India is driving a global transformation for us: Jennifer Felch, Dell

Jennifer Felch, Dell Digital Office of the CIO, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate and Supply Chain, Strategy and Business Operations talks about the important role India playing in the digital landscape. 

Dell_Exec_Portraits_jenniferfelch00777.jpg

As a leader at the Dell Office of the CIO, Jennifer Felch drives strategy, delivery and operations for Dell’s corporate functions, order and supply chain management systems that process and fulfill millions of global customer orders annually. 

She leads the Business Architecture Office, which advances Dell’s strategic, cross-functional business and digital transformation initiatives. She also manages Dell Digital team’s portfolio governance and vendor management organizations.

An industry veteran, Felch dramatically improved the order experience for businesses across the company and held several global business architecture, supply chain and factory operations roles. 

In an exclusive interview with IDG India, Felch shared her views on the latest trends, topics and plans for India.  

How does the current Digital Landscape – India vs Global look like? Please highlight some interesting anecdotes.

Conceptually, the world that we’re all facing has very similar issues. How do we evolve quickly enough, how do we respond to competitive landscapes, how do we deal with security?

...We are here because of the talent that we have. It’s been really impressive and I don’t ever see it slowing down. India is looked at as a hub of innovation for in the Dell world.
Jennifer Felch
Senior Vice President, Dell Digital Office of the CIO

Everyone should be concerned about security. But, we actually commissioned a study with Vanson Bourne. I’m not sure if we’ve talked about it, but it actually has some great data about differences from India and global.

In India, there is 68 percent experienced significant industry disruption taking over in the last 3 years, compared to the 50 percent globally. So, we are seeing more disruption of how the given industries are operating in India.

62 percent say they don’t know what the industry will look like in 3 years. That’s only 48 percent globally. 62 percent can see that they may be obsolete in 3-5 years. So I guess that probably lines up. If they’re not sure what the industry would look like in 3 years, they’re not sure that they’re going to be a part of it either, which also can increase over globally. And then 81 percent have witnessed new competitors, compared to 62 percent around the globe. So there are some really interesting dynamics in India about the evolving landscape. There are IT leaders within India and around the globe who are quite aware of what’s going on in the industry, and how quickly it’s moving. 

These numbers say that things are going to change. Now, I think on a really positive side, there is a lot of engineering excellence across India. And we are well prepared to respond to that. There’s change on all fronts. The standard by which you create a customer experience is - everybody wants it to be simple.

The tolerance for putting up with wasteful actions is very low across the globe. A lot of the global transformation roles, people who are making the transformation - are actually led from India. It’s not just engineering, but lot of leadership roles too are coming from India. So that’s a big change, India is driving a global transformation for us. 

What lessons has Dell learnt through its own transformation journey? Can you share some insights about the CIO office at Dell and your focus areas? How are you helping Dell transform itself first before going to the customers?

We more than just try it out. We actually have to lead the way. So if we look within IT but across the whole company, the things we talk about in the IT transformation, we usually talk about 4 aspects – IT transformation, Workforce transformation, Security transformation and Digital transformation. So, from an IT standpoint, we ourselves are leading our own IT transformation.

We’re building out our modern datacenter, we use all of the Dell products which is, honestly, just fantastic. Our solution set got so much stronger with the acquisition of EMC, that we love the products, love the fact that we get to use them every day. And building out the modern datacenter really helps us to set the standard for what our customers are doing.

So, Dell is a pretty action oriented company. We’ll do it alongside our customers - we’ll try to get there first, so they can learn from what we experience. 

We have our IT transformation, and we have the Workforce transformation as well. For Dell that means giving people the best equipment and the easiest way to do their jobs. In our product suite, the offerings go all the way from the edge through the core of the infrastructure on to the cloud. In fact, we get feedback from different users all the time about not only the application set, but the experience that we’re creating for every single employee within the company. 

What is your expectation from the Indian market in 2019 from an IT perspective?

From an IT perspective, we have incredible people here in India across our broader IT organization. And we expect that we’ll continue to grow and develop our presence there. We are here because of the talent that we have. It’s been really impressive and I don’t ever see it slowing down. India is looked at as a hub of innovation for in the Dell world. A lot of innovative work is happening out of India. 

Edge computing is gaining a lot of significance across various verticals. How is Dell aligning to this trend with its intelligent edge solutions?

We are the only company that has that full suite - from the edge all the way through to the core, to the cloud. The amount of data that is being consumed from edge devices just continues to grow.

All that data needs to be processed, so there are two things that are happening - one is accumulating data that is going to the core over to the cloud so that you can do analytics on it and make good decisions. But the other thing that’s changing is actually putting that compute power at the edge. So you can actually make decisions at the point of capture. 

Dell Technologies recently acquired Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Certification for SAP HANA Production Environments. How is it going to benefit customers?

I think it’s great for customers because when you think about using a product like SAP HANA, for most IT leaders you want that to be a great experience for your business.

That hyper converge infrastructure is defined to work with that specific work load. So you’ve got your flash storage. The HANA solution being an in-memory solution is a great application. You combine it with appropriate infrastructure and you create a really compelling experience. It makes it easy for customers and that’s the goal.

It’s a good partnership with SAP. The core architecture of the in-memory database sits with the HCI very well because you can expand the compute power, and it’s all flashed. So it just gels very well with the in-memory database like HANA.

One mostly hears only good things about HCI adoption, but there are also things IT leaders must watch out for – cost, and the right solution for their workloads. What would your checklist be as an IT leader if you were looking at infrastructure transformation?

When we look at our overall infrastructure, we look at the dynamics of the workloads. Are they compute heavy? Are they network heavy? Are they processing transactions?

We even have things that are really graphics heavy. We try to map out what’s the appropriate infrastructure for them. What’s the appropriate location for them?

So I’ll give you some examples. In our factories we actually want to have the infrastructure that sits within the four walls of the factory. So there is not a dependency on everything going back to a central datacenter. That’s a perfect example for HCI. It’s self-contained - you can fit it into a physical space and that works out great. The checklist would be to figure out the demands of the applications as demonstrated by the use and then design your infrastructure around it. 

Can you highlight some important technology which needs more focus in coming years? 

One of the most important things you will see us focusing on right now is actually the discipline of software engineering.

For us - the transition from an IT organization that takes packaged apps, integrates them, contracts with consultants to maybe do some of the heavy lifting, is the IT organization of the past. For us it is about how do you build great products. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t use packaged apps. We still use packaged applications. They serve a great function.

But that discipline about how are we designing the user experience, how are we designing the products, how are we designing the data are critical because those are the things that allow us to then use machine learning because we have nice data sets that we can apply and use those algorithms on.

We can build the AI models because we actually understand that process and we understand the rules that maybe put into place for them. We understand what data we need to capture from our Edge devices that will fuel the processes which you can learn from. If you know where you want to be, then you can set up the right processes and do it quickly. Instead of waiting for someone else to build the product. 

India is driving a global transformation for us: Jennifer Felch, Dell

Jennifer Felch, Dell Digital Office of the CIO, Senior Vice President, Global Corporate and Supply Chain, Strategy and Business Operations talks about the important role India playing in the digital landscape. 

Dell_Exec_Portraits_jenniferfelch00777.jpg

As a leader at the Dell Office of the CIO, Jennifer Felch drives strategy, delivery and operations for Dell’s corporate functions, order and supply chain management systems that process and fulfill millions of global customer orders annually. 

She leads the Business Architecture Office, which advances Dell’s strategic, cross-functional business and digital transformation initiatives. She also manages Dell Digital team’s portfolio governance and vendor management organizations.

An industry veteran, Felch dramatically improved the order experience for businesses across the company and held several global business architecture, supply chain and factory operations roles. 

In an exclusive interview with IDG India, Felch shared her views on the latest trends, topics and plans for India.  

How does the current Digital Landscape – India vs Global look like? Please highlight some interesting anecdotes.

Conceptually, the world that we’re all facing has very similar issues. How do we evolve quickly enough, how do we respond to competitive landscapes, how do we deal with security?

...We are here because of the talent that we have. It’s been really impressive and I don’t ever see it slowing down. India is looked at as a hub of innovation for in the Dell world.
Jennifer Felch
Senior Vice President, Dell Digital Office of the CIO

Everyone should be concerned about security. But, we actually commissioned a study with Vanson Bourne. I’m not sure if we’ve talked about it, but it actually has some great data about differences from India and global.

In India, there is 68 percent experienced significant industry disruption taking over in the last 3 years, compared to the 50 percent globally. So, we are seeing more disruption of how the given industries are operating in India.

62 percent say they don’t know what the industry will look like in 3 years. That’s only 48 percent globally. 62 percent can see that they may be obsolete in 3-5 years. So I guess that probably lines up. If they’re not sure what the industry would look like in 3 years, they’re not sure that they’re going to be a part of it either, which also can increase over globally. And then 81 percent have witnessed new competitors, compared to 62 percent around the globe. So there are some really interesting dynamics in India about the evolving landscape. There are IT leaders within India and around the globe who are quite aware of what’s going on in the industry, and how quickly it’s moving. 

These numbers say that things are going to change. Now, I think on a really positive side, there is a lot of engineering excellence across India. And we are well prepared to respond to that. There’s change on all fronts. The standard by which you create a customer experience is - everybody wants it to be simple.

The tolerance for putting up with wasteful actions is very low across the globe. A lot of the global transformation roles, people who are making the transformation - are actually led from India. It’s not just engineering, but lot of leadership roles too are coming from India. So that’s a big change, India is driving a global transformation for us. 

What lessons has Dell learnt through its own transformation journey? Can you share some insights about the CIO office at Dell and your focus areas? How are you helping Dell transform itself first before going to the customers?

We more than just try it out. We actually have to lead the way. So if we look within IT but across the whole company, the things we talk about in the IT transformation, we usually talk about 4 aspects – IT transformation, Workforce transformation, Security transformation and Digital transformation. So, from an IT standpoint, we ourselves are leading our own IT transformation.

We’re building out our modern datacenter, we use all of the Dell products which is, honestly, just fantastic. Our solution set got so much stronger with the acquisition of EMC, that we love the products, love the fact that we get to use them every day. And building out the modern datacenter really helps us to set the standard for what our customers are doing.

So, Dell is a pretty action oriented company. We’ll do it alongside our customers - we’ll try to get there first, so they can learn from what we experience. 

We have our IT transformation, and we have the Workforce transformation as well. For Dell that means giving people the best equipment and the easiest way to do their jobs. In our product suite, the offerings go all the way from the edge through the core of the infrastructure on to the cloud. In fact, we get feedback from different users all the time about not only the application set, but the experience that we’re creating for every single employee within the company. 

What is your expectation from the Indian market in 2019 from an IT perspective?

From an IT perspective, we have incredible people here in India across our broader IT organization. And we expect that we’ll continue to grow and develop our presence there. We are here because of the talent that we have. It’s been really impressive and I don’t ever see it slowing down. India is looked at as a hub of innovation for in the Dell world. A lot of innovative work is happening out of India. 

Edge computing is gaining a lot of significance across various verticals. How is Dell aligning to this trend with its intelligent edge solutions?

We are the only company that has that full suite - from the edge all the way through to the core, to the cloud. The amount of data that is being consumed from edge devices just continues to grow.

All that data needs to be processed, so there are two things that are happening - one is accumulating data that is going to the core over to the cloud so that you can do analytics on it and make good decisions. But the other thing that’s changing is actually putting that compute power at the edge. So you can actually make decisions at the point of capture. 

Dell Technologies recently acquired Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Certification for SAP HANA Production Environments. How is it going to benefit customers?

I think it’s great for customers because when you think about using a product like SAP HANA, for most IT leaders you want that to be a great experience for your business.

That hyper converge infrastructure is defined to work with that specific work load. So you’ve got your flash storage. The HANA solution being an in-memory solution is a great application. You combine it with appropriate infrastructure and you create a really compelling experience. It makes it easy for customers and that’s the goal.

It’s a good partnership with SAP. The core architecture of the in-memory database sits with the HCI very well because you can expand the compute power, and it’s all flashed. So it just gels very well with the in-memory database like HANA.

One mostly hears only good things about HCI adoption, but there are also things IT leaders must watch out for – cost, and the right solution for their workloads. What would your checklist be as an IT leader if you were looking at infrastructure transformation?

When we look at our overall infrastructure, we look at the dynamics of the workloads. Are they compute heavy? Are they network heavy? Are they processing transactions?

We even have things that are really graphics heavy. We try to map out what’s the appropriate infrastructure for them. What’s the appropriate location for them?

So I’ll give you some examples. In our factories we actually want to have the infrastructure that sits within the four walls of the factory. So there is not a dependency on everything going back to a central datacenter. That’s a perfect example for HCI. It’s self-contained - you can fit it into a physical space and that works out great. The checklist would be to figure out the demands of the applications as demonstrated by the use and then design your infrastructure around it. 

Can you highlight some important technology which needs more focus in coming years? 

One of the most important things you will see us focusing on right now is actually the discipline of software engineering.

For us - the transition from an IT organization that takes packaged apps, integrates them, contracts with consultants to maybe do some of the heavy lifting, is the IT organization of the past. For us it is about how do you build great products. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t use packaged apps. We still use packaged applications. They serve a great function.

But that discipline about how are we designing the user experience, how are we designing the products, how are we designing the data are critical because those are the things that allow us to then use machine learning because we have nice data sets that we can apply and use those algorithms on.

We can build the AI models because we actually understand that process and we understand the rules that maybe put into place for them. We understand what data we need to capture from our Edge devices that will fuel the processes which you can learn from. If you know where you want to be, then you can set up the right processes and do it quickly. Instead of waiting for someone else to build the product.