Home » Pre-Commerce

Category Archives: Pre-Commerce

Analysis: Michael Dell acquiring the rest 84% stake in Dell for $2.15B in cash, before becoming the next IBM, and even getting the cash back after the transaction

OR Michael Dell’s new cash skimming strategy by privatization and targeting the high-growth and fast SME/SMB (small to medium-sized) businesses with solutions worldwide which will help the adoption of Dell solutions by larger enterprises later on as well. OR how to exploit Dell’s competitive advantage of having NO legacy (“old things”/”old”) business in the enterprise market versus the established enterprise solution players like IBM, HP, Oracle et al. OR the story of leaving its traditional PC business behind, and how the explosion of consumer IT devices and consumerization of IT is playing well with this specific kind of small to large enterprises focus by Dell. OR Michael’s way of showing a fig to all stock market actors (the diversity of “analysts” included) inspired by his thinking ‘You are utterly stupid, and will remain so’. OR the huge bonus for creating the tremendous value in the last 6 years he’d lead the company again, as described in the details sections of this post, as well as earlier in the Pre-Commerce and the Consumerization of IT [Sept 10, 2011] and Thin/Zero Client and Virtual Desktop Futures [May 30, 2012] posts on this same blog. OR, in the very worst case, getting a normal evaluation (sooner or later) of his 16% of shares.

ANYWAY Michael will become hyper-rich. As a minimum think of attaining a $36B value instead of his current $3.8B for his 16% share of Dell when the company indeed becomes the next IBM. This is absolutely possible, and for no more time than another 6 years he will continue to lead Dell. See more about all that in the first section of this post titled:

Michael Dell: We are not a PC company anymore

Update: Highlights From Dell Tech Camp 2013 [DellVlog YouTube channel, Feb 12, 2013] will provide the latest and only 3 minutes long glimpse into the current state of such a “non-PC company anymore”

The event, now in its fourth year featured: * Dell’s latest technologies and solutions that address customer issues and challenges around Cloud Computing, Data Insights, Mobility and Converged Infrastructure * Speakers from Dell including Marius Haas, President of Enterprise Solutions; Aongus Hegarty, President, Dell EMEA; and Tony Parkinson, Vice President, EMEA Enterprise Solutions alongside a number of Dell solutions experts, customers and partners * Hands-on, deep-dive sessions around Dell’s latest Cloud, Storage, Mobility and Convergence solutions * Customer and partner insight on the latest enterprise technology challenges and trends * Two live-streamed Think Tank events at the event which bring together some of the industry’s principal thought leaders to discuss Converged Infrastructure and enterprise solutions for SMBs

Here is a slide copy which is speaking for itself in showing the difference:
image

Then read the second section of this post titled:

The Indian case as a proofpoint of readiness

Before those detailed background sections I should elaborate somewhat more about the founder’s cash skimming approach. Michael Dell’s classical business recipe was to collect the bills ahead of paying his suppliers. What was possible in the 90’s is not anymore. Nevertheless: Dell Push-Pull Supply Chain Strategy [Ian Johnson YouTube channel, June 11, 2012]

http://www.driveyoursuccess.com this video explains how to run Dell’s Push-Pull supply chain strategy.

Now he decided to apply the original idea to the current state of Dell’s business. This was the sole reason of his one a half year effort taking Dell private with which he succeeded 3 days ago. The official press release, certainly, has no mention of that at all, just the usual bullshit:

Dell Enters Into Agreement to Be Acquired By Michael Dell and Silver Lake [press release, Feb 5, 2012]

Mr. Dell said: “I believe this transaction will open an exciting new chapter for Dell, our customers and team members. We can deliver immediate value to stockholders, while we continue the execution of our long-term strategy and focus on delivering best-in-class solutions to our customers as a private enterprise. Dell has made solid progress executing this strategy over the past four years, but we recognize that it will still take more time, investment and patience, and I believe our efforts will be better supported by partnering with Silver Lake in our shared vision. I am committed to this journey and I have put a substantial amount of my own capital at risk together with Silver Lake, a world-class investor with an outstanding reputation. We are committed to delivering an unmatched customer experience and excited to pursue the path ahead.”

An opinion a little bit closer to the real aim:
Dell Computers In Buyout Bid By Firm’s Founder [spworldnews YouTube channel, Feb 5, 2012]

With an attached background article: Dell Heads For Radical Restructure

Dell Computers was built from scratch in a college dorm room, and now its founder launches a $24.4bn bid to make the firm private. Once-dominant US computer company Dell has unveiled a £15.5bn plan to take the firm private in a buyout by founder Michael Dell. The firm said it had signed “a definitive merger agreement” that gives shareholders $13.65 (£8.70) per share in cash – a premium of 25% over Dell’s January 11 closing share price.
“I believe this transaction will open an exciting new chapter for Dell, our customers and team members,” Mr Dell said.
The deal was unveiled with investment firm Silver Lake, and backed by a $2bn (£1.27bn) loan from Microsoft. Dell shares dropped 2.6% to $13.27 on the Nasdaq after the plan was announced. The move, which would de-list the company from stock markets, could ease some of the pressure on Dell, which is cash-rich but has been seeing profits slump.
Michael Dell Michael Dell founded the firm in his college dorm room. The Texas-based computer maker, which Mr Dell started in his college dormitory room, once topped a market capitalisation of $100bn (£63bn) as the world’s biggest PC producer.
The plan is subject to several conditions, including a vote of unaffiliated stockholders. It calls for a “go shop” period to allow shareholders to determine if there is a better offer.
“We can deliver immediate value to stockholders, while we continue the execution of our long-term strategy and focus on delivering best-in-class solutions to our customers as a private enterprise,” Mr Dell said of the plan.
Dell was a pioneer of phone-ordered, custom built PCs in Britain during the 1990s.
The company worked from facilities in the Irish Republic, Britons were able to specify their hard and software requirements before machines were delivered to their home.

But a realistic assesment I’ve found only in that source:
Here’s The Secret Private-Equity Plan For Dell by Henry Blodget [Daily Ticker on Yahoo! Finance, Feb 6, 2013] CLICK TO THE LINK AS THERE IS A VERY GOOD VIDEO RECORD OF DISCUSSION BETWEEN DAILY TICKER’S HOSTS AARON TASK AND HENRY BLODGET

Earlier, I wrote about what Dell was likely to do now that it is taking itself private.

I suggested that Michael Dell and his private-equity backers would coin money, in part by paying themselves a huge one-time dividend with the cash sitting on Dell’s balance sheet.

I also bemoaned the fact that Michael Dell had to take his company private to coin this money instead of executing his plan as a public company and sharing the loot with his current shareholders.

More broadly, I complained that too few public-company management teams (like Dell’s) have the balls to tell short-term public-market investors to take a hike and implement long-term strategic plans.

And that is indeed a bummer.

But it’s also the reality.

Most public-company management teams are so cowed by Wall Street’s short-term demands that they sacrifice the vision and cojones that enabled them to build big public companies in the first place. And then they just manage their companies from quarter to quarter while avoiding the tough, ballsy decisions that separate great companies from good ones.
Anyway, Dell has decided to go private.
So the questions are:
  • Why is Dell going private?
  • What is Dell going to do as a private company?
Earlier, I speculated about what a generic private-equity firm might do with Dell after taking it private.
I have since spoken with sources familiar with the specific Dell situation. So I have some better information.
Here’s what the sources told me:

  • Dell is going private because the company is in the middle of a 5-year transformation from “PC manufacturer” to “single-source provider of corporate cloud and security solutions” (sort of a mini-HP or mini-IBM model) and the market is giving it no credit for that transformation. The company feels it has been making good progress on its transformation, but management is worried about meeting quarterly targets and other milestones that are slowing the transformation down. And the stock just keeps dropping. So Michael Dell and Silver Lake felt there was an opportunity to be bolder and more aggressive with Dell as a private company.


  • Silver Lake and Michael Dell are borrowing about $17 billion of the $24 billion Dell purchase price ($15 billion from banks and $2 billion from Microsoft), which means they are temporarily putting up about $7 billion of equity capital. Dell has $15 billion of cash sitting in the bank. So it seems highly likely–we’ll know in 45 days, when the SEC filing appears–that Silver Lake and Dell will pay themselves a big dividend to cover their cash investment. After that point, they’ll be playing with house money. (Correct–it doesn’t suck to be in the private-equity business!).

  • The secret plan for Dell is NOT to fire thousands of people and chop the company up and sell off the parts. Sure, some folks might get fired and some divisions might get sold. But the plan is to invest in the company’s product suite, R&D, pricing*, and marketing capabilities, thus accelerating Dell’s transformation into a solutions provider. This investment will temporarily reduce the company’s free cash flow and profits, which public-market investors might (stupidly) have freaked out about. This was one of the reasons Michael Dell wanted to take the company private.

  • Dell’s plan is to focus on selling its solutions to mid-market companies (~500 employees [more precisely to companies with 215-2,000 employees, see the details in the first “Michael Dell: We are not a PC company anymore” section of my analysis]), not the gigantic Fortune 500 companies that are already well-served by IBM, HP, and other huge “solutions” providers. By providing comprehensive solutions for cloud and security to companies that are not currently well-served, Dell also hopes to increase demand for PCs at these companies–PCs that Dell will obviously provide.
The private-equity firm backing Dell, Silver Lake, has a long history of investing in troubled tech companies, and it has posted excellent returns over the years. Silver Lake’s target investment time horizon is about 5 years, which is about 100-times longer than the time horizon of the typical public-market investor. So Silver Lake is willing to depress Dell’s earnings and cash flow for a couple of the years while investing heavily to transform the company–thus, hopefully, creating a more valuable Dell over the long term.
That said, Dell’s competitor HP is not so optimistic and had these crushing statements about Dell’s turnaround:
That said, Dell’s competitor HP is not so optimistic and had these crushing statements about Dell’s turnaround:
“Dell has a very tough road ahead. The company faces an extended period of uncertainty and transition that will not be good for its customers. And with a significant debt load, Dell’s ability to invest in new products and services will be extremely limited. Leveraged buyouts tend to leave existing customers and innovation at the curb. We believe Dell’s customers will now be eager to explore alternatives, and HP plans to take full advantage of that opportunity.”
Public market investors and wimpy management teams take note: Your obsession with quarterly performance creates the opportunity for firms like Silver Lake to come along and buy your companies on the cheap, thus coining money for their private-market investors. In short, your quarterly earnings obsession is ruining companies and destroying value. So grow a pair, tell Wall Street to be patient, and focus on creating value for the long term!
* What I mean by “investing in pricing” is cutting prices on hardware and, thus, reducing profit per unit. This will hurt profit margins but make the company’s solutions more attractive to customers. And given that the focus is now on “solutions,” they’ll be looking to sell the hardware at closer to cost and then make money on add-on software and services.

In addition I will draw your attention to the following facts in the first “Michael Dell: We are not a PC company anymore” section of my analysis:

  • John Swainson President of Dell Software Group was senior advisor to Silver Lake before he came to Dell a year ago to form this most essential unit for Dell’s long-term business strategy. His earlier role was to advise on value creation activities for Silver Lake’s portfolio companies. Prior to that he was CEO of the big software company Computer Associates (now CA Technologies) for five years, and before that worked for IBM Corp for more than 26 years, including seven years as general manager of the Application Integration Middleware Division, a business he founded in 1997. During that period, he and his team developed the WebSphere family of middleware products and the Eclipse open source tools project. He also led the IBM worldwide software sales organization.
  • Marius Haas hired in August to lead the Enterprise Solutions Group (ESG) came from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR). KKR was the leader of the leveraged buyout boom of the 1980s. Its biggest LBO deal is still the biggest one in the histroy of mankind, and well documented in both a book and a film Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco. Prior to KKR Haas was senior vice president and worldwide general manager of the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Networking Division, and also served as senior vice president of Strategy and Corporate Development. Before that he worked in senior operations roles at Compaq and Intel Corporation.
  • Jai Menon became CTO of Dell’s Enterprise Solutions Group in last August but before that he was CTO and VP, Technical Strategy for IBM’s Systems and Technology Group (STG). … Jai joined IBM Research in 1982. He has made many contributions to the storage industry and to IBM in the areas of disk emulation, storage controllers, disk caching, storage networking, storage virtualization, file systems and RAID. He is one of the early RAID pioneers that helped create a technology that is now a $20B industry.

With such high level of private equity, leveraged buyout and both business and technical strategy expertise in the Executive Leadership Team, as well as top enterprise technology leadership behind that, Michael Dell is best positioned to reap both immediate and ongoing financial benefits of unprecedented scale from taking Dell private. Some more information from the business media to support my statement:

Inside Michael Dell’s World [The Wall Street Journal, Feb 5, 2013]

… The buyout would give Mr. Dell the largest stake in the company, ensuring that the 47-year-old is the one who gets to oversee any changes. … As part of the deal to go private, Mr. Dell would contribute his nearly 16% stake valued at about $3.7 billion, plus $700 million from an investment firm he controls, the people said. Microsoft would invest about $2 billion in the form of a subordinated debenture, a less-risky investment than common stock. … Microsoft isn’t expected to get board seats or governance rights in a closely held Dell, one of the people said. Instead, the companies would tighten their relationship regarding use of Microsoft’s Windows software, the person said.

Microsoft Loan Said to Help Dell While Avoiding Favorites [Bloomberg, Feb 5, 2013]

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is using a $2 billion loan to help finance Dell Inc. (DELL)’s $24.4 billion buyout to bolster one of the largest makers of computers using Windows software and fend off competition from Google Inc. and Apple Inc.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, discussed the loan with Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. Microsoft opted for a loan rather than an equity investment to avoid rankling other personal-computer makers that use Windows, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the matter isn’t public. …

… Microsoft’s investment helps to support “the long term success of the entire PC ecosystem,” the company said in a statement. Peter Wootton, a spokesman for Microsoft, declined to comment beyond the statement.

Microsoft won’t be involved in day-to-day operations, Dell Chief Financial Officer Brian Gladden said in an interview. …

Michael Dell coughs up $750 million cash to buy out Dell [Reuters, Feb 6, 2013]

Michael Dell and his investment firm are ponying up $750 million in cash toward the $24.4 billion purchase of Dell Inc to help bankroll the largest private equity-backed buyout since the financial crisis.

The Dell founder and CEO this week struck a deal to take private the company he created out of a college dorm room in 1984, partnering with private equity house Silver Lake and Microsoft Corp.

Michael Dell will contribute $500 million of his own cash, and MSDC Management – an affiliate of his investment vehicle, MSD Capital – will contribute another $250 million, according to a company filing on Wednesday.

Dell Inc also said it is targeting the repatriation of $7.4 billion of cash now parked abroad to help finance the deal. That may dismay some shareholders, as a hefty tax is usually levied on cash brought back from overseas.

The deal, which ends Dell’s rocky 24-year run on the Nasdaq just as the once-dominant PC maker struggles to revive growth, is contingent on approval by a majority of shareholders — excluding Michael Dell himself.

Several shareholders, including prominent investor Frederick “Shad” Rowe of Greenbrier Partners, have spoken out against the deal, protesting a lack of specifics as well as a potential conflict of interest with Michael Dell being the company’s single largest shareholder with a roughly 16 percent stake.

“Some shareholders are glad. But there are others who feel it’s a raw deal,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst with Sterne Agee, who has spoken with several Dell shareholders since the announcement but declined to provide further details.

The company has not given many specifics on what it would do differently as a private entity, angering some shareholders who said they needed more information to determine whether the $13.65-a-share deal price – a 25 percent premium to Dell’s stock price before buyout talks leaked in January – was adequate.

On Wednesday, an individual shareholder filed the first lawsuit, in Delaware, attempting to stop the buyout. The lawsuit – which is seeking class-action status – maintains that the $13.65 per share offered sharply underestimated the company’s long-term prospects.

By engaging in the going private transaction nowin the midst of the company’s transition from a PC vendor to full service software and enterprise solution providerthe board is allowing defendants M. Dell and Silver Lake to obtain Dell on the cheap,” read the lawsuit filed by Catherine Christner.

Dell, the world’s No. 3 personal computer maker, broke down details of the equity and debt financing secured for the buyout in Wednesday’s filing.

Silver Lake is putting up $1.4 billion, while banks including Bank of America, Barclays, Credit Suisse and RBC will provide roughly $16 billion in term loans and other forms of financing.

Wednesday’s filing also disclosed that under certain circumstances if the merger cannot be completed, Michael Dell and Silver Lake could have to pay a termination fee of up to $750 million to the company.

What Should Dell Shareholders Do? [Seeking Alpha, Feb 6, 2013]

… let’s have a look at some balance sheet items. If the company was highly leveraged, things would be different and this price could make some kind of sense given the risk. But, if we look at the numbers, at the end of last quarter Dell had $11.2 billion in cash and equivalents, a long term debt of $5 billion and a total equity of $10.1 billion. In other words, a very healthy balance sheet.

Putting things together, it’s very hard to recommend accepting the current offer. Unless you have another investment where you can put your money to work at a higher rate of return than you would by sticking with Dell (and with the safety of its balance sheet) I cannot recommend selling the shares at this price.

Of course, Michael Dell and Silver Lake know the company is worth much more, and that’s why they are offering to take the company private.

Unplugged: Why is Michael Dell buying back his company? [USA TODAY, Feb 5, 2013]

… Because the 47-year-old CEO is already a billionaire, who has had scrapes with the Securities and Exchange Commission, critics contend that he has become adept at financial engineering and is simply sticking it to current shareholders to enrich himself yet even more. (The chairman and the company settled fraud allegations with the SEC in October 2010.)

No doubt, Michael Dell is a capitalist. But I doubt his sole motivation is pure greed and a perverse joy in sticking it to shareholders, which include employees.

Yet having met and interviewed Michael Dell on a number of occasions over the past decade, I think he is far more complex than a money-grubbing tech titan without heart or soul. In fact, I think he really cares about his legacy, the company and Austin. …

MEANWHILE BELOW YOU CAN FIND A FEW “NO-CASH-SKIMMING” VIEWS OF THE PROPOSED DEAL:

Channel: Happy, Worried [CRN, Feb 5, 2013]

Solution providers see two sides to Dell’s privatization move.

The first side is the opportunity for Dell to go through the painful transformation into an enterprise solution developer. Paul Clifford (pictured), president of Davenport Group, a St. Paul-based solution provider, said Dell should be able to accelerate its enterprise transformation without the eyes of Wall Street on them. “Dell is bringing us great products and support,” Clifford said. “If they go private, I think we’ll see more good stuff.”

The second side is how Microsoft’s new relationship with Dell will impact the rest of the industry. Michael Goldstein, CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based solution provider, said such a close relationship between the two is a little scary. “Dell is Microsoft’s biggest reseller partner,” Goldstein said. “They’re hugely important. Seeing the two of them combined makes me a little nervous because we’re a smaller solution provider, and we don’t want to get lost in the mix if [the deal] does happen.”

What Will We Learn From Dell Tomorrow? [Bloomberg YouTube channel, Feb 5, 2013]

Feb. 4 (Bloomberg) — Today’s “BWest Byte” is 1, for how many more days until we find out what’s happening at Dell. Cory Johnson reports on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Dell Gets Hit Hard by Sluggish Worldwide PC Market [Bloomberg YouTube channel, Nov 16, 2012]

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) — Nicole Lapin reports on trouble at Dell. She speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Dell and HP down for the count? [CNNMoney YouTube channel, Aug 22, 2012]

Slow to find success in the realm of mobile, HP and Dell are caught in a downward slide with no apparent end in sight.


Michael Dell:

We are not a PC company anymore

Michael Dell addresses Dell’s future [published on FortuneMagazineVideo YouTube channel, Jan 16, 2013; recorded on July 17, 2012]

Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO, Dell, was interviewed by Fortune’s Andy Serwer at Brainstorm Tech in Aspen. They talked about the PC market, the enterprise, China, and Apple. He also announced a new $60M venture fund and said sales have slowed in China.

Full transcript: Michael Dell addresses Dell’s future [Fortune, July 17, 2012]
See also: Pre-Commerce and the Consumerization of IT [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, Sept 10, 2011]

A sure sign of that “not a PC company anymore” statement came recently with
Financial Reporting Change – Product and Service-based P&L by Robert L Williams [DellShares blog, Jan 10, 2013]

In 2009, we charted our course to become a leading provider of end-to-end solutions. We’ve been executing our strategy with discipline and consistency ever since, investing for growth in the data center, software and services.  Our Enterprise Solutions and Services business revenue was about $14 billion in FY08 and by Q3 FY13 we saw an annual run rate approaching $20 billion.  We now have critical mass in these businesses, and we need a financial reporting structure that supports their growth and success.  Today in an 8-K filing Dell announced in the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which begins on February 2, 2013, it will replace its current global customer segment reporting structure with the following product and services groups:
•  End User Computing (EUC), led by Jeff Clarke, vice chairman of operations and president Dell EUC, will include a wide variety of mobility, desktop, desktop virtualization, third-party software, and client-related services and peripheral products.
•  Enterprise Solutions Group (ESG), led by Marius Haas, president Dell ESG, will include servers, networking, storage, and related peripherals products.
•  Dell Services, led by Suresh Vaswani, president Dell Services, will include a broad range of IT and business services, including support and deployment services, infrastructure, cloud, and security services, and applications and business process services.
•  Dell Software Group, led by John Swainson, president Dell Software will include systems management, security and business intelligence software offerings.
Steve Felice, chief commercial officer, will continue to lead Dell’s global sales and marketing organizations.

That was already well manifested at Dell World [2012] Influencer Panel Highlights – December 11, 2012 [DellVlog YouTube channel, Dec 11, 2012]

Highlights from the Dell World Influencer Panel and Q&A with Michael Dell and Dell’s Executive Leadership Team held December 11, 2012 live from Austin, TX. Join the conversation on Twitter via #DellWorld.

The Dell wants to be more than your box provider post from The Register summarizes the above [Dec 12, 2012] as:

Solutions in hand – but supply your own drinks

… Dell is dead serious about being a “solution provider” … – and it has to be, because as we all know the margins are in software and services.

That’s why Steve Felice, Dell co-president and chief commercial officer, bragged that Dell had spent over $10bn in the past five years to acquire Perot Systems, Quest Software, Wyse Technologies, Scalent, Boomi, AppAssure, SonicWall, KACE, SecurityWorks, and a slew of others to build out its portfolio of services and software.

The executive roundtable was a way to introduce some of the new faces of Dell to customers and partners, with just about everybody but Dell, the man, and [Steve]Felice [Dell co-president and chief commercial officer], who joined Dell in 1999 from third-party tech support firm DecisionOne, and Jeff Clarke, vice chairman and co-president in charge of global operations and end user computing, being the old Dell hands.
Marius Haas, president of the cross-group Enterprise Solutions (gulp!) group, just came aboard this year after a short stint at private equity firm KKR and a long career at rival HP. John Swainson, who runs Dell’s Software Group, is a long-time IBMer who turned CA Technologies around. After the surprise resignation last week of long-time EDS executive Steve Schuckenbrock, who has been at Dell since 2007 and who has run its Services and then its Large Enterprise groups, Suresh Vaswani is the new president of the Services group and was formerly in charge of Dell’s Indian services group; before that, he was the co-CEO at Indian services giant Wipro. The consensus on the street seems to be that Schuckenbrock wants to be a CEO, and it ain’t gonna happen at Dell. (There could be some openings up at HP.)
The opening of Dell World was also a way to toss out some more statistics. Dell says that it has presence at 95 per cent of the Fortune 500, and that more than 10 million small and medium businesses rely on its solutions (gulp!) and services (okay, new rule, when Dell says services, you have to pay the person to your right $5.) Dell also has something on the order of 115,000 partners, with about 650 of them showing up at Dell World to get the inside track.
The execs were also put on the spot to answer questions, and Dell, the man, was asked about what he thought about the future of the PC business, something on the minds of both HP and Dell these days and not something that IBM is worried about much these days. (IBM is more worried about the future of systems and services, and it will have its own issues here, fear not.)
“We spend a lot of time talking about this and working and working on it together,” Dell said, referring to his collaboration with Clarke. “We’re quite optimistic about Windows 8. You’re going to hear over the next few days about a broad set of products. Think about a product like Latitude 10, which is a thin, light tablet that also docks to become a full workstation – totally secure, works with all of the other Windows things that a customer have, runs Microsoft Office, and has a USB port, and so on.
“That’s the kind of product that really excites out customers and helps address some of the challenges that exist. We think the touch experience is incredible. We have this stunning 27-inch, quad HD display with our XPS27 all-in-one. We think we are seeing a real revolution in the PC.”
Clarke was more adamant: “We still believe that the PC is still the preferred device to do work, to drive productivity, to create. I look at the long-term prospects of the PC business and I am very optimistic; 85 per cent of the world’s population has a PC penetration rate of less than 20 per cent. I look at the middle class as it grows over the next 20 years from 1.8 billion people to 4.9 billion people, and I see the opportunity there. I look at the number of small businesses that we sell to today, and the creation of small businesses continues at an unprecedented rate and serving that with PCs is still a huge opportunity for the company.”

One of the big events at Dell World on Wednesday, which Felice hinted at, would be a partnership with the Clinton Foundation, the organ of former president Bill Clinton, to help spur the growth of small businesses. (I doubt they talk about solutions much.)

The real issue, explained Dell, was moving from selling individual point products to standing up combinations of servers, storage, networking, PCs, software, and services to solve a particular problem. This is precisely what every major systems player is trying to do, and the big independent OS suppliers (Microsoft and Red Hat) as well, who treat x86 iron the same way they treat electricity: as a given and not worth much consideration or profits.

The company  issued the following press releases to clarify everything:
Dell Investment in Enterprise Solutions and Services Gives Customers Worldwide the Power to Do More [Dell press release, Dec 11, 2012], an important excerpt to add to the above

Strategy, Execution and Progress
Dell’s long-term strategy is grounded upon helping IT organizations more rapidly respond to business demands, improve efficiency and capitalize on new, standard-based technologies. Dell is successfully executing on its long-term strategy, including key acquisitions of Wyse, SonicWall and Quest Software in 2012, while growth in its Enterprise Solutions and Services businesses continues to outpace its competitors.

  • Dell’s server and networking business grew 11 percent in the 3rd quarter, representing the 12th consecutive quarter of growth.
  • Dell’s server business grew revenue 4 percent in the 3rd quarter, and was the only provider among the top three to achieve positive unit growth, while other providers lost share.
  • Dell’s storage business (Dell-branded storage) grew at twice the rate of a major competitor and continues to outpace other providers, many of which reported declining revenue.

Dell Enterprise Solutions and Services now represent one-third of the company’s revenue and half of its gross margin. These businesses, which were about $14 billion in FY08 are on an annual run-rate approaching $20 billion through the 3rd fiscal quarter, are up 4 percent from the previous year. Dell is making solid progress in executing its strategy and continues to add to capabilities valued by customers.

Dell Backs Growing Businesses With Scalable Technology Solutions, Resources and Capital to Fuel Job Creation, Economic Growth Worldwide [Dell press release, Dec 11, 2012], an important excerpt to add to the above

Dell today announced a renewed commitment to accelerate growth of small and midsize companies with scalable technology solutions, resources for entrepreneurs, and a new partnership with Clinton Global Initiative designed for next generation business founders.

Fast-growing entrepreneurial companies are an important catalyst for global economic recovery and job creation,” said Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell. “At Dell, we’re delivering agile, efficient and powerful solutions to help entrepreneurs succeed today, scale quickly and have their ventures grow as big as their dreams and ambitions.”

Dell started to communicate heavily this change about one and a half year ago as evidenced by My Take on Dell’s Solutions Strategy post by Lionel Menchaca, Chief Blogger [Direct2Dell blog, June 13, 2011]. More communication since then were given in the following posts:
My Thoughts on Dell’s Analyst Meeting by Lionel Menchaca, Chief Blogger [Direct2Dell blog, July 5, 2011]
I see a mixed data center environment in your future by Praveen Asthana [Direct2Dell blog, Dec 15, 2011]
Enterprise Solutions and Services Strength Highlight Dell’s FY2012 Results by Lionel Menchaca, Chief Blogger [Direct2Dell blog, Feb 21, 2012]
Business Intelligence for the Mid-Market by Vickie Farrell [Direct2Dell blog, Feb 27, 2012]
New Dell Appliance Makes Data Warehouses Simple and Affordable by Vickie Farrell[Direct2Dell blog, July 11, 2012]
How Dell Helped Grow Financial Grow by Scott Schram [Direct2Dell blog, May 21, 2012]

In my prior role with Dell I was part of the SMB business transformation team charged with integrating M&A acquisition solutions including KACE, Boomi, Compellent, SecureWorks and Force10 Networks into the core business. So when I moved into my new role with our Commercial Verticals organization focused on the Financial Services industry, I was anxious to observe firsthand how this newly acquired Dell IP was meeting customer needs. It didn’t take long.

Dell announces the completion of its acquisition of Make Technologies by Suresh Vaswani, Chairman–Dell India [Direct2Dell blog, May 24, 2012]
The NHS Information Strategy and Information-Driven Healthcare by Andrew Jackson [Direct2Dell blog, May 29, 2012]
Dell AppAssure takes you beyond backup by Zorian Rotenberg [Direct2Dell blog, June 12, 2012]

It’s been a little over four months since Dell acquired AppAssure, and we’ve settled right into the Dell family. Today at the Dell Storage Forum in Boston, Darren Thomas announced the first new Dell AppAssure release – Dell AppAssure 5 – designed to allow customers to achieve higher levels of scale, speed and efficiency for backups of big data sets.

Mid-size organizations can gain first-mover advantages with desktop virtualization by Brent Doncaster [Direct2Dell blog, June 13, 2012]

Watch how DVS Simplified offers a simple, easy-to-deploy and operate VDI appliance that delivers traditional desktop virtualization benefits in an all-in-one package. Learn more at:http://lt.dell.com/lt/lt.aspx?CID=823…

Start virtualizing desktops with DVS Simplified DaaS – a cloud-based solution for desktop virtualization by Janet Diaz Solutions Communications Manager, Desktop Virtualization Solutions – End User Computing at Dell [Inside Enterprise IT blog from Dell, June 22, 2012]

DVS Simplified DaaS delivers full-featured virtual desktops delivered from Dell’s state-of-the-art data centers and powered by Desktone’s industry-leading, secure, multi-tenant DaaS platform. DVS Simplified DaaS is ideal for organizations that want a cloud-based virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, simple onboarding and management (deployment takes only a few days and can include a proof of concept), a low set-up cost with monthly subscription-based pricing, and the flexibility to scale from a few seats to thousands of seats.
DVS Simplified DaaS provides organizations of all sizes – SMBs, large enterprises and public sector entities – the ability to quickly deploy a VDI solution to address a variety of business imperatives. Picture workers in industries such as healthcare, insurance, construction, etc. using different devices to connect to their desktops while in the field. Or picture a company needing to quickly provision hundreds of desktops for an incoming class of interns (and also needing to redeploy these desktops at the end of the internship program). Or think of an organization that has a few employees on a different continent but does not want to invest in data centers and IT resources there. DVS Simplified DaaS can be the right solution in each of these cases.

Knock Down the Barriers to Desktop Virtualization by Ann Newman, a technology writer, blogger and editor for Digital Online Marketing at Dell with specialties in BYOD, desktop virtualization, Windows 8 and other high-technology topics. Follow Ann on Twitter at @DellWebWoman [DellWorld 2012 blog, Oct 12, 2012]

In today’s business environments, where BYOD (bring your own device) is becoming a fact of life, desktop virtualization is becoming a must-have. Don’t let the old barriers hold you back.

Winning the data center by Paul Shaffer [Direct2Dell blog, June 18, 2012]
Dell’s Enterprise Solutions Strategy Will Drive Company’s Long-Term Growth [Dell press release, July 13, 2012]

“Through strategic acquisitions and organic growth, we are creating innovative solutions that provide more value and competitive edge for our customers,” Michael Dell, chairman and CEO, told stockholders. …
Mr. Dell and Brian Gladden, Dell CFO, outlined the steps taken by the company to establish Dell as a full-service solutions company, and how the company’s business has shifted, with enterprise solutions and services accounting for 50 percent of its gross margin in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013. Among those actions was the formation earlier this year of a Software Group to add to Dell’s enterprise solutions capability, accelerate strategic growth and further differentiate the company from competitors with standards-based, scalable and flexible Dell-owned intellectual property.
Dell is building its software portfolio in part through strategic acquisitions. The company recently announced a definitive agreement for Dell to acquire Quest Software, an award-winning IT management software provider offering a broad selection of IT solutions. The Quest acquisition is expected to be completed in Dell’s fiscal third quarter. Dell has made eight acquisitions in the last 12 months and 16 in the past two years.

Dell Software Leadership Team Event #DellSoftware by Sarah Richardson Luden [Direct2Dell blog, July 19, 2012]

Dell’s software organization leverages the strength of existing Dell software assets, as well as those obtained through organic and acquisitive growth, to better provide our customers with competitively differentiated hardware, software and services solutions. Dell recently announced its intent to acquire Quest, an IT management software provider, which extends Dell’s existing capabilities in security and systems and data management.
Dell Software will initially focus on these four core areas:

Dell CloudExpo Keynote Presentation from Kevin Hanes, Executive Director of Dell Services by Stephen Spector [#DellSolves blog, June 14, 2012] about Dell’s solution oriented approach to cloud computing to meet the challenge for any organization how to evolve, to adopt new architectures and processes that increase business agility, scalability and governance/compliance and decrease risk.
Dell Cloud Client Computing launches public beta of Project Stratus by Allison Darin [Direct2Dell blog, Aug 27, 2012]

Project Stratus is a comprehensive cloud-based management console that is geared at helping enterprises thrive in a world of “Consumerized IT” where corporate and consumer technologies intermingle. It empowers employees with the highest productivity and the best user experience, while giving IT organizations the required control to allow them to welcome employee owned devices into the enterprise. Through its unified, cloud-based console, IT administrators will be able to to securely manage user devices as well as deliver applications and services to their users across a variety of scenarios; in office, mobile and remote, corporate owned and managed, user owned and self-service.
“As the BYOD trend expands the private or public cloud access paradigm beyond PCs to include mobile devices of all types, and organizations start to adopt other consumer technologies like apps, we see IT needing the ability to rapidly adapt and embrace new end user service delivery models,” says Hector Angulo, Product Manager for Project Stratus at Dell. “Project Stratus was designed to provide this agility in a simple, secure and cost-effective package – if IT needs to manage end user devices, they can; if all they care about is managing how corporate data and apps are delivered regardless of device, it supports that too.”

Data Center Evolution by Scott Herold [Direct2Dell blog, Sept 6, 2012]
Powering the Possible in Smart Grid by David Lear, Executive Director—Sustainability [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 3, 2012]
Building a Practical Foundation for Big Data Transformation by John Igoe [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 3, 2012]
My New Role as CTO of Dell’s Enterprise Solutions Group by Jai Menon, the former CTO of IBM Systems and Technology Group [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 10, 2012]
Executing BYOD programs by Rafael Colorado Marketing Director, Desktop Virtualization Solutions [Inside Enterprise IT blog from Dell, Oct 10, 2012]

Let’s start with a common use case of an enterprise customer enabling remote and internal employees to access company resources through various devices and provide more than simple e-mail; they need access to a variety of corporate applications.
The first variable to consider, Device Management, ensures that governance and policies are applied to all end points. Dell KACE offers a practical device management solution deployed as an appliance or SaaS offering. Additionally, Dell can provide BYOD consulting for organizations that need a more customized solution.
The second variable, Secure Data, is mission critical because it safeguards the integrity of corporate information. Dell’s SonicWALL ensures secure access to intranet resources with secure SSL/VPN technology to manage encryption across all corporately-managed mobile devices. For a higher level of enhanced security Dell SecureWorks can be added to account for threat management.
The third variable, Develop and Modernize Applications, helps organizations optimize applications for deployment into BYOD environments. Dell offers AppDev services that provide image optimization and application rationalization services. With PocketCloud, Dell also offers a comprehensive application delivery solution to remotely connect to your desktop with your iOS or Android device. Here’s a quick video on PocketCloud:
The expanded Wyse PocketCloud family fuses streaming apps and data with search, file management and sharing across personal devices delivering content management from the cloud.
Finally, Infrastructure Optimization is the variable over which my team, Dell Wyse, has the most influence. Infrastructure Optimization is about providing the backend infrastructure to host and manage your desktops and applications by centralizing data and applications in the cloud or the data center. Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DVS) provides the datacenter infrastructure, including preconfigured networking equipment, storage, and Dell 12G servers to accelerate the adoption of VDI and application virtualization. DVS also offers virtual desktops in Simplified or Enterprise “as-a-service” configurations where virtual desktops are hosted and managed in the Dell Cloud. Finally, DVS offers an assortment of services to help you asses, plan, and roll-out desktop virtualization deployments.

Dell’s Desktop Virtualization Strategy from Citrix Synergy 2012 [DellTechCenter YouTube channel, June 6, 2012]: [1:10] We are the only company that can offer an appliance, a VDI appliance [(DVS) Simplified appliance]. Nobody else has that. [1:19]

Rafael Colorado from Dell talks about Dell’s Desktop Virtualization Strategy from Citrix Synergy 2012 in San Francisco.

Feeling the Energy at Synergy by Janet Diaz Solutions Communications Manager, Desktop Virtualization Solutions – End User Computing at Dell [Inside Enterprise IT blog from Dell, May 10, 2012]

After viewing a live demo of our Dell Desktop Virtualization Solutions (DVS) Simplified appliance featuring Citrix VDI in a Box software coupled with a Wyse zero client in action, or testing out our DVS Simplified Desktop as a Service (DaaS), or seeing how our Dell Virtual Labs solution is purpose- built to solve the specific IT problems in the education field; our customers came away impressed that Dell’s transformation into a solutions-focused company is gaining major traction.
As part of the DVS Simplified demo, we are also excited to be showcasing Dell’s partnerships with both Citrix and Wyse, which gives our customers a truly end to end VDI solution that is easy to buy, easy to deploy, easy to manage and easy to scale.  Dell worked closely with Citrix to develop DVS Simplified, incorporating Citrix’s VDI-in-a-Box, to deliver VDI as an applianceBy adding Wyse to the partnership, Dell can now deliver a wide array of plug-and-play, automatically managed thin clients to further extend that simplicity to the end points.  We are very excited to be demonstrating this end to end solution in our booth for all Synergy attendees to see first-hand.

What the new release of [Citrix] VDI-in-a-Box 5.2 means to you by Rafael Colorado Marketing Director, Desktop Virtualization Solutions [Inside Enterprise IT blog from Dell, Oct 18, 2012]
– see also: Accelerating desktop virtualization gains [Dell Power Solutions, 2012 Issue 2, May 16, 2012] discussing the issues which lead to the creation of Dell desktop virtualization portfolio of end-to-end solutions—available in Simplified and Enterprise segments—in order to effectively address the diversity of organizations
– see also: Thin/Zero Client and Virtual Desktop Futures [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, May 30, 2012]
BYOD: A Love Story by Ann Newman, a technology writer, blogger and editor for Digital Online Marketing at Dell with specialties in BYOD, desktop virtualization, Windows 8 and other high-technology topics. Follow Ann on Twitter at @DellWebWoman  [DellWorld 2012 blog, Oct 26, 2012]

At Dell, over 15,000 employees use their iOS®-, Android™- and Windows®-based devices at work, worldwide. The company is thriving because the BYOD strategy is built on a solid foundation of mobile device management, application modernization and end-to-end security and networking IT.

Dell Cloud Client Computing Solutions Support Citrix HDX 3D by Dan O’Farrell Director of Product Marketing, Dell Wyse [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 17, 2012]

Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager Eases Consumerization of IT and BYOD Challenges by Rami Karam Product Marketing Manager, Dell Cloud Client Computing [Direct2Dell blog, Nov 7, 2012]
Release of Dell Quickstart Data Warehouse 2000 Hits Sweet Spot for Mid Market by Matt Wolken [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 17, 2012]
Unveiling Dell’s next generation converged infrastructure solutions — Active System 800 by Ganesh Padmanabhan [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 18, 2012]
Converged Infrastructure without the Compromise: Introducing Dell Active Infrastructure and Dell Active System by Dario Zamarian [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 18, 2012]
Dell developed and acquired IP converge in Active System by Ben Tao [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 22, 2012]
Taking a more “Active” approach to delivering applications and IT services by Marc Stitt [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 25, 2012]
One Million Reasons to Celebrate – DCS [Dell Data Center Solutions] Ships its One Millionth Server by Tracy Davis, VP/ GM—Dell DCS Team [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 30, 2012]
Dell and SAP Hana, or how organizations can harness the power of in memory databases and analytics with joint solutions from Dell and SAP, by Kay Somers  discussing with Mike Lampa, Global Practice Lead for Dell Services Business Intelligence practice and Jeffrey Word, Vice President of Product Strategy at SAP on Direct2Dell blog:

Part 1, Oct 30: about in memory databases, SAP HANA and how it can dramatically alter organization responsiveness and performance … the capabilities and performance of the SAP HANA platform.

Part 2, Nov 5: the various ways to add SAP HANA to your database and analytics environment

Part 3, Nov 11: building the business case for an SAP HANA installation or migration

Dell Speeds Path to SAP HANA with New Service Offerings in Europe by Andreas Stein [Direct2Dell blog, Nov 12, 2012]
The Year of the Virtual Desktop- really! by Eric Selken [Direct2Dell blog, Oct 31, 2012]
Dell Services Introduces New Microsoft Dynamics Solution for Manufacturers by M J Gauthier [Direct2Dell blog, Nov 6, 2012]

Our manufacturing customers will benefit from the best practices Dell learned from implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX in its own manufacturing supply chain in 2010. Dell’s own implementation generated a 75% reduction in factory IT footprint, 50% reduction in server downtime and a 40% decrease in the IT cost of goods.

What you may not know about Dell SonicWALL by John van Son [Direct2Dell blog, Nov 13, 2012]
Dell Acquires Gale Technologies, a Leading Provider of Infrastructure Automation Solutions to help accelerate the momentum of Dell’s converged infrastructure family, Active Infrastructure [Dell press release, Nov 16, 2012]
Enterprise Business Momentum and Major Milestones by Jai Menon CTO of Dell’s Enterprise Solutions Group [Inside Enterprise IT blog from Dell, Dec 3, 2012]
Project RIPTide: Business Analytics meets innovation at Dell by Shree Dandekar Director BI Strategy [Direct2Dell blog, Dec 21, 2012]

Real-time analytics solution for midsized customers is enabled by Dell Boomi and real-time business intelligence capabilities

Imagine a midsized company collecting data in real time from different sources. Of course they’ll want to convert this data into meaningful insights to improve their business, also in real time. There’s a catch though, they don’t have the IT resources or, necessarily, the expertise to extract those meaningful insights, much less in real time or in plain English.
Sounds like the right kind of challenge to tackle for Dell’s incubation program.
With RIPTide, we designed a solution that can assemble relevant data sets (structured and unstructured) on-the-fly, using real-time data integration enabled by Dell Boomi and real-time business intelligence capabilities for reports, dashboards, analytics, and services for easy deployment.
And it gets even better. This solution simply scales – it can be delivered on a laptop, a server, or an enterprise class platform depending on the customer’s size and needs. A customer also has the option to start off with the Dell Quickstart Data Warehouse and then build the solution on top of it. As part of this project, we’re also exploring to offer this capability as a service for customers to use within their private cloud environment, using Dell managed services.
We wanted to help customers simplify interpretation of their data – ask a question, get an answer. What is my sales pipeline in real-time? What is my account status with a given customer? What are they saying about me in social media? What does my retail stock look like? Is my fall collection trending on Pinterest?
We put our project to task, just in time for the two major shopping days of the year – Black Friday and Cyber Monday – with Team Express, a San Antonio-based sporting goods retailer with a small IT staff responsible for maintaining their legacy SQL-based transaction system as well as reporting on daily business activities. Team Express, just like other midsized companies, is challenged with assembling data from various sources, including Salesforce.com and their legacy transaction system, to glean actionable business insights, quickly and easily.

With the RIPTide solution running on a PowerEdge R720xd 12th generation server, Team Express is now able to capture key business metrics along with new insights, including:

  • Top-performing products by region, customer, and revenue
  • Close-rate per salesperson
  • Sales team productivity
  • Opportunity and lead conversion rates
Here’s what Brian Garcia, CIO of Team Express … has to say about his experience with this project, “This solution will transform the way almost all of our departments think about how our business is behaving. Now we can see more, we can do more and we will get more with less effort.”

Dell Retail Announces Industry-Leading Solution to Help Retailers Move to the Cloud by Mike Adams [Direct2Dell blog, Jan 14, 2013]
2012 – The Channel Perspective by James Wright EMEA Channel Marketing Director at Dell Europe [Direct2Dell blog, Dec 21, 2012]

It’s almost five years since we started selling through the channel in Europe with Dell PartnerDirect, and it’s safe to say that, while the previous four years were headline years, 2012 has also been outstanding for both Dell and our partners; I want to talk about some of the great highlights that have come out of the Dell PartnerDirect program this year.  Three things really stick out for me – more partners (and more partners growing their Dell business), our continued move from pure PC sales to a far more comprehensive solutions offering for partners and customers, and a steady stream of acquisitions helping to build out our end-to-end solutions portfolio.

  • More than half of Dell’s European sales now go through indirect channels . We’ve now got over 900 Certified Partners in Western Europe. Many are seeing their Dell businesses growing by 30 per cent or more. Now, growth is nothing without volume, but this shows that you can use Dell to survive and thrive in your business despite the current economic climate.
  • We’re building far more complex, integrated solutions. Both server and networking businesses within Dell grew by 14 per cent in Q2. A third of Dell’s revenue, and over half of our profit comes from data centre solutions. In fact, we’re the only major computer vendor to increase server sales in the third quarter, according to both Gartner and IDC. We’re also seeing revenue growth year-on-year in this market. Let’s not forget about the other areas, too. Storage is a big deal for us – and the latest European event proved that it’s a big deal for the channel, too.
  • Thirdly (and this is linked to the point above), we’re acquiring organizations that give us – and our partners – significantly more scope, breadth and reach. Here’s a quick run-down for 2012. While it’s worth understanding what each business does, that is less important than understanding the bigger picture – what we are building in conjunction with partners:
    • Quest – scalable systems management, security, data protection and workplace management.
    • AppAssure – streamlined datacentre operations with backup and recovery software
    • Wyse – client cloud computing. See our earlier blog on what this means for partners here.
    • SonicWALL – network security and data protection – and one of the most recognised firewall and unified threat management brands in the business.
What of next year? If anything, it’s likely to be just as eventful for the industry as this and previous years. From my perspective, I’m looking forward to carrying on the great work we began five years ago with our partners; we’ve come an awful long way, but there are also plenty of great places we can go to. One thing I do know: it’s never going to be dull. Here’s to a fantastic, profitable 2013!

Interview Marius Haas, Dell, about its enterprise strategy [Marco van der Hoeven YouTube channel, Feb 6, 2013]

Witold Kepinski, editor in chief of Dutch IT Channel, speaks with Marius Haas, president, Enterprise Solutions, at Dell Technology Camp 2013, Amsterdam.

Marius A. Haas [Dell Executive Leadership Team]

Marius Haas serves as president, Enterprise Solutions, for Dell. In this role, he is responsible for worldwide engineering, design, development and marketing of Dell enterprise products, including servers, networking and storage systems.
Marius came to Dell in 2012 from Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. (KKR) [the leader of the leveraged buyout boom of the 1980s with its biggest LBO deal, still the biggest one in the histroy of mankind, well documented in both a book and a film Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco] where he was responsible for identifying and pursuing new investments, particularly in the technology sector, while also supporting existing portfolio companies with operational expertise. Prior to KKR, Marius was senior vice president and worldwide general manager of the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Networking Division, and also served as senior vice president of Strategy and Corporate Development. During his tenure at HP, Marius led initiatives to improve efficiency and drive growth, including the execution and integration of all acquisitions, and he also managed the company’s strategic planning process, new business incubation and strategic alliances.
Earlier in his career, Marius held a wide range of senior operations roles at Compaq and Intel Corporation. He also served as a member of the McKinsey & Company CSO Council, the Ernst & Young Corporate Development Leadership Network and as a board member of the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals.
Marius has a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in International Management from the American Graduate School of Integration Management (Thunderbird) in Glendale, Arizona.

Dell sets out enterprise solutions strategy [Tech Central, Feb 4, 2013]

New software group integrates acquisitions to offer end-to-end solutions

Dell has set out its strategy to offer end to end enterprise solutions.
At the Technology Camp 2013 in Amsterdam, Tom Kendra, vice president and general manager of the newly formed Dell Software Group, said the company was “steadily executing the strategy of becoming a full service solution provider to enterprise”.
Software is the next step in Dell’s evolution, said Kendra in a presentation. Leveraging its core strengths, Dell will provide solutions in the client, services and enterprise spaces, with an emphasis on adding value, differentiation and a focus on growth.
“Software’s intersection with our core strengths, combined with disruptive market trends, allow us to create relevant solutions for today’s, and tomorrow’s, challenges,” said Kendra.
Under the headings of data centre and cloud management, information management and mobile workforce, Dell will provide software solutions in Windows Server management, performance monitoring, virtualisation management, data protection and management, application and data integration, business analytics and intelligence, bring you own device (BYOD) and endpoint management.
The newly formed software group brings together elements from Dell’s recent acquisitions, Kace, SecureWorks, SonicWall, Quest, Gale and Wyse.
A “tough, rapidly changing market fosters transformation,” said Aongus Hegarty, president, Dell EMEA. “All these capabilities from the acquisitions are coming together to form integrated strategies.”
Hegarty said that Dell is now established as a key player in enterprise technology, as it boasts more than $1.5 billion (€1.1 billion) in software revenue, a 6,000 member software team, of which some 1,600 are engineers, with a 2 million user community from 100,000 customers.
Kendra cited an EMA Radar report that classed Boomi as a value leader for cloud integration, an NSS Labs highest overall protection award for SonicWall and 9 software Magic Quadrant appearances from Gartner.
“Customers asking for end to end solutions, right from SME to mid-market and enterprise,” said Hegarty.
Dell has clearly stated a position of open standards for its solutions. Stephen Davies, Services Solutions Group EMEA, Dell, said that its cloud offerings would be based on OpenStack. With the aim of protecting customers from vendor lock-in, the approach allows for elements of any solution to come from other vendors or providers, without any loss of capability or performance. Where a customer may have a significant investment in one area, Dell’s approach would be to have its solutions work wherever possible with existing implementations.
Dell launched two new offerings as part of integrated enterprise strategy, Active System Manager 7.0 and new workload solutions optimised for the SAP HANA platform.
Active System Manger 7.0 is based on Gale Technologies applications and extends the management capabilities of Active System beyond the physical infrastructure to the virtualised infrastructure and workloads. It will be embedded into an Active System 800 and its associated reference architecture.
Dell has said that it has certified the first of its server, storage and networking technologies in its pre-integrated systems to run SAP HANA. The systems are high-availability configurations that scale from 1 terabyte to more than 4 terabytes and are based on the same architecture found in its single-server appliances.
For full products details see page the February issue of ComputerScope, available 8 February.

What Dell Is Doing Today [VideoLifeWorld YouTube channel, Feb 6, 2013]

Dell Tech Camp 2013 – Tom Kendra VP & GM SW Group at Dell – Key Themes For What Dell Is Doing Today. Dell’s latest technologies and solutions that address customer issues and challenges around Cloud Computing, Data Insights, Mobility and Converged Infrastructure . Video By Dell’s Official Flickr Page http://www.flickr.com/photos/dellphotos/8450786­781/ creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed­.en

Dell Acquisition Strategy [DellVlog YouTube channel, Oct 25, 2012]

Dave Johnson VP of Strategy demonstrates how Dell’s recent acquisitions all fit together

Conversation with John Swainson, President of Dell’s Software Group [DellVlog YouTube channel, Oct 2, 2012]

On Friday September 28, 2012, Dell announced that we completed the acquisition of Quest Software, an award-winning IT management software provider offering a broad selection of solutions that solve the most common and most challenging IT problems. John Swainson, President of Dell’s Software Group joined us on DellShares to discuss the importance of Quest to Dell’s Software strategy. We invite you to listen to John as he provides perspective on the following: • Quest fit within Dell’s Software strategy • Synergies between Quest portfolio and existing Dell solutions • Platform nature of Quest acquisition and what that means Thanks and we look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

Dell Completes Acquisition of Quest Software by Tom Kendra [Direct2Dell blog, Sept 28, 2012]

If you haven’t already heard, I am excited to announce that Dell has completed the acquisition of Quest. This is an important acquisition for Dell Software because Quest helps extend our capabilities in systems management, security and business intelligence software, and it also strengthens our ability to bring industry-leading, differentiated, and easy to manage solutions to our customers around the globe.
With Quest, Dell will be able to deliver a broad selection of software solutions that will help simplify and solve our customers’ everyday problems and tackle their most challenging IT needs. Quest also brings with it critical mass and key talent. Quest currently has more than 100,000 customers worldwide, 5,000 partners worldwide, 1,500 sales and marketing resources, and 1,300 software engineers. As a relatively young and growing organization, these resources are invaluable to the Dell Software Group.
The acquisition of Quest is a critical step forward for Dell Software because, with Quest, Dell is better able to provide end-to-end solutions that help our customers simplify their operations, maximize workforce productivity, and deliver results faster. Quest supports heterogeneous and next-generation virtualized and cloud environments which is complementary to Dell’s design approach to develop solutions that scale with our customers’ needs. But most importantly, Quest’s software solutions and key technologies are strongly aligned with Dell’s software strategy to expand, enhance and simplify our capabilities and enterprise solutions in four focus areas: Systems Management, Security, Business Intelligence and Applications.
Quest will be joining other Dell Software assets Dell KACE, Dell SonicWALL, Boomi, Dell Cloud Business Applications and AppAssure as part of the Dell Software Group. Dell Software helps customers of every size take advantage of new technologies and address organizational challenges to grow their businesses and remain competitive. For more than a decade, Dell has been making strategic software acquisitions and partnering in the industry to support and enable the hardware and services solutions that we provide to our customers.  Our Software Group, now including Quest, will continue to extend Dell’s capabilities in software IP and total solutions offerings, and draw on the strength of Dell’s distribution capabilities and reputation to help clients in every industry achieve better business outcomes.
Please join me in welcoming Quest to Dell Software, and I look forward to the many opportunities we will have to demonstrate that Quest and Dell are truly “Better Together.”
For more information about Quest software, go to: www.dell.com/quest

Software strategy and innovation related excerpts from Cover story: Piloting innovation [Dell Power Solutions Magazine 2012 Issue 4, Dec 7, 2012] the executive Q&A by John Swainson

make the cloud more accessible
My vision for the cloud is an intelligent technology that organizations can literally just plug into without the need for excessive configuration, security measures, and other manual interventions. All of these things need to be automated and policy-based, but making this vision a reality will take a lot of invention, systems work, and integration. But, that’s the direction we need to take if cloud computing is to achieve its full potential.
Cloud environments today, in general, are far too siloed, complex, and inefficient to really deliver on their full potentialBut as we move forward in time, the cloud can become so much easier to use and so much more automated than it is today. We want to give customers the best of both worlds—on-premises access to resources when they want it and access to the public cloud when they need it—seamlessly.
security solutions
Right now, our particular focus is on securing the pieces in the middle of the security equation. How can we secure data center access through a firewall? That’s Dell SonicWALL™ software. How can we secure access to applications and databases? That’s where the Quest™ identity and access management solutions come in. How can we measure and monitor all of these parts to build confidence that security has not been breached? Dell SecureWorks provides security monitoring and risk remediation services. And finally, how can we enforce security policies on the endpoints of the data environment? Dell AppAssure™ and Dell KACE™ software address that area. Dell Software is all about making sure that the right people get access to the right data, and that the wrong people do not get access. Risk management and secure access to information are at the core of all of these solutions.
It’s a big, complicated world out there. A threat environment that once comprised casual hackers has evolved into a complex landscape of advanced persistent threats—including industrialized espionage, or cyber-espionage—in many places around the world. One important aspect of Dell’s comprehensive approach to security is the SonicWALL consulting service, which helps organizations safeguard their valuable data and protect the productivity of their workforce.
big data analytics
To help improve efficiency, the Dell Quickstart Data Warehouse Appliance provides a prepackaged solution that combines Dell PowerEdge™ 12th-generation servers, the Microsoft SQL Server® database, Dell Boomi™ cloud-based data integration software, and Dell-provided consulting and training services.
We also offer database tools that allow organizations to go back and forth between conventional data sources and open source solutions such as the Dell | Cloudera Apache Hadoop solution. Our Dell Toad™ family of products has been enhanced to support big data as well as conventional relational data management tasks. On the services side, we have created Hadoop offerings that enable organizations to gain access to the power of Hadoop without having to set it up themselves. They can deploy Hadoop in production environments quickly and transform large data sets into intelligent information. And our Dell Boomi solution makes it easy for organizations to integrate data from various sources within a single data warehouse for analysis.
And, we have only scratched the surface. We can do so many other things to make it easy for people without data science skill sets to collect and analyze data for enhanced decision making in business settings. This data analysis area is where we are going to see a lot of investment from Dell over the next couple of years.
bring-your-own-device (BYOD)
Looking ahead, the BYOD trend presents an enormous opportunity for Dell to offer additional products that manage personal and mobile devices. It also provides the software and services that help organizations simplify IT and derive added value from their systems. The cloud, mobile devices, converged infrastructure, social media—all of these trends have very positive implications for our customers if they have the tools to manage them securely. And that’s obviously where we at Dell Software come in.

More information:

Dell Targeting $5 Billion in Software Sales, Swainson Says [Bloomberg, July 20, 2012]

Dell plans to build or acquire software in areas including computer security, PC and server management, data analysis and business applications for midmarket customers, he said. … It may also compete with SAP AG (SAP) and Oracle Corp. (ORCL) in some segments of the business-applications market, said Swainson. … “Companies like IBM, HP and Dell have to provide a computing platform with the server and the software as a service,” he said. “That’s what all these acquisitions and vertical integration are about.”

Dell Outlines Big Software Ambitions [InformationWeek, July 20, 2012]

Its target buyer is the often overlooked small to medium-sized company with 215-2,000 employees, said Swainson. These companies have small IT staffs with large responsibilities. “The sweet spot for Dell is the mid-market…We want to produce a set of solutions designed for that market,” Swainson declared. … Dell will also get into business applications but it has no intention of going head to head with Oracle or SAP, two of the largest application suppliers. Both tend to address customers above the mid-market and both are key Dell business partners, he noted. … Dell faces a formidable task in training its large direct salesforce and many channel partners to add software products to the long list of Dell hardware they are already trying to sell, said Swainson. IBM spent 20 years converting itself from primarily a hardware company into a server company that also sold services and software. … To get to $5 billion, “it won’t take us 20 years, but it will take us longer than a year and half,” he noted.

Dell Power Solutions Magazine 2012 Issue 4, Dec 7, 2012

Special section: Dell Software

    • Unfolding strategic new dimensions [Jan 27, 2013] excerpts giving a brief overview of the article describing the current software portfolio:

      – The Quest™ Identity and Access Management family adds to the solid set of Dell SonicWALL™ and Dell SecureWorks assets.
      – Dell AppAssure. From data centers to the cloud, Dell AppAssure™ software is a backup solution well suited for virtual, physical, and cloud environments.
      – Dell Boomi. Organizations can deploy Dell Boomi AtomSphere™ software to connect any combination of cloud, software-as-a-service (SaaS), or applications on-premises without requiring appliances, additional software, or coding.
      – Dell Clerity Solutions provides application modernization, legacy system rehosting, and capabilities that enable Dell Services to help organizations reduce the cost of transitioning business-critical applications and data from legacy computing systems to innovative architectures—including cloud computing.
      – Dell KACE. Servers, desktops, and laptops can be managed cost-effectively with Dell KACE™ systems management appliances, which provide time-savings benefits for systems management professionals and their organizations. The Dell KACE appliance-based architecture provides easy-to-use, comprehensive, and end-to-end systems management.
      – Dell Make Technologies. Application reengineering is a key capability in the growing field of application modernization and an important area of investment for Dell Services. Dell Make Technologies offers application modernization software and services that help reduce the cost, risk, and time required to reengineer applications.
      – Dell SecureWorks provides automated malware detection and analysis with real-time protection, 24/7 monitoring and response by security experts as needed, and security consulting and intelligence to identify gaps or respond to incidents.
      – Dell SonicWALL dynamic network security and data protection enable Dell to provide comprehensive Dell next-generation firewall and unified threat management solutions as well as secure remote access, e-mail security, backup and recovery, and management and reporting. Its Global Management System (GMS) enables network administrators to centrally manage and provision thousands of security appliances across a widely distributed network.
      – Dell Wyse desktop and mobile thin clients provide low-energy, highly secure, cost-effective access to data. Dell Wyse PocketCloud™ software—a remote desktop client—provides enterprise-grade access to cloud services along with desktop and enterprise applications, and it helps extend the benefits and security of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments to mobile phones and tablets. In addition, organizational and end user–owned devices can be managed from profiles that are set up using a single, cloud-based console in Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager.
      – Dell OpenManage Essentials. Centralized monitoring of Dell servers, networking, storage, and client systems is available in Dell OpenManage™ Essentials (OME) version 1.1 software—a complimentary download from the Dell Support site. This one-to many hardware management console helps reduce the complexity of common management tasks.
    • Defending against advanced persistent threats
    • Gaining holistic insight into enterprise networks
    • Boosting virtual desktop performance with compact cloud clients
    • Business analytics: Gaining a competitive edge from the data deluge
    • Migrating to Windows 8 for heightened productivity
    • Accelerating the benefits of Windows Server 2012

BYOD Reality Check: Focusing on users keeps companies ahead of the game by Tom Kendra Vice President and General Manager, Dell Software Group [Direct2Dell blog, Jan 28, 2013]

If you are involved in the Systems Management business or follow it, you can’t help thinking about the incredible rate of change going on! Advances in Virtualization, Converged Infrastructures, Cloud Computing and an explosion in end-user devices are driving the need for a new generation of management and operations solutions. At Dell, we intend to lead in defining and delivering on that next generation of solutions.

It is impossible to discuss all of these trends and what they mean in a single article. Over the next couple of months, we will provide points of view on each. Today, let’s start with the trend that many of us actually participate in—bringing our own laptops, phones and smart devices into our work environments.  This is commonly referred to as Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD. Many companies are actively working on their BYOD strategies and we recently conducted a study to get some insight on their approaches.
The results of our recent global BYOD survey confirm what we have long suspected: organizations that build their BYOD strategies around the users realize a higher sustainable business benefit than those that focus their strategies solely on devices, or are slow to adopt BYOD at all. Survey responses indicate that three-quarters of organizations deploying a mature, user-centric approach to BYOD have seen improvements in employee productivity, customer response times and work processes, giving them a secure competitive advantage over those that don’t.
We weren’t surprised by this. We know that early on, our customers’ first reaction to employee requests to use their own devices for work produced a scramble to figure out how to manage all those devices. Security was, and still is, of paramount importance. Over time, though, as their BYOD strategies matured, some IT organizations began to realize that by focusing on the users, they could respond quicker to the changing demands of the organization. They didn’t have to address those changes on every smartphone, tablet, laptop and any other device their employees bring to work, and, by focusing their BYOD strategy on managing user identities, they could resolve their concerns about security and other issues like access rights and data leakage, and still give employees everything they need to do their jobs.
Our survey polled almost 1,500 IT decision-makers across the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, Singapore, India and the Beijing region. The results showed that more than 70 percent of those companies have realized benefits to their corporate bottom lines. Even more significantly, 59 percent say that without BYOD, they would be at a competitive disadvantage. Two-thirds of the companies surveyed said the only way BYOD can deliver significant benefits is if each user’s specific rights and needs are understood. Among respondents that both encourage BYOD and deploy a mature, user-centric strategy, this number jumped to three-quarters. They also reported that BYOD provides their employees the benefits of more flexible working hours, and increases morale and provides better opportunities for teamwork and collaboration. Overall, survey respondents with a user-centric BYOD strategy reported significant, positive improvements in data management and security, in addition to increased employee productivity and customer satisfaction.
The survey results have confirmed for us ─ without a doubt ─ that organizations still trying to address BYOD by managing devices, or that have been slow to adopt BOYD at all, risk competitive disadvantage. The highest competitive edge, in terms of the increased business value gained from greater efficiency, productivity and customer satisfaction, goes to those embracing user-centric BYOD.
We invite you to explore the key findings of Dell’s survey in our whitepaper, and if you want to “see” how this data reinforces our perspective on the importance of a user-centric management strategy for BYOD, take a look at our new infographic (Note: click on the image below to see a larger version of it, or you can download a copy of the PDF here).

image

Dell Names John Swainson President of New Software Group [Dell press release, Feb 2, 2012]

  • Software Group created to enhance solutions capabilities
  • Expanded software focus will extend Dell ability to improve customers’ productivity
Dell today announced the appointment of John Swainson to serve as President, Software Group, effective March 5, 2012. Mr. Swainson will report to Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell.

The Software Group will build on Dell’s software capabilities and provide greater innovation and organizational support to create a more competitive position in delivering end-to-end IT solutions to customers. The organization will add to Dell’s enterprise solutions capability, accelerate profitable growth and further differentiate the company from competitors by increasing its solutions portfolio with Dell-owned intellectual property.

“John is an outstanding leader with an unparalleled record of achievement,” said Mr. Dell. “He brings to Dell extensive experience in leading and growing software businesses, unique expertise in managing complex software organizations, and a passion for listening to and serving customers. I look forward to working with John as he expands our enterprise solutions and builds on our software capabilities.”
“This is an exciting time to join Dell,” said Mr. Swainson. “As a leading IT solutions provider, Dell brings key assets and advantages to the software sector, including a strong global brand, a diverse global customer base and customer loyalty that creates opportunities to expand relationships with software.”

The Software Group will bolster Dell’s ability to execute in several strategic areas critical to its customers. The combination of strong internal development capabilities in hardware, software and services gives Dell the ability to serve the largest possible group of customers within the $3 trillion technology industry.

“The addition of software, both within the Software Group and across all of Dell, will help catalyze our transformation,” Mr. Dell said. “As software will be a part of all of our products and services, the group’s success will be largely be measured by the success of Dell overall.”

Most recently, Mr. Swainson was senior advisor to Silver Lake, a global private equity firm. Prior to Silver Lake, he was CEO and director of CA, Inc. from early 2005 through 2009. Under his leadership at CA, the company significantly increased customer satisfaction, its operating margins, and revenue.

Prior to CA, John worked for IBM Corp for more than 26 years, holding various management positions in the U.S. and Canada, including seven years as general manager of the Application Integration Middleware Division, a business he founded in 1997. During that period, he and his team developed the WebSphere family of middleware products and the Eclipse open source tools project. He also led the IBM worldwide software sales organization, and held numerous senior leadership roles in engineering, marketing and sales management.
Mr. Swainson holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of British Columbia, Canada.

John Swainson [Forbes profile, Aug 10, 2010]

… Mr. Swainson is also a Senior Advisor to Silver Lake Partners, a global private equity firm, which he joined in June, 2010. Mr. Swainson advises Silver Lake’s portfolio companies on value creation activities. …


The Indian case as a proofpoint of readiness 

‘Software’s becoming key to our biz, and so is Bangalore’ [The Times of India, Jan 9, 2013]

Marius Haas President, enterprise solutions, Dell
As Dell works to transform itself into an enterprise solutions and services company, Marius Haas has a pivotal role. He heads the $63-billion company’s enterprise solutions business. He joined Dell last year from investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Prior to that, he was senior VP in Hewlett-Packard. Haas was recently in India, where Dell has a quarter of its 1.1 lakh employees, and spoke exclusively to TOI.
How important is the India enterprise market for Dell?
The top ten markets in the world represent 70% of the total spend in the enterprise space for the things that we do. Out of the top ten markets, three markets represent 60% of the incremental spend over the next three years. And those three are India, China, and the US. So the India market is very, very important to us. You can imagine that we are gonna be focused quite a bit on what we can do for this market.
What segments of industry do you see demand coming from?
In India I think 80% of the growth comes in customers that are 500 employees or less. So clearly we need a small business led market strategy, and for the solutions we create. You will see us with solutions that bring together server, storage, networking in a very scalable way, so that you buy what you need, at the scale that you need, at the price points that you need. They are pre-integrated, pre-configured, and designed to run specific workloads. For small businesses, it will save a lot bother in trying to put together systems from different components.
Several IT vendors today talk of pre-integrated stacks. Do you see customers opting for such stacks?
The estimate is that 30% of the enterprise purchases in 2016 will be with a systems view (pre-integrated, pre-configured stacks). There will be cannibalization of the traditional silo selling mode – of buying servers, storage, networking separately. All of a sudden a big part of how people are thinking is, I want to buy the cloud solution that enables me to run application X, Y and Z. So we recently announced our Active Systems infrastructure family that brings together server, storage, networking all in one chassis with one common management capability. It requires 75% fewer steps from the time you receive it to the time you are actually running workloads. We have optimized all components to work together for specific workloads in such a way that it generates 45% better performance per watt than what’s out there from the competition. Saves money for our customers.
Is your India R&D contributing to these systems?
Clearly if you are going to go towards a more systems view, there will be a lot more focus on software. Software provides the value add to servers, storage and networking coming together. Our Bangalore team has capabilities in servers and specifically around software. A big part of the management capabilities built into the system is done by a team here in India. The skill sets and capabilities in India are part of the core competency that we need today. Indeed, one of every four of our servers sold worldwide is sold with work done in Bangalore. And that’s what gives us the confidence to do more here.

SME Channels : Ajay Kaul, Head, GCC Dell India talking about the company’s growth strategy [smechannels YouTube channel, Feb 6, 2013]

Watch Ajay Kaul, Head, GCC Dell India talking about the company’s growth strategy … interview taken by Sanjay Mohapatra, Editor, SME Channels

+ [8:39] I believe Dell is moving to the services business …
+ [10:38] How would you help partners create their own brands?
+ [12:20] How fast are you in integrating all the products and go to market?
+ [13:58] How do you engage your finance arm to enable the partners?
+ [16:30] What is your strategy around cloud computing for the partners?
+ [17:36] What is your investment roadmap in terms of technology for this year?

Dell’s 7 strategies to stay top of mind for channel partners By Ajay Kaul [The DQ Week, Feb 5, 2013]

What are the strategies that the companies can adopt to ensure that they keep their channel partner programs alive and thriving?
Putting together an effective channel partnership program to take the company’s products and services can be just as challenging as rewarding. A good channel partner program does not end with identifying and enrolling like-minded and trustworthy resellers. It goes on to nurture and nourish these relationships through a host of incentives, training initiatives and many long-term measures.
Those who recognize the economies of scale that such programs bring are also aware of how vital it is to stay top of mind at all times. In order to leverage the considerable boost that these can bring to revenues and sales, companies need to ensure that their resellers acknowledge them as a priority over the competition. This is easier said than done. Channel partners sell what they know best and in today’s competitive landscape, where resellers have the choice of dozens of brands, it becomes imperative to stay top of mind at all times.
What strategies can companies adopt to ensure that they keep their channel partner programs alive and thriving? While most dealers and distributors will always be more attracted to methods that help them boost margins; they are also enthusiastic about measures that will help them address their challenges of training and retention of sales staff, competition, product and service expertise or growing consumer loyalty.

Here are seven strategies from Dell that can help ensure a win-win environment for both reseller and your company:

Invest in your channel partner’s success: Channel partners need to know that they are an important part of your company strategy and they need to feel the benefits of their association with you, through better margins, training and other initiatives that create success opportunities for them.
Focus on their profitability and they will focus on yours: The conditions you create for your partners needs to be win-win for both sides. Last year, Dell announced a new GCC (Global Commercial Channel) structure, which is a single point of contact for partners, with an aim to increase productivity and improve time cycles and enable more customized programs for partners support. The new structure protects partner profitability by bringing consistent pricing across different Dell commercial businesses and offers the partners growth opportunities with solution centric offerings and a broader end customer base.
Provide Product Support: The more your partners know of your products and services the easier they will find it to sell. Partners who have access to information and the means to understand your company offerings are more likely to push your products with their customers. Structured programs to boost product knowledge and bring to the forefront product and service USPs will equip partners with the right knowledge to sell your products.
Continuous education programs for channel partners: Channel partners need to be constantly reminded about your product or service. What better way than through education programs? Dell offers over 100,000 training sessions a year to all partners globally and Dell’s Engineers Club further invests in the development of individual engineers and partners by bringing together technical experts and pre-sales and post-sales engineers across the IT industry to network, exchange ideas, and share industry trends and best practices with the channel partners.
Listen to your partners: They can keep you in-tune with the pulse of the market. Structured listening programs will give partners a platform to voice recommendations and act as an additional source of market information.
Incentivise your partners: Create exciting incentives for sales, profits, rewards & recognition. Dell’s PartnerDirect program features a structure which rewards certification and training, including new rebates for premier partners, expanded deal registration terms, financial incentives, and marketing and technical assistance. Dell has 115,000 partners globally, in its highly successful PartnerDirect model. Dell has also doubled its channel sales force and has added more enterprise specialists enabling and supporting the partners to address customer needs and optimally provide solutions within limited IT budgets.
Make sure your program is high visibility and high impact: Don’t forget that your competition may be wooing your partners away from you. Your partner program needs to be more visible, more impactful and needs to give your partners what they need to sell for you.
A satisfied channel partner will push your brand with their customers, protect your margins and will also be more accommodating to your needs. Needless to say, a poor channel relations strategy will have just the opposite impact on your company margins and sales.

Dell GCC Engineers’ Club Now in India [SME Channels, Jan 11, 2013]

To build on existing GCC initiatives to strengthen and showcase its commitment to its partner community
Dell’s Global Commercial Channel (GCC) has launched the Dell Engineers Club in India, as part of their long-term commitment to channel partners in the country. The platform will enable technical experts across the IT industry to network, exchange ideas, and share industry trends and best practices.
This club will also help train channel partners and their engineers to be knowledgeable in Dell’s advanced server, storage, security, networking and cloud solutions, announced the company’s press release.
The company further announced that Dell’s long term aim is to qualify its partners to become not just the solutions provider but to be considered IT consultants for their end-customers. Dell believes in empowering their customers with the ‘Power to do more’, and therefore aims to create and offer real solutions with the intention of making technology smarter, more effective, and in service of its end-customers.
Ajay Kaul, Director & GM (Global Commercial Channel), Dell India, said, “Dell’s GCC business is very committed to the Indian market and the Engineers Club aims to strengthen the enterprise knowledge of our partner community, helping them become consultants for their end-customers.”
Dell offers over 100,000 training sessions a year to all partners globally and the Dell’s Engineers Club will further build on this initiative to invest in the development of individual engineers and partners.
Dell’s Global Commercial Channel (GCC) division retains around 1700 commercial relationships in India. The division takes care of programs and policies relevant to channels, which cover all types of business entities such as public companies and large-/medium-sized companies.

See also:
Dell Global Commercial Channel Launches Dell Engineers Club in India [Dell India press release on BusinessWire India, Jan 10, 2013]
After China, Dell introduces Engineers Club in India [The DQ Week, Jan 10, 2013] from which the following excerpt adds to the above important information:

Ajay Kaul, director and GM, global commercial channel, Dell India, informed, “This program has been extended by Dell to the Indian market to cater to the market potential in India and we feel it is important for us to bring the Indian channel partners at par with their global counterparts. As a start, the Dell’s Engineers Club is by invitation only. Partners with a certain level of certification already attained from us through the Partner Direct program will be sent an invitation to join this club. In that invitation, we will include details on where and how to sign up. Once their registration is approved, they will have access to all the programs and activities under this initiative. At the start of the program, we will be looking a limited number from the top 8 and will expand the program to more partners from the top 11 cities by the end of the month.”
With the recent acquisitions of companies like Quest Software, SonicWALL and Wyse, Dell has been able to add extensively to its solutions portfolio with leading management, security, virtualization and cloud capabilities. Hence, the focus on these enterprise solutions and services creates tremendous opportunity for its channel partners and therefore the necessity to ensure that partners receive the required training to help them understand the extended portfolio of solutions and services and provide customers with the right solutions and advice. The Dell Engineers Club is designed to provide maximum training about datacenter solutions so that the partners are better informed and can rise up to becoming IT consultants to the end-customers rather than just being a solutions provider.
“Our channel partners play a significant role in our business, 25 to 50 percent of our commercial business, depending on country to country. In some countries, it’s 100 percent and we see it growing further. India is a very important market as far as our partner community is concerned. We engage with our partners in this region at the highest level ensuring that the programs and policies designed are favorable to their benefits which leads to their overall growth,” said Kaul.

See also:
DELL Partners with HCL Infosystems for Distribution of Enterprise Products [HCL Infosystems Ltd. press release on BusinessWire India, Jan 10, 2013]

    • DELL enters into a strategic partnership with Digilife Distribution and Marketing Services (DDMS), distribution arm of HCL Infosystems
    • DELL takes the next leap in enhancing its commercial and enterprise solutions offering through this new distribution partnership and which is a further expansion of Dell’s PartnerDirect program which has developed a significant amount of the commercial channel partners in India
    • Partnership to target Mid-Market customers

Dell’s Global Commercial Channel (GCC) division retains around 19,000 commercial partners in the Asia Pacific region. The division takes care of programs and policies relevant to channels, which cover all types of business entities such as public companies and large-/medium-sized companies. In India, Dell currently engages with 1700 commercial channel partners, and this agreement will further strengthen the reach of its enterprise solutions to key markets.

The partnership will enable DDMS to supply the complete range of Dell Enterprise Products and Services. HCL‘s DDMS will help boost the growth of Dell, through the distribution providers in the market. HCL Infosystems widespread network of distributors will further ensure a robust funnel to Dell products and services.
In the past two years, Dell has made 15 strategic acquisitions to enhance its capabilities as an end to end solutions provider and has carefully aligned its channel program with the acquisitions it makes. To enhance Dell’s security capabilities, the company recently acquired SonicWALL, Inc. Having an immense focus on the distribution of its products and its channel partners, Dell has offered SonicWALL’s existing channel partners, an opportunity to join the company’s current PartnerDirect program, which will enable them to preserve the investments made with SonicWALL. Also, in order to offer best to the channel partner community the company will take the best of SonicWALL channel programs and model and combine it with Dell’s PartnerDirect program. This move has not only provided the best for the channel partners but also Dell has expanded its own channel team’s customer relationships by further enabling its existing partners to sell SonicWALL solutions.

Ajay Kaul to head Dell’s Global Commercial Channel biz in India [exchange4media News Service, Nov 8, 2012]

Dell India has announced that Ajay Kaul, Director & General Manager, will lead the Global Commercial Channel (GCC) business for Dell in India. Kaul’s focus as business leader will be to oversee the expansion of Dell’s partner community and its growth in the upcountry markets. As the GCC Business Head, Kaul will also focus on strengthening the company’s relations with its partner community.
During his seven-year tenure at Dell India, Kaul was Director – Sales for the Public, Education and Healthcare business from February 2009 to August 2012 in the South & West Region across Central / State Government, PSU, defense and covering all products of Dell for revenue, margin and market share growth. As the Regional Enterprise Manager from 2007 to 2009, he headed the pre-sales team and managed the servers and storage business in North and East region across large enterprises and government segment. Kaul had joined Dell in May 2005 and managed key global accounts to grow revenue and profitability covering all products.
Dell’s Global Commercial Channel (GCC) division was created in early 2011 with an aim to be a single contact point for its commercial channel partners, thereby leading to higher productivity and improved time cycles and enabling more customised programmes to support the partners in the market. The GCC team is responsible for designing and implementing profitable schemes and policies for Dell’s channel partners and collecting and using channel feedback to execute best structures for its channel partners.
Dell currently engages with 1,700 commercial channel partners in India, which cover all types of business entities such as public companies and large-/medium-sized companies.

Dell’s position on the Indian market two years ago, and the approach taken by the company to achieve that is well described in How Dell conquered India [CNNMoney, Feb 10, 2011] in the end of which the summary of the position is given as:

For Dell, India has emerged as a local and global service delivery hub. It is the only market outside the U.S. with all business functions—customer care, financial services, manufacturing, R&D, and analytical services—operational at the local level and giving global support. “We evaluated market trends and growth potential, enabling us to invest ahead of the curve in India, resulting in our phenomenal growth,” says Midha. It is a growth story that resonates around the world.

Dell India has made not only big progress relative to that position but in the enterprise business as well. See CIO CHOICE 2013 Awards Recognizes Dell for its Outstanding Performance in Server, Storage and Data Center [Dell India press release on BusinessWire India, Feb 4, 2013]

Dell’s commitment to addressing CIO needs with their best in class technology and customer commitment wins them accolades

Bangalore, Karnataka, India, Monday, February 04, 2013 (Business Wire India)
Dell India has been awarded the CIO CHOICE 2013 award for their solutions in Server, Storage – Hardware, Data Centre Consultant and Data Centre Transformation Services categories. The CIO Choice Awards is a B2B platform positioned to recognize and honour products, services and solutions on the back of stated preferences of CIOs and ICT decision makers. These awards demonstrate Dell’s “best-in-class” ability and commitment to meeting CIOs evolving needs in today’s dynamic business environment.
The process for the “CIO CHOICE award” is conducted via an independent advisory panel of eminent CIOs and an independent survey voting from across the country with CIOs and ICT decision makers.
Sameer Garde, President and MD, India Commercial Business, said “Dell has been investing in its enterprise capabilities and building solutions that address the business goals of customers. Being honoured by the CIO Choice award so early in our transformation into an end-to-end solution provider is truly a cherished achievement and a testimony to the efforts of the Dell India team. It shows that our open, scalable and affordable solutions have resonated well with customers and that we are well on our way to becoming the preferred choice for enterprise solutions.”
Commenting on Dell’s success in the enterprise space Venu Reddy, Research Director IDC India said, “The infrastructure market has been showing some positive sights in the current marketplace. This is due to some segment specific traction and focus by key vendors like Dell. In the server market the stabilization and growth is driven by key industries like Finance & Insurance, Distribution, and Manufacturing which have driven a 12% growth Year-on-Year for the 1st 3 quarters of 2012. While in the storage market the additional momentum has come from mid-size organizations which have started investing in key infrastructure that is helping them drive faster growth and better ROI.”
With the strongest ever enterprise product line up, Dell today is innovating and expanding its enterprise offerings to customers. Moving out of their legacy systems is one of the biggest challenges most Indian CIO’s are faced with. Dell works closely with customers to help them move out of their existing applications to newer platforms without hurting their IT budgets.
“Dell has been our partner in data centre management and has helped us focus our resources on our business and customers instead worrying about our IT infrastructure. Dell’s solutions in storage, servers and data centre bring more flexibility, resilience and optimize security and costs while lowering downtime. We would like to congratulate Dell on winning the CIO award, which is a demonstration of Dell’s ability to understand and deliver on CIO needs in these changing markets.”Rinosh Jacob Kurian, Enterprise Architect, UST Global
“In today’s always-on marketplace and turbulent business environment, a partner like Dell is truly an asset. Dell helps us manage our datacenter and server and storage requirements to deliver better business results and market success. Over the past years of our association with Dell, they have demonstrated a strategic insight into the emerging global business scenario and have been instrumental in helping our IT department gear up to meet these challenges. Dell is truly deserving of the CIO Choice award, and we extend our congratulations and best wishes to the team at Dell.”Subodh Dubey, Group CIO, Usha International.

BYOD trends vs. Mobile enterprise platform trends

With the literal explosion of mobile computing devices there is a huge challenge both on the enterprise computing vendor and customer sides. The easiest way of looking at those challenges is analyzing the so called BYOD (Bring your own device) and mobile enterprise platforms trends on the market where customers and suppliers meet each other.

Note as well that these are all parts of a bigger trend, the so-called “consumerization of IT” which I already covered from an overall leading vendor point of view in the Pre-Commerce and the Consumerization of IT [Sept 10, 201] post on this site. Please read that before looking at the current trends discussed here in the below detailed sections. Then I will recommend to read The Changing Of The Enterprise Guard [TechCrunch, Jan 19th, 2013] article by the CEO of Box.com, the most successfull rising star in the enterprise IT vendor space. Even the ex MS leader Steven Sinofsky was recommending it in his Twitter meassage as:

Interesting thoughts on enterprise computing http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/19/the-changing-of-the-enterprise-guard/ … from Aaron @levie

Note that the BYOD trend I will present mostly through the Middle-East area where to solve the BYOD issue properly for the true enterprise space is the most pressing one in the world.


BYOD trends

Bring your own device [Wikipedia article, started on Jan 1, 2012]

History

BYOD first entered in 2009 courtesy of Intel when it recognized an increasing tendency among its employees to bring their own devices to work and connect them to the corporate network.[5] However, it took until early 2011 before the term achieved any real prominence when IT services provider Unisys and software vendor Citrix Systems started to share their perceptions of this emergent trend.

In 2012 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission adopted a BYOD policy, but many employees continued to use their government-issued BlackBerrys because of concerns about billing, and the lack of alternative devices.[6]

Issues

BYOD has resulted in data breaches.[citation needed] For example, if an employee uses a smartphone to access the company network and then loses that phone, any unsecured data stored on the phone could potentially be retrieved by untrusted parties.[7]

It is important to consider damage liability issues when considering BYOD. If an employee brings their personal device to work, and it is physically damaged through no fault of their own it is unclear whether the company is responsible for repair or replacement.[citation needed]

Pros

Business

A business that adopts a BYOD policy allows itself to save money on high-priced devices that it would normally be required to purchase for their employees. Employees may take better care of devices that they view as their own property.[citation needed]Companies can take advantage of newer technology faster.[citation needed]

Employees

Employees who work for a business with a BYOD policy are able to decide on the technology that they wish to use for work rather than being assigned a company device. This is thought to improve morale and productivity.[8] Exclusive control of features is given to the employee.

Cons

Business

Company information will often not be as secure as it would be on a device exclusively controlled by the company.[citation needed] (Security professionals have termed it ‘Bring Your Own Danger‘ and ‘Bring Your Own Disaster‘.[9]) The company may have to pay for employee devices’ phone service, which they use outside company time. BYOD is an extreme case of the end node problem.
Employees

Due to security issues, the employees often do not have true full control over their devices[citation needed], as the company they work for would need to ensure that proprietary and private information is secure at all times. It is an out-of-pocket expense for the employees. They would be responsible for repairs if their devices were damaged or broken at work.[citation needed]

Businesses that fall under compliancy rules such as PCI or HIPAA must still comply when using BYOD.[citation needed]

Prevalence

The Middle East was reported to have one of the highest adoption rates of the practice worldwide in 2012.[10]

[10] El Ajou, Nadeen (24 September 2012). “Bring Your Own Device trend is ICT industry’s hottest talking point at GITEX Technology Week”. AMEinfo.com. Retrieved 26 September 2012.

Frost & Sullivan: Consumerisation of Smart Phones and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are the biggest trends driving the Network Security Market in the Middle East [Frost & Sullivan press release, Nov 12, 2012]

Dubai, the U.A.E., 21 November, 2012 – With an increase in the number of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), information security risks are becoming a major concern for organisations globally. Enterprises are swiftly adopting and deploying applications and new services to combat the same. In their quest to obtain high levels of security assurance and develop advanced intelligence technologies, organisations in the Middle East are increasingly adopting methods such as virtualisation and cloud computing. Over the past few years, this has led to increased Government investment in information and communication technology (ICT)-related projects in the Middle East and this is expected to proliferate further in future. To address these threats to enterprise security and brainstorm best-in-class Enterprise Security Solutions and Strategies, Frost & Sullivan convened the best minds in enterprise security at its Middle East Enterprise Security Summit 2012 on November 21, at Habtoor Grand Beach Resort, Dubai, U.A.E.

Held for the first time in the Middle East, the Summit was attended by CIOs, CISOs, CTOs, Vice Presidents, General Managers, Network Managers, Enterprise Security Architects, Internet Security Architects, Compliance Officers, and Department Heads from across a variety of industry sectors such as Banking, Finance & Insurance (BFSI); Telecom; IT; Manufacturing; Government; Education; Healthcare; Media and Entertainment; Retail; and Automotive and Logistics.

According to Frost & Sullivan, consumerisation of smart phones and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are the biggest trends driving network security issues in the Middle East today. The network security market is in a high-growth stage. Frost & Sullivan anticipates that technology convergence, regulatory compliance, and continuous growth of network infrastructure will continue to drive up sales for security suppliers in the Middle East during the period 2012-2018.

Frost & Sullivan’s Middle East Enterprise Security Summit 2012 Summit began with an inaugural address by Andy Baul-Lewis, Director, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan, describing the prevalent enterprise security landscape in the Middle East. “Building security for electronic assets is one of the most critical tasks facing organisations today. In a converged world, where the threats of each system are multiplied; getting advice, sharing best practice, and talking to partners is a vital part of the construction process. This is what Frost & Sullivan endeavours to provide through this interactive Summit,” stated Mr Baul-Lewis at the Summit.

The Summit included in-depth discussions and case studies on enterprise security management. The first of these was, ‘The Evolving Role of a Chief Information Security Officer’ by Roshan Daluwakgoda, Senior Director – Security Strategy Planning Risk Assessment and DR at Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Company, du, Dubai, the U.A.E. This was followed by a thought-provoking presentation on ‘Information Security Management – When the Going Gets Tough,’ by Kamran Ahsan, Head of Information Security, Injazat Data Systems, the U.A.E. Bashar Bashaireh, Regional Director, the Middle East, Fortinet, gave a presentation ‘How to Make your Security Aware in a BYOD World’. Thameem Rizvon, IT Director, Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group LLC (KOJ) presented, ‘Learn from your Peers: Security Implementation in a Retail Environment’. The session on Secure the Cloud,’ by Joe So, VP Business Sales, Huawei;was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Security Convergence and its Impact on Business.’

Speaking on the occasion, Kamran Ahsan stated, “Information security is increasingly emerging as a critical concern in today’s modern business environment. This trend is very much evident in the Middle East, where enterprises have experienced information-related threats such as infiltration, data leakage, and cyber warfare among others. Injazat Data Systems will highlight how enterprises can proactively address these challenges and mitigate risks associated with business assets and services of enterprises. Moreover, with the best minds in enterprise security attending this Event, we expect to have an in-depth discussion of new trends and developments in information security in the Middle East.”

Sharing his views on the Summit, Bashar Bashaireh said, “Information Technology has become central in driving the business processes of enterprises. However, as trends such as mobility, cloud computing, and BYOD are fast gaining momentum in the U.A.E., helping drive business profit and innovation; they are also bringing forth new challenges to IT security. Organisations in the U.A.E. should act now to regain control of their IT infrastructure by strongly securing their network and applying granular control over users, devices, and applications. The Summit organised by Frost & Sullivan is a great platform for us to share with end customers our insights on the new approach aimed towards IT security.”

Talking about Securing the Cloud, Dong Wu, Vice President, Huawei Enterprise Middle East said, “As organisations roll out cloud-based models into their business infrastructure, the issue of security becomes an ever increasing concern.  The Middle East Enterprise Security Summit is a way for Huawei and other industry leaders to come together and discuss how businesses can be better secured and protected from the fast-evolving cyber threats that exist today. At the summit, we look forward to sharing our insights on how organisations can improve their planning processes before making their move into the cloud.”

The Summit was supported by Injazat as Platinum Partner, while Fortinet and Huawei were the Event’s Silver Partners. Telecom Review, Teknotel and Connect-World Magazine supported the Summit as Media Partners; with Tech Channel MEA as the Online Partner for the event.

If you are interested to know more about insights shared at the Middle East Enterprise Security Summit 2012 then send an e-mail to Tanu Chopra/Deepshri Iyer, Corporate Communications, at tanu.chopra@frost.com/deepshrii@frost.com, with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website, and country.

For more information on the Summit, please visit: http://www.frost.com/EnterpriseSecurityMiddleEast

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants.

Our “Growth Partnership” supports clients by addressing these opportunities and incorporating two key elements driving visionary innovation: The Integrated Value Proposition and The Partnership Infrastructure.

  • The Integrated Value Proposition provides support to our clients throughout all phases of their journey to visionary innovation including research, analysis, strategy, vision, innovation, and implementation.
  • The Partnership Infrastructure is entirely unique as it constructs the foundation upon which visionary innovation becomes possible. This includes our 360-degree research, comprehensive industry coverage, career best practices, as well as our global footprint of more than 40 offices.

For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector, and the investment community. Is your organisation prepared for the next profound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitive intensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics, and emerging economies?

Mobile application management [Wikipedia article, started on Oct 17, 2011]

Mobile Application Management (MAM) describes software and services responsible for provisioning and controlling access to internally developed and commercially available mobile apps used in business settings on both company-provided and “bring your own” smartphones and tablet computers.

Mobile application management differs from Mobile device management (MDM) in the degree of control that it has over the managed device. As the names suggest; MAM focuses on application management, but stop short of managing the entire device. MDM solutions manage the down to device firmware and configuration settings and can include management of all applications and application data.[1]

History

Enterprise mobile application management has been driven by the widespread adoption and use of mobile devices in business settings. In 2010 IDC reported that smartphone use in the workplace will double between 2009 and 2014.[2]

The BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) phenomenon is a factor behind mobile application management, with personal PC, smartphone and tablet use in business settings (vs. business-owned devices) rising from 31 percent in 2010 to 41 percent in 2011.[3] When an employee brings a personal device into an enterprise setting, mobile application management enables the corporate IT staff to download required applications, control access to business data, and remove locally cached business data from the device if it is lost, or when its owner no longer works with the company.[4]

Use of mobile devices in the workplace is also being driven from above. According to Forrester Research, businesses now see mobile as an opportunity to drive innovation across a wide range of business processes.[5] Forrester issued a forecast in August 2011 predicting that the “mobile management services market” would reach $6.6 billion by 2015 – a 69 percent increase over a previous forecast issued six months earlier.[5]

Citing the plethora of mobile devices in the enterprise – and a growing demand for mobile apps from employees, line-of-business decision-makers, and customers – the report states that organizations are broadening their “mobility strategy” beyond mobile device management to “managing a growing number of mobile applications.”[5]

MAM system features

An end-to-end MAM solution provides the ability to: control the provisioning, updating and removal of mobile applications via an enterprise app store, monitor application performance and usage, and remotely wipe data from managed applications. Core features of mobile application management systems include:

  • App delivery (Enterprise App Store)
  • App updating
  • App performance monitoring
  • User authentication
  • Crash log reporting
  • User & group access control
  • App Version management
  • App configuration management
  • Push services
  • Reporting and tracking
  • Usage analytics
  • Event management

The Middle East angle #1:
Mitigating the Risks of BYOD with MAM [ITP.net, Nov 14, 2012]

Organizations need to decide how to manage BYOD, says Johnny Karam, Regional Director, Middle East and French Speaking Africa, Symantec

According to a recent Symantec survey, 59% of enterprises are making line-of-business applications accessible from mobile devices in an effort to increase efficiency, increase workplace effectiveness and reduce time required to accomplish tasks.

The average annual cost of mobile incidents for enterprises, including data loss, damage to the brand, productivity loss, and loss of customer trust was $429,000 for enterprise. The average annual cost of mobile incidents for small businesses was $126,000.

According to Symantec’s State of Mobility Survey, 67% of companies are concerned with malware attacks spreading from mobile devices to internal networks. In addition, Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report highlighted that mobile vulnerabilities increased by 93% in 2011.

To manage or not to manage:

The first question every business must ask around BYOD is: How much management of user-owned devices connecting to corporate resources does the company want? This is critical because the degree to which an enterprise is involved in managing various aspects of user-owned mobile devices has consequences. For example, a key anticipated benefit of implementing BYOD means often no longer having to fully manage employees’ mobile devices. In return, support costs are hopefully reduced.

However, fully managing user-owned devices often results in intruding on the personal information and activity of those devices. This might include enforcing device-level authentication and encryption policies and complete device remote locking or wiping, including users’ personal content.

Delivering corporate [apps and] resources

Securing corporate [apps and] resources once they are delivered

The Middle East angle #2:
BYOD is not a new problem
[Gitex Review 2012 published on ITP.net, Nov 18, 2012]

Cloud and big data were the big talking points during GITEX Technology Week 2012. Leading UAE and global companies discuss those trends.

Florian Malecki, head of product marketing at Dell SonicWALL, says that enterprises need to be prepared to allow employees to use their toys.

Ilike to be a bit controversial over the growing BYOD trend. If you listen to the analysts; IDC, Gartner, Forrester; they are all predicting that the number of smartphones being sold by 2014-2015 will outgrow the number of laptops being sold.

We all say that the employees want to use their own device, but if you look at what they want to use, it is either a tablet or a smartphone, so companies and IT managers have to accommodate all users needs.

We did a survey and we looked at what devices our customers are supporting or are open to support, and there is no clear winner. If you look at it from a device point of view, there are people who want to use tablets (about 60%), people who want to use smartphones and people who want to use laptops.

How to start
A good way to start BYOD and try to minimise risks is by using an SSL VPN gateway. The beauty of an SSL VPN gateway is that you are able to identify the user and the user profile as well as identifying the device and setting up a profile for the device. You could have a profile that is a managed device or a personal device, but registered within the corporate ID system. Any organisation whether an SMB or enterprise, if they don’t really know where to start the BYOD journey, if they start looking at implementing an SSL VPN solution like the Dell SonicWALL solution then they probably meet 90% of employees requirements when it comes to BYOD.

How to control BYOD
The threat of personal devices on a corporate network is a big problem, according to Darren Gross, EMEA senior sales director, Centrify, and companies must be able to control information on those devices.

Security compliance experts Centrify have released mobile device management software, which integrates one single identity for each individual employee within an organisation, so wherever they go the company can control where they are going and what they are doing, through policies and security settings.

“There is a lot of competition in that space, but we are quite unique because we come from an angle of joining the system to Active Directory, so if I leave my iPad on the train, help desk can go and remotely wipe that device so there is no threat to the enterprise,” says Darren Gross, EMEA senior sales director, Centrify.

Enterprises also need to look at mobile device configuration to prevent viruses from accessing the corporate network.

… <LONG>

People that use mobile devices tend to have no passcodes on them. Centrify is able to enforce passwords and encryption on a personal device accessing the corporate network.

Cloud
The company is also developing authentication for off premis cloud software and service type applications so for example SalesForce and WebEx.

“Users will be able to sign on with one identity within Active Directory so you control what a user is doing and see where they are going, there is full accountability to what individuals are doing within the organisations,” said Gross.

Disaster recovery in the region
Yasser Zeineldin, CEO, eHosting DataFort, says the company is offering regional enterprises the opportunity to develop DR sites.

We offer clients both in UAE and the Middle East region the ability to have a hot disaster recovery site where data is replicated between their production system and the disaster recovery system that is hosted with us. This means that in real time if there is a failure in the primary system they can switch over to the secondary system.

<BIG DATA PART OF THE REPORT>


Mobile enterprise computing platform

Hal’s (Im)Perfect Vision on a possible (and much needed) further direction by Microsoft :
There is no ARM in Windows RT [Jan 2, 2013]

Windows RT is the name of Microsoft’s version of Windows 8 for ARM processors, right?  It’s aimed primarily at Consumers, right?  It’s role in business is primarily in the BYOD realm, right?  That’s so 2012!  Let’s talk about strategy and where I think Microsoft will go with Windows and particularly Windows RT.  And how their strategy may become more obvious in 2013.

The name Windows RT wasn’t chosen to convey a message about Windows moving to ARM processors.  Nor was it chosen to convey that it was a Tablet OS.  The name appears to have been chosen primarily for one reason, it is an operating system devoted to running Windows RunTime apps.  It splits the mainstream Windows product into two families.  Windows for running Win32 “desktop” and Windows RunTime applications and Windows RT that drops the legacy Win32 application support.  Windows RT is Microsoft’s go forward client operating system, while Windows is the operating system Microsoft will need to keep selling and enhancing for a transition that will last a decade or more, but it will eventually be considered a legacy.

I know I just sent a lot of people’s blood pressure through the roof because today they either (a) dislike Metro/Modern/whatever-you-call-it ,Windows RunTime, or the Start Screen and/or (b) the new environment isn’t really suitable for their usage scenario.  But keep in mind I’m talking about where things are going over several releases of the re-imagined Windows.  There will be many refinements, improvements, and changes before Windows RT replaces Windows as Microsoft’s primary client operating system offering.

The desktop lives forever, right?  Well, on Windows yes but not on Windows RT.  Today Windows RT only needs the desktop for two reasons.  First, many traditional utilities from the File Explorer to much of system management are only available as desktop apps.  Second, Microsoft Office is only available as desktop apps.  But in each release going forward this will become less true.  A Metro File Explorer will become standard.  More and more system management will move to the new model.  And eventually Microsoft will remove the desktop from Windows RT.  Then it will be able to remove many pieces of legacy (including Win32), making Windows RT smaller, faster, and more secure (via smaller attack surface) than it’s Windows sibling.

Microsoft started the ball rolling with Windows RT on ARM because that was the most practical thing to do.  With ARM unable to run existing x86 apps Microsoft had to decide if it would evangelize conversions of existing applications to ARM or put the energy into getting developers to write new Metro/Modern apps.  And without a library of Modern apps it was unlikely that any of the x86-oriented OEMs would create an x86 Windows RT system.   No rational amount of pricing difference on Microsoft’s part would encourage a OEM to use an operating system with no applications when they could just as simply use one with a huge, if aging, library.  ARM thus became the obvious place to introduce Windows RT.

As the library of applications in the Windows Store grows it becomes more and more likely that Microsoft will introduce Windows RT for x86 systems.  Will that happen in 2013?  By the end of 2013 the Windows Store will likely have in excess of 150,000 Apps.  Perhaps in excess of 200,000.  Assuming that the quality is there (meaning they are the apps people want and are equal to their iPad and Android equivalents) the market for systems with no need to run legacy desktop apps will have grown dramatically.  Microsoft, many of its OEMs, and Intel (of course) will want the option of using Clover Trail (and its follow-ons) in those systems.  So it is quite possible that Microsoft makes Windows RT available for Clover Trail-based systems in 2013, and it seems a certainty for 2014.

As a side note this is something that Paul Thurrott will probably not be happy about.  Paul has called on Microsoft to use Clover Trail in its next generation of the Surface so that it would have the full Windows experience.  But I expect that if Microsoft did use Clover Trail in a Surface (as opposed to Surface Pro) replacement that system would still run Windows RT.  Sorry Paul :-)

If Windows RT for x86 is speculative in 2013 here is something I think is a surer bet.  Windows RT will expand into a family that mirrors the editions of Windows.  I expect that in 2013 we will see a Windows RT Enterprise (and perhaps Pro as well) edition.  Why?  Well the current edition of Windows RT is missing some key functionality that would accelerate its adoption within Enterprises.  And I’m not even talking about UI or Windows RunTime changes that would increase the application space it was applicable to.  I’m talking purely about lower level operating system features.

Being able to participate in a domain is part of Microsoft’s secret sauce for enterprises, and today Windows RT can’t do that.  A Windows RT Enterprise edition would bring the ability to join a domain, use DirectAccess, use BitLocker, fully participate in Microsoft’s management capabilities, etc.  Whereas the solutions introduced in 2012 are acceptable for BYOD situations and some limited application scenarios, an Enterprise edition would allow Windows RT systems to participate as full members of the enterprise computing environment.

Windows RT Enterprise will not allow side-loading of desktop applications, but it may allow side-loading of limited types of system software.  As great as DirectAccess is (and given my involvement in it I’m biased, but then I also lived with it as my “VPN” for a year so know how fantastic the user experience is) most enterprises use Cisco VPNs.  And while Windows RT is certainly adequately protected with Windows Defender, IE SmartScreen, etc. most enterprises will want at least the management capabilities of enterprise-oriented security products and probably the ability to use their corporate standard (i.e., Symantec, McAfee, etc.) products and infrastructure.  Unless Microsoft addresses these adoption of Windows RT will be much slower than desired.

And what about requirements for access to desktop applications on Windows RT systems?  Many, perhaps most, enterprises are fine with using VDI to allow users of these systems to access desktop applications.  Some are downright enthusiastic.  But many do not want that access occurring off their corporate network.  Hence the need for the ability to join a domain, and use DirectAccess or VPNs when users need remote access.  You then run VDI over the corporate network.

Now we get to another wildcard in all of this, Office.  Today’s situation with Office being a desktop Win32 application on Windows RT, and only being available in the Home and Student edition, represents a major drag on Microsoft’s ability to move Windows RT forward.  Microsoft needs to either allow upgrade of the edition of Office on Windows RT to an Enterprise edition (including, for example, making Outlook available) or to move Office fully to Metro/Modern (likely in multiple editions).  They may do both given the time it could take to create a true Office RT.

An Office RT would benefit the entire Windows RT  and Windows 8 market and is the logical direction for Office to go.  But I find it hard to believe they can get to full equivalence with the Win32 Office apps in a year, let alone in a traditional longer release cycle.  We’ll see some, perhaps substantial, movement in this direction in 2013 but I don’t know how far Microsoft will get.  In the mean time they may find it prudent to release Office 2013 Enterprise (standalone and/or as based part of Office 365) for Windows RT systems.  However this rolls out, Microsoft will substantially improve the Office for Windows RT situation in 2013.

Finally, let me reinforce a point I’ve blogged about before.  Microsoft is moving to annual (or more frequent) updates as a (at least unofficial) corporate standard for release cycles.  There may be exceptions from time to time, but I’d expect pretty much every actively developed product to have annual releases.  That means faster evolution in smaller chunks is the norm.  You don’t like how the Start Screen works today?  By the end of the year there will no doubt be improvements that address major complaints.  Windows RunTime missing an API that keeps you from creating a Metro/Modern version of your App?  You might have it later this year.  Can’t stand that the Share contract doesn’t work with Outlook?  Again, a solution may appear faster than Microsoft customers have ever imagined possible.

2012 was an exciting year for Microsoft and its customers.  2013 may be even more exciting, and delightful.

But there are new contenders for the enterprise IT space not based on any earlier paradigms, neither on the enterprise desktop and notebook (like Microsoft’s Professional and especially Enterprise editions of Windows) evolved from the PC platform, nor on the web browser based enterprise thin client (from the Java-like Apex code programmable Force.com PaaS platform usable along with standard HTML, JavaScript and CSS in the browser, to a wide range of JavaScript frameworks of a kind of “enterprise quality” which include even versions for mobile browsers) evolved from the web platform.

A typical new contender, differing from both of the two earlier platforms in that by its very nature of cloud based file sharing can best exploit the power of new mobile computing devices, is the Box (service) [Wikipedia article, started on Nov 15, 2006]

Box (formerly Box.net) is an online file sharing and Cloud content management service for enterprise companies. … A mobile version of the service is available for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, WebOS, andWindows Phone devices.[4]

Products

The core of the service is based around sharing, collaborating, and working with files that are uploaded to Box. Box offers 3 account types: Enterprise, Business and Personal.[12] Depending on the type of account, Box has a number of features such as unlimited storage, custom branding, administrative controls and 3rd party integrations with applications like Google apps, Gmail, NetSuite and Salesforce. The service also has a variety of social features such as discussions, groups and an update feed.

Sharing

Box is a file sharing network, which saves and stores the information uploaded by the customer to their web site. They have the full legal right to demographic information about their customers, sales, and traffic to their partners and advertisers. Even though this company does not have the right to give, sell, rent, share or trade any personal information uploaded to their web site by their customers unless consent is given by the user of an account, a third party may be able to view some information. For which some terms and policies have been set forth, to protect the web site as well as the customers alike to establish a full functioning informative and well organized sharing network.[22]

With the users consent, and if they are to choose they can share their private details with other customers such as:[22]

To see your name, Email address, Photo, Profile information

Chosen files to share –where comments can be made, and others can contact the user by email. People you invite as editors can also edit your shared files, upload documents and photos to your shared files, share those documents outside of Box, and give other users rights to view your shared files.[22]

On the website its platform services for Enterprise IT are described in the following framework:

Consolidate File Services: Consolidate All Your Content Services on Box

Box – the single, secure solution for content access, sharing and collaboration – lets you replace a myriad of file transfer systems and unsecured, consumer-focused tools like YouSendIt and Dropbox. Bottom line: You reduce content silos, lower costs and give users the simplicity and functionality they want with the security IT requires. Learn more

  • Replace NFS, FTP, MFT and consumer file-sharing and sync tools
  • Streamline system administration and reporting
  • Reduce IT resource requirements while effortlessly meeting increasing storage needs

Enterprise Mobility: Support Mobile Content Management

Box works with any mobile device, giving remote workers access to critical content they need to succeed. Simultaneously, Box features a comprehensive and sophisticated security suite – and its seamless integration with third-party mobile device management tools like Good Technology and MobileIron provide an additional layer of data protection.Learn More

  • Users get anywhere, anytime access to critical content; and that content is synced across all their devices
  • IT enjoys remote device management coupled with auto logout and locking while sanctioning the use of specific mobile devices and apps
  • IT also gains a new level of content visibility, with insight into how content is managed and accessed in the organisation – and beyond

Cloud Content Management: Discover Content Management in the Cloud

As a Web-based service, Box is up and running in minutes and deployed in days. There’s no hardware to maintain or software to update and it complements existing content management platforms.
Learn more

  • Start working in the cloud immediately: no on-premise installation, provisioning, maintenance or DMZ setup
  • Enable employees to access and share enterprise content quickly and securely, both internally and with external partners and vendors
  • Significantly lower hardware and storage costs

Security and Architecture: Ensure Your Corporate Information is Secure

It’s true: Box is a leader in content management security and makes ongoing investments in the safety of our data centres and corporate operations. Box has been issued an SSAE 16 Type II report, and our solution also features Safe Harbor certification and provides easy-to-use configuration tools, so you can tailor Box to meet your security requirements. Learn More

  • Global permission controls and detailed audit trails
  • Full data encryption plus data centre backups and redundancy
  • Guaranteed 99.9% uptime

The Box Platform: Extend Box With Our Platform and Integrations

Box is more than just a Web application; our comprehensive yet flexible platform lets you easily integrate, extend and customise your cloud deployment. Connect Box to the leading SaaS applications you already use, integrate it into your IT infrastructure or build apps designed to do whatever your business needs. Learn more

  • Easily connect to other business applications like Salesforce, NetSuite and Google Apps
  • Extend Box to meet additional needs with our 120+ Box Apps including eFax, DocuSign, FedEx and mobile Box Apps like Quickoffice
  • Create custom mobile, Web and desktop applications powered by Box

Professional Services: Deploy Easily With Professional Services

Our Customer Success team offers a comprehensive range of professional and client support services, from end-user training to systems integration and performance tuning. Learn more

  • Content migration services transfer your existing data to Box quickly and securely
  • Custom implementation road maps streamline deployment across the enterprise
  • A dedicated Customer Success representative gives you the responsive, personalised support you deserve

The current state was described in Box Platform: Announcing v2 API in GA and Year in Review [on box blog by Chris Yeh, VP of Platform, Dec 14, 2012]

2012 has been an amazing ride for the Box platform, and I’m excited to announce that we’re ending the year on a high note with the general availability of the Box v2 API. First released back in April in beta, we’ve made tremendous strides to bring our partners, developers and customers a simple, elegant and intuitive API that will power the next generation of business collaboration.

Our v2 API represents a major step forward for Box. It is RESTful, implements the OAuth2 spec to standardize user authentication, has much improved error handling and it is well documented. Our Platform Manager Peter Rexer has a deep dive into all the details of the v2 API here. We’re also introducing Box developer accounts, which offer developers access to all of Box’s enterprise features through both the Box web app and the API. In celebration of our new API, we’re offering 25GB of Box free for any developer account created before January 18, 2013.

API Momentum in 2012

Our new API is being launched at a time of tremendous platform growth for Box. In 2012, every API metric that we tracked grew significantly. Here’s just a sample of some of the massive traction we’re seeing with the Box API:

  • 129%: growth in third party developers using Box
  • 140%: growth in number of third party API calls per month
  • 133%: growth in apps in the Box Apps Marketplace
  • 200%: growth in number of weekly users of third party apps on Box

Of course, we wouldn’t have seen such strong platform growth and API engagement without the efforts and work driven by the amazing Box platform team and our ecosystem of third party developers. We built industry-first products including Box OneCloud and Box Embed, travelled the world meeting amazing companies along the way and got together as a community to hack some pretty cool projects. Here’s a brief look back at an amazing 2012.

Box OneCloud

In April, we introduced Box OneCloud for iOS, the first mobile cloud for the enterprise. OneCloud helps you discover useful productivity apps that are deeply integrated with Box for productivity on common business tasks like document editing, PDF annotation, e-signature, etc. We launched on iOS with 50 apps and shortly thereafter brought this to Android. By year’s end we’ll have nearly 300 OneCloud app integration partners across both iOS and Android. 40% of all Box’s Fortune 500 customers are using Box OneCloud.

Box Platform on the Road – New York & London

In New York this spring, we announced our v2 API in beta, 100 new OneCloud apps and partnerships with General Assembly and TechStars. We welcomed over 650 attendees to Skylight West to hear from Box CEO Aaron Levie, Take Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick and former Editor-in-Chief of Wired Chris Anderson. Later, everyone danced to cool tunes spun by Elijah Wood. Our friends in New York include the Bizodo team, which makes a great form-filling app that puts content into Box. We also hung out with the Handshake team, which created a rich order-taking app useful in many business and retail settings. When the Handshake logo appeared on our OneCloud billboard on the 101, they tweeted that it was the startup equivalent of your voice dropping. One of the most interesting things about New York is the concentration of enterprise-focused startups. For example, we’re really pleased to support Jonathan Lehr’s NY Enterprise Technology Meetup and Nick Gavronsky’s New York City Startup Weekend, which just occurred last weekend.

In late August, we parachuted into the middle of Carnival week in London to talk to analysts, press, London-based startups and supporting government organizations. We hosted a developer meet-up at Shoreditch House and were awestruck by the energy in London, particularly in Tech City. We spent time in Google’s shared space in London, where we first met Ben Wirtz, CEO of Unifyo, which brings together multiple sources of customer data to provide enterprises with a singular view of customers. We wandered down to Chelsea to meet Will Lovelace, CEO of Datownia, a company that allows the easy translation of Excel spreadsheets into APIs for external consumption. And we visited the lofty digs of the Chelsea Apps Factory, a super high quality app consultancy and production company.

It’s great to meet with so many wonderful people and even better when you can get together and build some really cool things.

Box Hack Event

Full disclosure, our first public hack event at Box HQ was not intended to be thematically linked to astronauts shooting each other, but that’s another story. At this event, called “Redefine Work,” 150 hackers stayed overnight creating more than 40 contest entries. Participating technology partners included TokBox, Firebase, Mashery, Twilio, Parse, Iron.io and SendGrid. Our winning hack, called OMGHelp, is an application that improves the technical support experience by allowing a customer to use a smartphone camera to show a technical support person what they’re doing. If you’re interested, here is a really nice recap of our event that was created by Mashery’s Neil Mansilla on Storify.

We closed out our active year in October with…

BoxWorks Dev Day

At BoxWorks, we announced a brand new technology that lets you quickly and easily extend the full Box experience anywhere you work. We call it Box Embed, our robust HTML5 framework for adding Box directly into the user interfaces of other applications. We launched with ten partners, including NetSuite, Jive, Conur, Oracle and others and we plan to continue adding to that number. Box Embed is particularly exciting to us because it’s one of the easiest ways for our partners to help make the content you have stored on Box accessible from anywhere.

We also ran an un-conference-like Developer Day where hundreds of developers joined us to hear about the latest web development technologies and learn about enterprise development. We ran a well-attended startup camp with Boxers from various departments (design, sales, marketing in addition to developer evangelists) providing consulting. And we concluded with one of my favorite reporters/writers, Drew Olanoff of TechCrunch, interviewing one of my favorite “startup” CEOs, Jeff Lawson of Twilio, about the ways that developers should think about using APIs in their apps.

We were fortunate to have many of our platform partners join us at BoxWorks this year. Jesse Miller and the attachments.meteam met with Box customers on the main show floor. David Klein and the SlideShark team presented in one of our sessions, as did Milind Gadekar from CloudOn.

As you can see, we’ve had an amazing year. Thanks to all of our platform partners, big and small, for working with us. We look forward to reaching the next level in the new year.

2013: Looking Forward

As 2013 approaches, we’re working on making it even easier for developers to work with Box by focusing on our SDKs and other developer tools. We’re also excited to be building new platform products. On one front, we’re working on new developer-focused metadata tools. On another, we’re looking at allowing developers to hook into workflow products that will allow content to move through Box in various business flows.

We’re sure that it will be a fun ride. Happy holidays to all and we’ll look forward to working with you in 2013!

Regarding the most demanding enterprise customers of Box.com here are few excepts from Why Box.com is king of enterprise cloud storage [CNET, May 15, 2012]

It may be known to some as the Dropbox-for-the-enterprise, but Box.com could be forgiven for insisting on its own identity.

With more than 120,000 customers, including 82 percent of the Fortune 500, the company has made a name for itself as one of the leaders in the enterprise cloud storage and data management space. And though Box.com has Microsoft, and more recently, Google breathing down its neck, CEO Aaron Levie doesn’t appear the least bit nervous.

That may be because the company has spent seven years building its business and solidifying a technology platform that gets more sophisticated — and cost-effective — every day. And as it has evolved into occupying a sizable Silicon Valley building, and employing more than 400 people, Box is now setting its sights on new businesses, including providing customers with the infrastructure on which to build cloud-based applications.

Last week, the 27-year-old Levie sat down with CNET in a conference room at Box.com headquarters for an interview about the state of his company, the competitive landscape in the cloud storage and service space, and even the value of wearing a hoodie in a meeting with potential investors.

How do you pitch Box.com to customers?
Levie: So many different kinds of businesses out there are all going through the exact same challenge and transition. It’s almost counterintuitive how predictable everybody’s situation is. Because whether you’re in construction or finance or real estate or consumer or media tech, every CIO we talk with, and these are companies that are 5,000, or 10,000, or 50,000 employees, they’re going through the same kind of transition and they’re at the same junctures as organizations, where they have decades of legacy technologies that they’re still managing. And it’s, How am I going to build an IT and technology strategy for the next five to ten years. And often, if you look at how vast the change has been in the landscape, the technology strategy they’re going to end up with is very different than the one they just came from.

So what is Box.com?
Levie: The vision of Box is to make it easy for customers to share, manage, and access information from anywhere. That means we need lots of different kinds of technologies to make that happen, including technology that will sit on your iPhone, your Mac, your Android device or your Blackberry. And we just announced something with Nokia with their Windows Phones and tablets. We’re a 100 percent enterprise-focused company, and all the technology we’re building goes towards asking how do we make it easier or more scalable, or simpler, and just a better way for businesses to share and manage and access this data.

Any regrets on being 100 percent enterprise?
Levie: God, no. Our thesis is basically that if you look at the cost of storage, it goes down roughly about 50 percent every 18 to 24 months. So our hard costs are about a tenth of what they were when we started the company seven years ago. And you can predict that in the next five to ten years, we’ll have another 10x improvement in storage density and performance. Eventually you’ll get to a point where storage is infinite and free, because companies like Google, and Microsoft, and Apple can essentially subsidize the cost of storage for their consumers because it’s so cheap and the value of keeping people locked into their system is so great for them. But in the enterprise, storage is critically important, so we had to give people lots of space, but what you pay for is the security, the platform value, the collaboration, and the integration into your enterprise, and this is where we can build differentiated technology instead of just being measured on how much storage we give you and at what price.

Who poses the biggest threat to your business?
Levie: I would say Microsoft knows the most about the enterprise of any of these players. Google has a phenomenal brand, but it’s getting to be a broader brand, because it’s everything from your wallet to your car to your TV to your phone. The other thing that gets lost in the entire conversation because Google and Microsoft and Apple are so aggressive about this space, is the big transition companies are going to do from Oracle, IBM, EMC, and a lot of these traditional enterprise infrastructure players. Because as these dollars, and as your computing goes to the cloud, it moves away from implementing on-premise systems. It’s not going to be that Dropbox or Apple or Google loses. It’s going to be a lot of the legacy systems that we were spending lots of money on. As the $290 billion enterprise software market moves to the cloud, an entire new landscape of players and vendors are going to be the beneficiaries of that, unless these legacy vendors really get their act together.

Pre-Commerce and the Consumerization of IT

Follow up (very much suggested reading):
Social media based global product management [Sept 13, 2011]

IDC 2011 Video: Closing the Consumerization Gap[July 12, 2011]

In this recording, Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst of IDC, discusses the results of recent Unisys-sponsored iWorker and business research on the “consumerization gap” and what it means for the enterprise.

Then in the second video below, Paul-Henri Ferrand, CMO of the Consumer & Small and Medium Business Division of Dell is talking about a major trend with potential to transform the whole IT industry.

There is a new wave of consumer innovation to businesses. Three factors are driving the consumerization of  IT:

  1. Social media (on which Dell is spending 50% of resources, unlike the typical 100% business related spending on transactions)
  2. Product range
  3. Work and home

This is referred as the coming of “virtual era” inside Dell.

There are 3 well recognized megatrends:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Social media
  3. Consumerization of IT (which is – according to gartner – is the most influential trend in this decade)

The latter is due to the social media, the proliferation of digital devices, and to the blurring of the boundary between home and work (flexible work arrangements, seamless always on connections to social media and their content).

In the last 3 years consumerization of IT is in the center of everything they do in Dell (in 2009: decision to go to social media allowed for all employees).

Now let’s see the video: “Consumerization of IT” – Keynote von Paul-Henri Ferrand auf der CeBIT 2011 [March 17, 2011]

Keynote von Paul-Henri Ferrand, CMO der Consumer & Small and Medium Business Division bei Dell, zum Thema “Consumerization of IT” im Rahmen der CeBIT Global Conferences am 3. März 2011.

It is important to see from the below point in time an excerpt from the keynote in transcribed form as well:

[21:31] But I realized one thing. Your brand is not something you control. It’s controlled by your customers. And your customers are now today in blogs, in forums, in websites … They are just talking about your company, And if you decide not to be there, guess what. Yoi can even not know their site, you cannot even influence what they are doing.

Actually McKinsey came up with a study that says that 20 to 50% of the purchasing decisions are being made today by the word of mouth on the Internet and social websites. And on the other side 56% of corporations today are preventing their workers to access social websites. That’s staggering.

I would make the proposition that you have to decide today whether or not you want to embrace consumerization of IT. But if you don’t want to I think your customers will choose to go to other companies. [22:52]

Now it is easy to talk about social media and what we are doing. I will tell you, it is hard.

Actually in Dell we’ve set up a Social Media Ground Control Center. You can see a picture [of it here]. I wanted to show you a video [of it but] I couldn’t get a video on this one.

We are entertaining 22 thousand global conversations a day. And if you go to the center what you’ll see is just quite staggering. We can find out whenever we are launching a product, whatever we are doing … we could find out around the world what is being said. We can analyze it, we can figure out in which continent, in what country, who is talking about us. And then when we know they are talking about us we can get back to them.

Actually we have 3.5 million interactions with customers daily. I think this really what’s the heart of social media. You don’t do social media in a controlled fashion. You do social media because you want to use it. It’s hard. You have to invest, you have to train your people, you have to setup the policies, and you have to ensure that you have a strategy around it. [24:10]

See also:
Dell at CeBIT 2011 [March 4, 2011]
Consumer Driven Innovation by Paul-Henri Ferrand [Dec 10, 2010]

The brain behind these changes in Dell has been a distinct person.
See now another video with him:
Pre-Commerce: A New Book by Bob Pearson [March 1, 2011]

Chief Technology & Media Officer, Bob Pearson, introduces the context for his new book “Pre-Commerce.”

WCG Announces Publication of Pre-Commerce, New Book By Chief Media and Technology Officer Bob Pearson [March 9, 2011]

The book explains how the exploding use of social and online media has fundamentally changed the way customers make purchasing decisions, how they educate themselves, and why they choose to support certain brands above others.  Pearson demonstrates that the shift from an e-commerce world to one that focuses on pre-commerce means that C-suite executives and marketers must listen to and engage directly with customers and influencers to shape their brand and marketplace success.

“We spend less than one percent of our time online involved in a transaction,” said Pearson.  “On the other hand, 99 percent of our time online is spent learning, browsing, socializing and seeking support.  Companies that develop excellence in pre-commerce will be the ones to drive e-commerce success in the years ahead.”

In writing the book, Pearson drew on his extensive experience providing social media and communication counsel to C-suite executives and interviews with more than 25 Fortune 500 executives and other business leaders from a variety of industries. These include Ray Kerins, VP of Global Communications, Pfizer; David Witt, Director, Global Brand Public Relations and Consumer Engagement, The Hershey Company; Lukas Cudrigh, Senior Director, Digital Solutions, Microsoft; Paul Von Autenreid, CIO, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Yann Gourvennac, Head of Social Media and Web, Orange.

“Tomorrow’s leaders will learn how to become a “relevant peer” in the communities of their customers,” added Pearson.  “Those who embrace pre-commerce will learn new ways to market, recruit and retain employees, shape the reputation of brands and much more.  In many respects, we’re all just getting started in our journey to redefine how we all work together.”

Inside WCG – Bob Pearson And Paulo Simas Discuss The New Book Pre-Commerce [Jan 17, 2011]

Chief Technology & Media Officer, Bob Pearson, and Chief Creative Officer, Paulo Simas, discuss Pearson’s new book, Pre-Commerce, the context for it, how the ideas took shape, and the basic framework behind it.

Bob Pearson’s Experience [LinkedIn]

Key Models: i.e. The 4A’s and The 4L’s (of the Pre-Commerce book)4As
One of the most important core concepts
of the book, namely the 4 A’s (which replace the 4 P’s) are providing ways for businesses to create greater awareness, assessment, action and ultimately ambassadorship for their products and services.

As just one example, if you have recently run a satellite symposium at a congress (which in today’s increasingly challenging environment is a significant drain on the annual budget) then ask yourself:

  • Did you really think about when, where and how your target audience will become awareof your symposium (either as a stand-alone entity, or in the context of your ongoing brand activities)?
  • Did you monitorhow word of your event spread among your target audience, and what was said about it? More to the point, did you actively promote / gain advocates for your meeting at all?
  • What real commitment to actionto you get from the people who attended?
  • Did you monitor and facilitatethe post-meeting discussion of the event (beyond the hastily filled-in questionnaires from the few people in the room who weren’t from your competitors)?
  • Did anyone of your audience go back to their practice and become an advocate for your brand as a result of what they saw? Would you even know if they had?

In summary, our approach is that you need to be pro-actively communicating with your audience all of the time – not just whenever you have some data to present or an issue to manage. If you or your advocates don’t make the first impression, someone else will do it for you, and you may well not like the long-term outcome…

Excerpted from: First impressions count: why you must do more to manage your medical communications [June 14, 2011]

Inside WCG – Bob Pearson and Paulo Simas Talk About The 4 A’s [Jan 14, 2011]

Chief Technology & Media Officer, Bob Pearson, and Chief Creative Officer, Paulo Simas, discuss the new customer driven model called, The 4 A’s, whereby companies will have new ways to understand and engage in what their customers are doing and what is motivation them.

Key Models: i.e. The 4A’s and The 4L’s (of the Pre-Commerce book)4Ls

In today’s environment, the customer drives the success of a brand. WCG’s model  for how we listen, learn, and interact with customers starts with the 4 A’s: the framework for a continuum of communication and decision making that span across all points of engagement.

Hand in hand with the 4 A’s are the 4 L’s: a process that enables us to influence decisions regarding the customer’s relationship with our brand. Collectively, the 4 A’s and the 4 L’s add up to become The Engagement Span(ES).

In this WCG ThoughtLeader podcast, Paulo Simas, Chief Creative Officer at WCG, explains what The Engagement Span is, describes the 4 A’s and 4 L’s and how each element fits together to form The Engagement Span to achieve an impact for clients.

Paulo argues that ES is a dynamic framework for engaging current and future customers. He believes that by merging behavior with insight, we create an effective blueprint for powerful communication.

Finally, he offers advice to companies on what they need to do to prepare and be ready for The Engagement Span.

Excerpted from: WCG ThoughtLeader Interview: Paulo Simas, WCG, on The Engagement Span [Feb 15, 2011]

Inside WCG – Bob Pearson & Paulo Simas Talk About The 4 L’s[Jan 14, 2011]

Chief Technology & Media Officer, Bob Pearson, and Chief Creative Officer, Paulo Simas, discuss taking the philosophy of the customer driven model, The 4 A’s, and making it a reality with The 4 L’s.

WeissComm Group Acquires Common Sense Media Group, Appoints Founder Bob Pearson Chief Technology and Media Officer to Help Clients Evaluate and Optimize Social Media [May 27, 2009]

Before starting Common Sense Media Group, Pearson was vice president of communities and conversations at Dell, where he and his team were responsible for developing an industry-leading approach to social media. His team at Dell built and maintained 25 blogs, forums and community sites in seven languages worldwide with over 200 million page views of annual interaction. Pearson’s team built Ideastorm, the first external idea community for a Fortune 500 company, as well as similar sites for healthcare customers and for employees. He also oversaw the company’s approach to Twitter, Facebook and other major social media sites. His team’s efforts, which have been featured in numerous books, such as Groundswell and Crowdsurfing, were highly targeted and successful at improving customer service and satisfaction online, increasing brand value, empowering customers to solve technical issues, rate and review products and, ultimately, help drive e-commerce.

Before joining Dell, Pearson was head of global corporate and pharma communications at Novartis in Basel serving on the company’s Pharma Executive Committee. Prior to Novartis, he built the global healthcare practice for GCI Public Relations, ultimately becoming president of the Americas for GCI.

Pearson is a frequent speaker on social media, ranging from Salesforce.com’s DreamForce to Inc. 500 to Microsoft’s Software Architects Forum to the upcoming Twtrcon this weekend. Pearson is Vice-Chair of the Emerging Technology Committee for the State of Texas and serves on P&G’s Digital Advisory Board and the advisory board of Uservoice. He is also President of the Blog Council, the only organization for social media leaders in the Fortune 1000to share best practices in a private forum.

Bob is an industry leader and visionary whose 25 years of marketing and communications experience, particularly the last three at Dell, will provide immediate value to our clients, many of whom are looking to us to help them understand and successfully navigate the changing media landscape to impact their business,” said Jim Weiss, Chairman, CEO and Founder of WeissComm Group. “We are committed to consistently innovating and renewing our capabilities and services to ensure we deliver A+ work and results to our clients in real time. Our investment in social media is based on our belief that it will become the centrifugal force of the marketing and communications mix enabling clients to target, learn from, access and connect with customers and key influencers in a cost-effective, impactful way that ultimately improves the way they do business.”

Blog Council Announces Dell’s Bob Pearson to Join as President [April 7, 2009]

The Blog Council, the world’s leading forum for large companies to share best practices in social media, announced that Bob Pearson has left Dell to become its new President. Pearson was previously Vice President of Communities and Conversations at Dell, where he oversaw the company’s social media efforts worldwide.

Social media represents a disruptive set of technologies and techniques that will transform a company’s business practices, improve conversational capabilities with customers and empower employees to learn and share their knowledge in real time,” said Pearson. “In the years ahead, we will see social media evolve into a discipline that companies use throughout their organization — from marketing to technical support to human resources.”

Pearson is widely known as the leader of one of the first major social media programs at a global enterprise. His work at Dell is considered the model for how big businesses should work with blogs, communities, and other social media.

From Idea To Innovation [April 1, 2009]

Companies are using online voting tools and prediction markets to conceive new products. So why are most of them still in testing mode?

… Dell looked to an even broader market for new product ideas, using Salesforce.com’s online voting service called Ideas and launching Dell IdeaStorm, where anyone can submit and vote on new features and options for Dell products. Perhaps best known of these ideas is a Linux-based laptop Dell introduced in May 2007.  …

Dell remains a believer in the community’s intelligence after more than a year of using the voting technology and thinks that of the 200 or so ideas it has implemented out of the process, 4% are “potential game changers,” says Bob Pearson, Dell’s VP of communities and conversations.

Dell’s launch of IdeaStorm about 18 months agowas one of several steps the company took to shake its image of not innovating and not understanding fast-changing consumer markets. With IdeaStorm, people submit and vote on new features and options for Dell products in an online forum, and as ideas gain popularity, a moderator forwards them to product managers for consideration. The company has received more than 10,000 ideas, implementing about 200 of them.

Besides the Linux laptop, those ideas include Dell’s decision to continue offering Windows XP when Vista was launched and to do a Dell-sponsored small-business makeover show, launched last week on the A&E TV network. Six features in the Latitude Series came through IdeaStorm, including business laptops in different colors, battery life up to 19 hours, and a backlit keyboard. “All were on the radar, but from the 130 ideas these were the ones that resonated the most,” Pearson says.

Michael Dell – 2020 shaping Ideas [Sept 27, 2010]

As teenagers, Dell Inc. founder and CEO Michael Dell and his computer-minded friends spent all their time on an electronic bulletin board – sharing information, collaborating and exchanging ideas. Since then, their ideals has been adopted by a whole generation. And when you collaborate, anything is possible.

Lessons from Michael Dell on Continual Innovation and Collaboration [by Bob Pearson, Aug 30, 2011]

In my view, Michael Dell is one of the best “continual innovators” in business today.  He is a real expert in understanding and enabling collaboration that is meaningful to a business.  I had the opportunity to see his skills in action when I worked at Dell, which I talk about in Pre-Commerce.

In this post, I would like to share key learning’s that have value to all of us in business today.  Here’s my top 10, based on my experience working with Michael.

#1 – Every customer is important, regardless of size – whether the customer is a teacher in Iowa or a CIO in Paris, we must listen to all of our customers to understand what they are saying, collectively.  We get smarter when we listen well.  IdeaStormwas a great example.

#2 — Innovation is incremental and continual– it never stops.  It is daily.  Most innovation occurs step by step.  It is rarely about the big idea.  Every meeting and interaction counts when you think like this.

#3 – Innovators are their own market research departments– you must become a student of your industry and our world.  With Michael, you can provide some data or insights and he can figure out what is next because he is fully aware of the marketplace.  We all need to  read about China regularly or search trends or smart phones in Latin America so that our “gut”is always ready.

#4 – Collaboration leads to the best ideas– if you ask your customers or employees to tell you what is important, you learn how to make the right trade-offs.    Don’t ask a few.  Ask them all.

#5 – Customers want to help their peers– the most powerful driver of human behavior online is to help your peers.  When companies see themselves as peers, they serve their customers well.

#6 – Don’t decide alone for your customer— participants’ ideas will help guide decisions you have to make about product features and trade-offs.

#7 – Participation is powerful— people get a sense of empowerment when you allow them to participate and recognize their contribution.  Employees can be unlocked in ways we’ve never imagined via technology and good old fashioned effort.  Let go and let yourself become surprised.

#8 – Follow through is the middle name of collaboration— the real action occurs after the idea is received. Reach a conclusion.   Don’t think about it forever.

#9 – Become your own incubator— leaders who nurture ideas create opportunities.  Let go, allow your team to try new ideas, fail occasionally and end up with a great batting average.

#10 – Realize that innovation and collaboration are cousins– you do better when you have a mindset to innovate and a desire to share and learn with others.

The most innovative firms in the future will also be the most collaborative.  I’m convinced.  To hear more from Michael, you can read about his thoughts on the topic  in Pre-Commerce.

In the World of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, Dell’s Social DNA Serves Its Brand Well [Forbes, May 6, 2011]

You don’t have to be a parent to understand that there’s a difference between just hearing and actually listening. This comment, at the beginning of the recent conversation I had with Karen Quintos, senior vice president and CMO at Dell Inc. summed up our shared opinion that a company can think it’s being customer-centric when, in actuality, it’s not. I had called Karen to talk to her about how social media has changed the way companies interactwith customers and whether Dell, being a quintessentially customer-oriented brand from the get-go (as in, tell us how you want your computer built) had evolved, as a result. What follows is a snippet of our very interesting dialog:

Allen Adamson: Dell, as in Michael Dell, came up with the idea of involving customers in the building of their personal computers and, in doing so, built a differentiated brand name, customer-centric from the start – “customer-centric” being a buzz word, but an appropriate description nonetheless. How has Dell kept up with this concept given the advent and exponential growth of social media since your company was launched in 1984?

Karen Quintos: First of all, customer-centricity is and always has been part of the Dell DNA. It’s not something we think about. It’s the way we do business. It’s like the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is passive. You can hear someone say something, but it doesn’t prompt any reaction. Listening, on the other hand, is active. You have a passion for the message and you take accountability to respond to what customers need. Listening is what we do at Dell and social media has made it that much more effective and efficient.

AA: I remember back to my “Mad Men” days in advertising when it was the research department that had the primary responsibility to look and listen and report back. It seems listening is the way Dell operates across the board.

KQ: Absolutely. We have taken listening to a whole new level and we use it in every aspect of the business—from product and solutions development to services to sales to customer support to marketing. A great example of this is IdeaStorm, which we launched in 2007. IdeaStorm is a social community that allows customers to suggest new product and services ideas, and then we refine and prioritize those ideas within our organization. As another example, we have a very active group of storage technology enthusiasts. We leverage their knowledge to help us with new solutions and technical specifications.

AA: With social media, there is almost no option but to get things done in real time. The transparency dynamic prompted by digital technology has really brought to life the notion that “a brand is as a brand does.”

KQ: Without a doubt. That’s why we pay close attention to the conversations we have with our customers. We have what we call our Listening Command Center which monitors conversations taking place about Dell on Twitter, Facebook, across all social media communities. The folks on this team can immediately triage a situation. They’re able to trend data that shows us what issues people are latching onto, positive or negative, and then our teams deal with them accordingly. One of the ways we respond to these conversations is through a program called Dell Cares (@dellcares on Twitter). Dell Cares is overseen by an enthusiastic group of customer support and technology people. Instead of just making note and letting issues fester, this team is on top of addressing problems or questions promptly.

AA: Do you think Dell has a particular advantage over other companies because you started out as a brand with an inherent listening culture?

KQ: Yes and no. There is nothing new or novel about the notion of listening as a way of providing customers with what they want and need. It’s so simple and so basic. But if you don’t do it, you can’t act on it. Listening enables superior customer outcomes. All of us at Dell, including Michael, start every staff meeting with a customer story, and then we talk about how we could have made the customer experience even better. If you fundamentally believe that being customer-centric is the right thing to do, opportunities will follow. But you have to believe in it.

Dell’s CMO on the brand transformation and new campaign [Forbes video, Jan 13, 2011]

Introducing Dell’s Social Media Command Center [Dec 8, 2010]

Michael Dell and Karen Quintos join others for the launch of Dell’s new global social media command center.

Dell opens its Social Media Command Center [Dec 16, 2010]

What’s the big idea

Taking a step back, there are three main reasons for a business to leverage social media (the following is based on a conversation I had with the VAR guy who in turn wrote my ramblings upinto something coherent):

  1. Monitor & Respond:You need to protect your brand. By monitoring FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs (through Google Alerts), you can defend your brand, answer questions and stop misinformation about your company before it goes viral across the web.
  2. Educate and Inform: This is where you take the time to tell customers more about your services, expertise or unique selling proposition. Generally speaking, this involves speaking to established customers or speaking to customers who have needs for your services.
  3. Establish Thought Leadership: This is how you pull new people into the sales funnel. Perhaps a local business owner didn’t realize (A) they had a pain point and (B) you have the skills to solve that pain point. Through pro-active communications, you’re able to describe your expertise and create sales opportunities that otherwise may not have materialized.

While Dell participates in all three of the buckets above, the command center is primarliy focused on bucket 1.

Monitoring and Responding

As reported today in Mashable,  “The center will track on average more than 22,000 daily topic posts related to Dell, as well as mentions of Dell on Twitter. The information can be sliced and diced based on topics and subjects of conversation, sentiment, share of voice, geography and trends.”

VP of Social Media Manish Mehta explained the center’s purpose back in October in a comment on a blog post by Altimeter’s Industry Analyst Jeremiah Owyang:

“Our new ‘Ground Control’ is about tracking the largest number [of] possible conversations across the web and making sure we ‘internalize’ that feedback — good and bad…

“Dell’s Ground Control is also about getting that information to the right people wherever they are in the Dell organization, globally and functionally. It’s also about tracking what you might call the ‘long tail’… those smaller matters that might not bubble to the surface today, but are out there… and deserve to be heard. We want to ‘hear’ them too — contrary to the scenarios about ’squeaky wheels getting grease.’”

Dell The 5 years of social media yourney -- Aug-2011
From Customer Centered Marketing: The Social Media Journey [by Allison Dew, Aug 25, 2011]

Allison Dew is Dell’s Executive Director for Social Media and Community. She is responsible for establishing Dell’s strategies, global programs, best practices, policies and measurement of social media across the company.

In addition to leading Dell’s social media and community efforts, Allison is also responsible for Global Insights based on customer research and analytics. She combines this primary research and marketing analytics function with Dell’s social media listening and engagement initiatives to further maximize how Dell uses customer insights and feedback to deliver business value. At Dell’s recent Worldwide Leadership Meeting she was recognized with the “Inspired Leader” award—one of only 16 leaders across all of Dell to be honored with this recognition by the Dell Executive team.

Before Dell, she worked for Microsoft where she led marketing for MSN, ran brand and advertising for Windows, and worked on Microsoft.com and Windows community efforts. She has spent five years working in Japan with a local advertising firm.

Allison has an undergraduate degree in French and Japanese from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Wharton School.

From: Austin AMA Power Luncheon Series: B2B Social Marketing

Social Media Boot Camp: Best Practices from the Front Lines of Dell [Karen Quintos, May, 2011]

Listening is the first step to any solid relationship. Fortunately for Dell, listening has been embedded in everything we do since Michael Dell started the company more than 27 years ago. Back in those days, he would include a “Tell Michael” card with every system shipped, review the feedback when the cards came back, and then assign action items to his team.

Fast forward to 2010, when Dell established the Social Media Listening Command Center, our global operational hub for monitoring some 26,000 online mentions about Dell that customers post every day. We sort what people say about Dell based on topics, sentiment, share of voice, geography, and trends. We strive to understand the largest possible number of conversations—good and bad—all across the web. From there, we work to ensure that the right teams follow up on these conversations and act on them.

At Dell, we have implemented a model based on a centralized social media team that acts as a hub of best practices, tools, and processes that we incubate and then embed within our business units. It’s these business unit teams that execute social media strategies to align with their specific business goals. These same teams participate in our cross-functional council to keep us all on the same page.

Given the dynamic nature of social media, we also leverage it internally to keep information flowing. One of the tools Dell uses is Chatterfrom Salesforce.com, which gives all 103,000 team members the opportunity to connect, build communities within Dell, and solve problems in real time.

How do we measure the business value of social media? What are the right metrics to use based on business needs? How do you use them to guide investment decisions and optimize social media initiatives?

The key is to start with a measurement platform that aligns with business goals, beyond just social media. For Dell, the measurement platform is Net Promoter Score(NPS), which measures customer loyalty: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague?” We look at the impact of social media and the word of mouth it fuels as being directly tied to NPS.

How Dell Really Listens to its Customers [July 22, 2011]

On Tuesday, July 19, I attended Dell’s second annual Customer Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting, split this year between the Westin Hotel at the Domain (a swanky, high-end, high-density shopping, dining, and condominium mecca in North Austin) and Dell Headquarters in Round Rock, TX. Though the name of this even doesn’t mention social media, the entire focus of the meeting was to explore, explain and discuss how Dell can provide better sales and technical support, education, and information to its customers using social media.

To that end, invitees included some very well-known social media mavens who focus on the computer scene, including Paul Mooney, Allen Mirales, Connie Bensen, Dave Gartner, Haley Quarles, and Travis Bailey, along with a slew of Dell employees at all levels, including a half-hour encounter with Michael Dell himself.

When the first CAP meeting was held last year, Dell had 10 employees who monitored and deal with social media in a single language — namely, English. Today, Dell’s Social Media organization includes a Social Media Ground Control and Command Center, and there are 70 employees monitoring and dealing with social media in 11 languages (English, plus Japanese, Chinese, Portugese, Spanish, French, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Korean). Dell’s Radian 6 based monitoring and management tools record about 25,000 social media events for the company each day, and they make a serious point of engaging with and responding to those things as quickly as possible. I was informed that most tweets, Facebook postings or other social media messages that request or merit a Dell response receive an acknowledgement or answer of some kind in no more than 24 hours, and that many are handled much more quickly than that.

More information:
Dell’s Story of Listening [July 10, 2011]
CMO 2.0 Conversation with Karen Quintos, CMO at Dell [June 18, 2011]
Listen Up! Dell Lends Its Ear To Social Media [Feb 23, 2011]
Dell’s Next Step: The Social Media Listening Command Center [Dell, Dec 8, 2010]
Social Media Engagement That Works [Dell, Oct 8, 2010]

Dell’s social media support team, a group of 26 employees in the U.S., China and Latin America, now listens to customers across Twitter, Facebook, Renren and other online communities and forums across the Web. Through these interactions, we’ve built relationships with our customers and help solve their problems where it’s most convenient for them. Here are a couple of my favorite listening stories that make me proud to go to work and be part of this fabulous team.

How Social Media Is Changing Customer Service [July 14, 2011]

For Dell, social media has emerged as a critical tool for repairing a brand image that suffered considerably in the wake of some highly publicized product quality and support issues. Now the company has even begun to classify certain social media influencers into people who are Dell “ravers” or “ranters” with an eye of turning those ranters into ravers by providing levels of customer service that exceed anything that was possible before the advent of social media made communicating with customers in real time possible.

In fact, a recent survey of 200 companies conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Dell found that while only 20 percent use social media as part of their marketing strategies, a full 72 percent have plans in place to increase their social media investments. Obviously, most of those investments are going to be tied to lead-generation activities, but many of them are going to discover the critical role social media now plays in customer support.

Supporting Customers in Facebook and via @DellCares in Twitter [Dell, July 23, 2010]

People who have been following Dell’s progression in social media know that we are in the midst of transitioning from a centralized team that carried out all social media efforts to a more decentralized hub and spoke model. It’s really about scaling social media. For us to scale our efforts, we need to make social media a core part of Dell’s business functions. In Dell’s case, it’s clear that providing support for our customers in the digital realm is one of the most vital aspects of our overall social media strategy.

Dell Social Media Ground Control

The image above is one that I’ve discussed for a while. The Customer Service piece (highlighted in blue) is the part I want to focus on today. We are in the midst of growing that team, which is part of members from our Technical Support and Customer Care organizations. Overall, they are responsible for replying to requests for service in a variety of places, from our own sites like the community forumand Direct2Dell. But they also respond to third-party forums and blogs, and help support customers in specific social networks. Two of the most prevalent social networks we’re actively engaging with customers in are in Facebook and Twitter. That’s where I’ll focus the rest of this post.

More information: Importance of Social Media For Customer Service [Aug 22, 2011]

The Evolution of Corporate Social Listening: Adobe, Comcast, Domino’s & Walmart [July 15, 2011]

At Dell, social media is a key pillar of communication and an integral part of Dell’s launch of the new “The power to do more” brand campaign. Here, social media experts talk about how the emergence of social media plays an increasingly important role in the day to day business of their companies.

Dell-Commissioned Study Reveals Companies That Listen Realize Business Results [July 13, 2011]

While making strong progress, businesses are still lagging behind their customers, 80 percent of whom use social media:

  • 50 percent of companies surveyed say their social media efforts are serious but not a core function
  • 16 percent reward customers whose ideas they use
  • Only 6 percent claim that their companies’ listening and engagement initiatives are very integrated

But companies’ investment in listening is on the rise and the benefits are tangible:

  • 64 percent of respondents are incorporating customer feedback into products or services
  • 76 percent distribute customer feedback internally
  • 31 percent are enhancing sales by offering incentive programs for customers who engage online, including deals and discounts

The publication of the “Listening and Engaging in the Digital Marketing Age” study coincides with the US introduction of Dell’s corporate brand platform, “The power to do more.” Dell began as a direct provider of great PC hardware and has long played a key role in pioneering online commerce. In recent years, Dell has been recognized as a social media innovator, using online networks to connect even more deeply with customers. “The Power to Do More” is a fully-integrated marketing campaign focused on helping businesses and technology professionals achieve more in their daily work. In the coming months, Dell business segments will communicate their solutions under this overarching platform. For example, Dell’s consumer business recently previewed its new advertising campaign entitled “More You.”