The consensus among industry observers last summer is that Dell would have to add a line-up of services to its new products geared toward SMBs if it hoped to really crack the market, as I blogged back in July.
Unfortunately for Dell, service hasn't exactly been a strength, as evidenced by its poor showing in a survey by The Customer Respect Group earlier this year.
Still, the beleaguered PC manufacturer has bought several companies that could help it bolster its SMB services, including software asset management specialist ASAP, which it purchased last year for $134 million, and e-mail-as-a-service provider MessageOne, which Dell acquired earlier this year for $155 million. It also recently rolled out an electronics recycling program for SMBs, offering to dispose of used electronics for just $25 per item for small lots of gear.
In perhaps the biggest business-oriented change, Dell condensed more than 10 of its service offerings into two packages, Dell ProSupport for IT and ProSupport for End-Users, that can be tailored to meet customers' needs. The move was designed to improve turnaround times and fast-track requests for business customers, according to several published reports.
CEO Michael Dell emphasized his company's services push in an April 3 meeting with financial analysts, reports eWEEK. It saw a 9 percent increase in its service business in fiscal 2008, collecting $5.3 billion in revenue. And Dell predicts more growth this year. From the eWEEK article:
For every one dollar that companies spend on hardware, they will spend two dollars on services.
Dell intends to focus on five specific areas to help reverse its fortunes, according to the article: the global consumer market, enterprise businesses, notebooks, small and midsize businesses and emerging markets. Dell told analysts he doesn't think the enterprise business will grow as much this year as in previous years, and the company appears to be counting on consumers in non-U.S. markets and SMBs to help take up the slack.