartphone accessory modules called Moto Mods that let you customise your handset. For photos, there’s the Hasselblad camera add-on.

We have the flexibility within our portfolio of devices to give end users the flexibility to accommodate their individual digital wardrobe. We’re starting to see that companies that adopt a choose-your-own-device approach (which gives users a lot more flexibility) have not only higher productivity, but produce higher-quality work as well. And a lot of it is down to giving employees the flexibility they need.

All of our digital wardrobes are unique. By recognising this, and reacting to workers’ needs, companies can increase both the quality and the quantity of their output.

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