I’m at Dell World, where Michael Dell is doing the opening press keynote. He is having a good year. He started by pointing out that he isn’t splitting his company because that type of move isn’t driven by customers. He pointed out that his company’s PC market growth is just below 20 percent year-over-year, while others are closer to 2 percent worldwide, on average. Being privately held is apparently agreeing with his company, and he looks a lot happier than some of his peers do at the moment, because he is able to consistently showcase his firm’s values. This is in sharp contrast to HP’s CEO, who has to explain in press events why her “better together” strategy of a few short months ago has now become “better apart,” and in doing so is creating the impression that she is more politician than executive leader.
Now I’ll cover the highlights.
HP Is the Foil
It is clear early on in the Michael Dell keynote that HP is the target—the example of a firm being poorly run at the expense of its customers. HP makes an ideal foil because it has been doing a very poor job of controlling the message to the public after announcing its split. The stock market, which initially embraced the change, reversed because HP couldn’t present a credible argument for why the split made sense for both of the new firms. I expect that Dell is joined by all of HP’s competitors in what will likely be a feeding frenzy on HP’s customers as a result.
Power in the Parts
From partners to acquisitions, Dell has a compelling and rather unique place in the market. The company isn’t at semi-war with Oracle or Microsoft at the moment and its acquisitions, at least over the last five years or so, have mostly turned out to be positive and unusually successful. Looking specifically at HP, which appears to be at war with everyone and whose acquisitions have mostly been disasters, Dell conveys a powerful message of consistency, competence and cooperation, recognizing that customers don’t want conflict between vendors. They want their vendors to get the job done.
Dell has completed a massive survey of its customers and found that when it comes to security, policies don’t work; only the practice of driving compliance down into the organization and assuring that it is everyone’s job works. This is important because firms are even more aggressively moving to the cloud and increasingly implementing mobile devices, which are creating additional management and security risks.
The survey found that most firms are using Big Data fairly successfully. While the majority had captured massive amounts of data, the majority of firms surveyed weren’t able to do much with it. This was due to the lack of skills in both understanding the systems and how to get actionable results from the data.
Dell Breadth and Range
Part of the talk was on the range of solutions that are being presented here at Dell World and the vast number of customers that have been implementing them. Much of this show will showcase the individual successes that are driving Dell’s rapid growth and performance. While he didn’t cite specific numbers, Michael Dell represented that the firm’s growth exceeded all other firms in this space and that emerging markets, such as India, were now growing vertically. Dell recognizes that you have to be end-to-end or it is the end, which I think is another subtle jab at HP.
Dell is increasingly aligned with Microsoft, VMware and Red Hat (OpenStack) for converged infrastructure and it is building its own platforms as well. This is a massive effort and represents one of the biggest opportunities facing the company. Dell is currently adding the major cloud providers into a set of integrated cloud services with central common billing so firms can pick the services they want dynamically, assure policy, and minimize both complexity and related cost.
Dell’s CMO, Karen Quintos, is one of Dell’s strategic resources, not just working on Dell’s marketing but also in showcasing how Dell’s technology can be used to help other CMOs in their digital transformation. In addition, she has been instrumental in both defining the solution and in helping close related business, which is surprisingly unusual in this market but should be a best practice.
Wrapping Up: A Year of Being Private, Oh My!
Michael Dell is having a bit of fun at HP’s expense, but the reality is that he has a very strong execution story to tell. After going private, his business is growing more rapidly than any of his peers’ companies. He also appears far more able to focus on business opportunities and related customer needs than his peers, who have to increasingly focus much of their time on activist investors who appear to simply want to destroy firms this cycle.
Overall, Dell is in an enviable position. The company is growing rapidly; it has both the advantages of a pre-public company in terms of focus and a large public company in terms of resources. This a very powerful place to be; what a difference a year makes.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+