IBM And Lenovo Sign A $240 Million AI Deal

By Noah Long ● October 19, 2018

Back in 2005, IBM sold its Personal Computing Division to Lenovo Group and the two companies kept a close-knit relationship since then. Building on that relationship, IBM has announced that it has signed a $240 million multi-year agreement with Lenovo.

IBM will provide field services and remote call center solutions to enhance Lenovo’s commercial customer experience for its North America, EMEA, and Latin America markets. So when a customer connects with an agent for Lenovo’s Think-branded PCs and monitors, the agent will already know who they are talking to and the issue that they are calling about. IBM’s Virtual Assistant for Technical Support utilizes natural language capabilities and contextual recognition to personalize the conversation by asking the right questions regarding the service issues.

According to IBM’s research, over $1 trillion is spent on 265 billion customer service calls every year industry-wide. And 50% of those calls go unresolved. As a result, poor customer service is costing businesses more than $75 billion per year, which is up $13 billion since 2016.

And since consumers are now more connected than ever before, information overload has been a major issue for support agents. The support agents have to sort through a wide range of technical documentation on the spot like new product releases, machine data, service history, and client-specific instructions. The pressure to improve customer experiences while being able to fix issues quickly has been building up. Call centers have to now become faster, better, cheaper, and more predictable.

“Providing customers with leading edge technology solutions and offering great support services go hand-in-hand with the customers’ total experience,” said Lenovo SVP and COO of Intelligent Devices Jammi Tu in a statement. “Through our work with IBM, we are increasing our service capabilities through IBM’s Virtual Assistant for Technical Support, Augmented Reality and weather technology, helping us deliver the fast, personalized and consistent care customers expect from their trusted technology brand.”

Ultimately, the goal of this deal is to decrease service costs for Lenovo while growing the company’s profitability by integrating the global coverage of IBM’s Customer Engagement Centers (CEC) and field service solutions around the world. IBM’s CEC solutions will include a virtual assistant for technical support, weathering alerting technologies, and augmented reality.

The Virtual Assistant harvests and analyzes customer history and preferences. The weathering alerting technology is able to alert call center agents and field technicians about weather conditions in real-time up to 72 hours in advance based on their GPS locations. And the augmented reality service enables more than 19,000 field agents to provide a consistent client experience around the globe by enabling customers to video share the machines needing repair to IBM’s experts — who are able to virtually draw on top of the videos to explain the repair steps.


Martin Jetter / Credit: IBM.com

“Data is having an unprecedented impact on call centers with artificial intelligence taking customer service to a whole new level of personalization,” added IBM’s SVP of Global Technology Services Martin Jetter. “This global collaboration with Lenovo further strengthens our long-standing relationship, empowering every single call center and field service agent at Lenovo to deliver service excellence using the power of Watson AI.”