Dell Technologies has had a terrific year, adding over USD 11 billion dollars to its top line last year, with strong sales through its channel ecosystem. “Not only is our portfolio strong, not only is the market good, but also, our channel partners are recognizing our work to improve their experience with us and to deliver a simple, predictable and profitable program, says Global Channel Chief Joyce Mullen in an exclusive interaction with ChannelWorld.
Joyce Mullen, president, global channel, OEM and IoT solutions, Dell Technologies talked about the channel plans, technology trends and company’s future roadmap.
During the recent global partner broadcast, you mentioned Dell Technologies aim to cross USD 70 billion in channel sales in future. What will be the catalysts in a world where the business environment, channel partners and Dell itself is changing?
It is a USD 3 trillion addressable market that has plenty of space to grow. And the reasons include great portfolio and continuous investment in R&D by Dell Technologies, and the fact that businesses around the world are thinking differently about technology - as not only to help the business function, but IT and technology are becoming the business.
Dell Technologies’ Channel Chief: 3 Priorities in 2019
1. Make it easier for partners to do more business with us, which is about operational issues and simplicity.
2. Help customers and partners transact across company’s strategically aligned businesses.
3. Work more towards helping channels understand, monetize and deploy emerging tech.
We will continue to see pretty significant investments because you don’t have very many options. You have to make the investment (in IT) because if you don’t and if somebody else does, they change the industry leaving you behind. A series of surveys point to the fact that almost half of our customers are quite concerned about their company’s digital future and they are a little bit nervous, which means they look to us and our partners to help drive that change. It’s a combination of our market position, but also a realization that if you don’t make these investments as a customer, you risk being left behind.
Dell Technologies has come a long way as a direct-to-customer company to go the channel route first with PCs in 2007. Today, reportedly 60 percent to 70 percent of overall sales are through the channel route globally. Will you stretch this further?
We don’t set a mixed target, quite on purpose. There are two ways to get to the mix, you grow one part and you decline the other part. But we want to grow both sides (direct and indirect) and we have a pretty highly differentiated go to market strategy that is working well.
We combine the world’s most amazing, most pervasive direct sales force and the world’s best channel team, channel community because customers can choose how they want to be served.
Won’t the additional thrust on direct sales make your channels insecure in a way?
It is hard to call a company direct when you have USD 50 billion through channel sales bookings last year. And of course we back that up with really specific programs to make sure that we are predictable partners to our channel partners. We do that through fastidious attention to rules of engagement, robust registration process, and effective programs around account planning.
We launched a series of new programs this year that are really channel led, we call them partner preferred. We have to keep working every single day to earn their continued trust on what we will do and do what you say.
Talking about the new DELL EMC partner program, the key tenets of being simple, predictable and profitable haven’t changed. What are your mantras for channel partners as they handhold their customers on digital transformation journey.
Yes, we are not changing those tenets but we strive to deliver the best on them. I think one of the things that our partners do really well is they listen carefully to customers and deliver ‘business outcome based’ technologies or solutions. That usually requires a level of services and consultancy approach they are in a unique position to deliver, and we are the trusted infrastructure provider underneath.
The simplicity is that we can support as an entire infrastructure transformation with single ‘end to end’ OEM, which is the heart of the strategy. Our partners begin with their own value, and we are a key component, but the customers don’t get the desired outcome unless the channel partner builds that services capability to the finish.
What are the overall trends in the channel community globally in terms of legacy hardware-centric channels versus emerging ones like born in the cloud channels, MSPs, CSPs? How do you maintain an equilibrium between the two?
We have that conversation a lot internally, and today we try to sort of assign a label to our partners. We are aware that the lines between resellers, CSPs, systems integrators and even OEMs are really blurring. We have great businesses in each one of those categories, but there’s an opportunity for us to figure out the merging that allows us to serve partners as they expect, and not as per the applied designation. I believe those are business model changes, and not partner changes per se. Nobody has a stronger ecosystem than Dell Technologies with great strength across all mentioned categories.
We don’t have a lot of partners or a lot of customers saying - I wish I had more suppliers. I mean it just becomes complex, it’s expensive and you have to learn lot of different things. Obviously, Michael Dell bet the tech vendor with more pervasive, broader portfolio will win over time and we certainly see consolidation in almost every market that we operate in – albeit through our channels.
What about enhancing the skill sets of channel partners especially on AI, IoT, SDx? The 2019 IDG SOTC Survey indicates shortage of skillsets in these new tech. Do you see the lack in the channel eco-system too?
5 Reasons Channels should work with Dell Technologies: Joyce Mullen
1. Clear focus as the essential ‘end to end’ infrastructure company delivering innovative solutions for customers.
2. The messaging on digital transformation, IT transformation, security transformation and workforce transformation is resonating well.
3. Upsell and cross sell opportunities across Dell Technologies’ seven companies and its portfolio.
4. Great team leaders across regions resulted in USD 50 bn channel sales orders last year.
5. Extensive R&D investments to introduce new solutions for customers’ digital transformation journey.
It’s an opportunity I think. We listed three strategic comparatives at Dell Technologies World last year. First, to make it easier to do more business with us, which is about operational issues and simplicity. The second one is to help our customers, our partners transact across our strategically aligned businesses that comes to ‘end to end’ value prop. The third one wherein we have to work more is help channels understand, monetize and deploy emerging technologies. We are building competencies around some of those new emerging technologies like IoT. We are launching products that have AI built into them and there's training associated with that.
We’ve actually had a bunch of conversations with partners recently, and we can help them build as strong businesses which is the best practices sharing on HR topics like recruiting and training and talent development. We obviously have an investment that we make in our own people systems and it’s probably bigger than any specific partner will have. So, how do we leverage that? Another thing which is pretty exciting is that we can help our partners connect with one another to a large extent. For example, for partners who are not services providers, but they need a service provider partner to support the customer need, how do we connect them? There is large potential in there, but we just got to figure out the market.
Will HCI emerge as a goldmine for channel partners or will it cannibalize traditional hardware sales?
We see widespread adoption of HCI and we are also witnessing the storage market grow overall. It’s sort of like virtualization that happened in the server market. One could argue as there will be a depletion in server business but we never saw that happen. Because with so much data being created, there is so much more need for storage. With AI solutions, the level of data that a machine can digest and assess is much greater than a human mind and hence need for more storage. I am not worried about storage in terms of the market growth and dynamics. And HCI will become mainstream too as per the organizations’ IT infra and channel partners are making good money with expertise in HCI domain.
Another change at the buyer end has been that IT demand is not entirely emerging from CIO and IT team, but also from LOBs, CxOs, BUs. Should channels continue their talk and approach with Man Friday – The CIO?
Channels interact with both sets of executives. I don’t think that the importance is completely diluted of a CIO because he is still a validator while you need to network with the other set of the group, the people in the organization that becomes the new lead. He is a big influencer or a decision maker to a large extent.
Somebody has to ensure that all those business units don’t go crazy doing nutty stuff, but build separate project scope, which will be integrated by nobody except for the CIOs that includes maintaining the security and compliance with the overall organization.
Why should enterprise channel partners work with Dell Technologies besides your obvious competition names in the industry?
“We want the channel to help us increase velocity in the market. They also need to sort out some of the more commoditized products to improve their profitability through services and support.”
We are clearly focused on being the essential infrastructure company and that means in connecting our CSG capabilities, storage capabilities and server capabilities, among others to deliver great solutions for customers. The combination of our companies, and the messages around digital transformation and IT transformation, application transformation, security transformation and workforce transformation is resonating.
We want the channel to help us increase velocity in the market. They also need to sort out some of the more commoditized products to improve their profitability through services and support. And channel partners have to acquire new customers to increase the reach of Dell Technologies across the region.
Pitch Dell Technologies in short sentence if I want to be your channel partner.
Dell Technologies has the best portfolio and the best strategy to make you and your customer successful with digital transformation.