Dell EMC’s new partner program combines the best of legacies

Tian Beng Ng, Senior Vice President and General Manager - Channels, Asia Pacific Japan at Dell EMC, one of the key persons behind the new Dell EMC partner program, talks why the channels should be taking to this in a big way.

Dell EMC’s merger caused a stir in the IT industry since this was perhaps one of the biggest deals in the tech space. Most stakeholders, including the partners wondered what the merger meant to them and their relationships so far. Dell EMC’s new combined partner program has intended to answer some of these questions.

A lot has transpired since the Dell EMC merger. Dell EMC has launched a combined channel program amid a lot of fanfare and industry expectations.  How did you go about the process? 

Since the merger happened between Dell EMC, we’ve been really working hard to launch our new program. Actually it started last year, probably around September. We started to meet many of our partners around the world to get feedback on what they liked about the Dell program and the EMC program because we were essentially attempting to bring two established programs together to launch a new program. So, we went around the world to different locations to get partners feedback. In APJ, we did this conversation with partners at an event in Macau.

It’s a lot more money that we are putting on the table for partners to earn. We made the rebate program a lot richer too. Partners can actually earn 1.5 to even 8 times more in terms of rebate dollars.


Tian Beng Ng, SVP & GM-Channels, APJ, Dell EMC

What was partner input for the new program? What parts came from the legacy partner programs?

Whenever we talk about this feedback and when we came up to design our new Dell EMC program, the strategy was to pick the best of both programs. For example, a lot of partners liked that the Dell program was quite profitable. They said the Dell program was flexible. We took that when we designed our new program. It was felt in the EMC program, the training was really good. So we also took that part from the EMC best practice. 

They also liked that the EMC program was more predictable by virtue of the six-month target piece. On the Dell side, we gave our partners only quarterly numbers every three months. And we assessed them every three months. So we gave our partners a target - we gave them a six-monthly target and put in place an annual audit mechanism, like it was done in EMC. 

Whatever products are selling there is only one deal registration system. There is only one partner portal - whether you are legacy EMC or Dell partner, whichever company you used to work with and whatever products you sell.  

We also introduced some features in the partner portal such as a rebate calculator - partners can actually now go in to the tool where they can key in for themselves and effortlessly see how much money they have or are going to make through using the rebate calculator. 

So, how were EMC partners brought into the stream?

Many EMC partners or anybody who was moving in over here had been working on some of the storage accounts – they did not know what would be the fate of their accounts, the margins and investments. 

So, we introduced a component called the Line of Business Incumbency. In storage channels, in the event a partner has sold into that account it remains protected for that partner all through this program. We went a step ahead in that and say if he brings in a new account, the six months is incumbent for him. 

We extended the LOBI to the server accounts and the client side also, basically to the larger Dell-EMC portfolio. 

What elements of the famed EMC channel enablement - training and certification - have been incorporated into the new program?

EMC is very well known in the industry for really providing superlative channel enablement to the partners. And to be candid, on the Dell side, we were not as good in providing this piece. 

So now we’ve taken a lot of the content, the people we had to train the EMC partners have now come in as part of the Dell EMC program. The content is a combination of both online face- to- face training. And another good example is that in the past in Dell we used to do the certification based on the partner organization. In India unfortunately, attrition is a bit high. We realized that if we were to continue certifying the company, we would have a big challenge. 

So the new approach puts talent in the hands of the individual. 

We borrowed the EMC way of now certifying by individual. So, wherever the individual goes, the certification actually follows. This is more valuable now, because it is akin to the Microsoft or the CISCO type of individual certification. 

The previous Dell India structure had Dell-led, partner-led and the distribution business. Now, the entire market of commercial and enterprise has been thrown open to partners.

Tian Beng Ng, SVP & GM-Channels, APJ, Dell EMC

Dell EMC’s new partner program champions the back-end rebate. What has been done?

We made an announcement that annually we are investing USD 150 million more in incremental rebate dollars globally versus the previous year. This includes the MDF.

So it’s a lot more money that we are putting on the table for partners to earn. We made the rebate program a lot richer also. Partners can actually earn 1.5 to even 8 times more in terms of rebate dollars.

And as you know, the program was launched in February at the start of the Dell financial year. 

How are partners in India reacting to the new program? 

There is a huge excitement, since it has set in a realization as to the kind of dollars invested in that program in case people execute their numbers - which are reasonable, you can go in for making extra dollars. The program is very comprehensive. It covers right from a base to growth to LoBs (Line of Business). 

So, a partner can decide which areas to focus on. So similarly, on an infrastructure side that is, in compute, storage networking etc, a partner can go up to making anything between 15 to 18 percent of rebate. 

And I think another big change in India that we have done is that the previous Dell India structure, we had Dell-led, partner-led and the distribution business. Now, the entire market of commercial and enterprise has now been thrown open to partners. 

And we are rebating that turnover in case they are qualifying for the quota under the new program. So, it’s a huge change from the previous structure. 

Previously, partners selling into the Dell space earlier were actually not given rebates and now they are. So therefore partners are really happy to get access to the larger market in India. 

Who are going to be some of your key channel players in India - have you got a targeted list of people on your wish list or some people from legacy companies coming in, going out? 

Every single large partner that you can think of works with us from the last 2.5 years. 

So, in the new merger, in the new company formation Dell EMC, some of the EMC partners they were most of it if you ask me, 80 percent were already working with us and 20 percent were not. So they will start working with us. And with the other 20 percent, we will try to work to see that they start selling their entire Dell portfolio soon or most of the important ones. 

What is the approach towards the inactive partners?

We have carefully selected taking out the data of the last 2.5 years data - there were certain eligibility criteria both sides that partners had to fulfil which was either in terms of competencies or in terms of the revenue thresholds - in client business or in infra business. 

So if people haven’t done what we thought they ought to be while we were making up this new program that 2.5 years then they are not likely to be in the partner fold anymore. But that number is not very large. In certain places, we have relaxed the norms a bit and given another 6 months’ time for partners to come good.

At this point of time, the whole idea of Dell EMC, HP and CISCO in the infrastructure space is strong in the market. There’s a conflict in certain areas, especially in hyper convergence and storage. What has been the Dell EMC partner portfolio conflict management approach? 

One or two cases in such a huge market is going to happen. We respect the partner’s decision in such cases. But if you look at it from a business standpoint, it is pretty easy right? You would want to work with a company like Dell EMC and again I don’t want to sound arrogant. 

The cloud infrastructure market is clearly that of the top three players, CISCO, HP and Dell EMC. Your thoughts?

We are number one in most product categories--in converge, cloud, and datacenter. Recently, we came number one in services worldwide. We are mostly number one in most of the categories. Some of our competitors have a different strategy. But our strategy is we believe in having one company provide the whole portfolio.