Dell Tech World 2020: Diversity, Inclusion & Empathy

    This week is Dell Technologies World, and this, I think, is the first of the second wave of events where the vendors are beginning to truly get how to optimize their events for the streaming technology that has become our new normal. Michael Dell opened with a perspective on the world after a video that suggested that we all work together to make this new world better.

    There was plenty of cool technology, but what was most interesting was the company’s engagement in pressing issues and its empathy. It made for a more engaging event too.

    Let’s talk about the message and practices highlighted by the Dell keynotes.

    Michael Dell and the Data Era

    Michael opened with several customer references, but having a guest appearance by the CEO of Verizon Business was on point, showcasing how 5G could be used to develop applications and solutions we’ve never seen before. Using AR and VR images, robotics, remote customers enjoying entertainment, and other examples, she argued that this technology is changing the world. She thanked Dell for the help they’ve provided to Verizon and their help building an inclusive future available to all.

    Michael returned to talk about how the automation and innovation that Dell is providing is helping its customers advance their strategic agendas. He then went through a primer of some of Dell’s other offerings, like their Project Apex effort, working toward everything from Dell being offered as a service. He highlighted that Dell is in nearly 100% of the Fortune 500. Dell hopes that people are confronting the hard truths tied to current events and that people will use their empathy to help navigate this new future.

    The company is moving toward Dell’s Social Impact goals, called Moonshot. One goal is that they want to transform a billion lives through technology. Education is the critical part and problem during the pandemic, so Dell highlighted an effort called “Student Tech Crew,” which took broken hardware in schools and taught the students how to repair it and provide the related PCs to those needing them. Dell certifies 90, who train 2,000, and those go on to train and help others. Dell is prioritizing skills training and resources to help students adapt and thrive in the new normal.

    Dell said we’re finding out “what happens when everyone works from home,” and the company is working to broaden access to critical services like healthcare and innovation.

    Dell highlighted other events that will be held at Dell World. Promoting other event sessions is a best practice. As Dell talked about the sessions and topics, these topics showed up underneath the window so observers could find related content.

    Jeff Clarke: Optimism Needed

    Jeff Clarke is the vice chairman of Dell Technologies and started with the concept that what the country needs is optimism. He said the future is now and is enabled by its distributed nature and enhanced by analytics. The Edge will become the center of gravity for Digital Transformation, and this new world will require new organizational structures and technology. Jeff referenced the Fourth Industrial Revolution as the event we are currently experiencing.

    The CEO of FedEx, Rob Carter, was interviewed by Jeff, who wanted Rob to talk about how technology and artificial intelligence play into FedEx’s strategy and operations. FedEx realized years ago that their center needed to be about innovation and technology and that the data surrounding a package may be more important than the package itself. Rob argues that while the cloud is essential, it is IoT devices that provide the interface between the cloud and reality. Many of the things being born by the next generation of this automated digital work bridge the cloud and reality like delivery robots, sorting equipment, and sensors. FedEx highlighted some of Dell’s offerings, arguing they were critical, as was Dell’s help, to assuring FedEx’s operations.

    Jeff then brought in Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, to talk about collaboration and innovation are driving their joint efforts forward. Pat spoke about the software-defined data center and provided a long list of customers benefiting from this joint work. Jeff introduced Project Monterey, a cohesive cross-IT effort connected to a partnership with NVIDIA to drive the data center’s future. Jeff talks about 5G as the Digital Fabric of this new data-centric era. Pat believes that 5G will eventually displace Wi-Fi globally, which will create some attractive operational and security opportunities and exposures that VMware and Dell are ramping up to address.

    Moving on to PCs, Jeff spoke to the advancements they are making with PCs, including new designs and AI capabilities. He then went through their server and storage capabilities backed up by their global sales and services organizations showcasing Dell’s significant size and capability.

    IDC predicts that services will deliver over 75% of the infrastructure at the Edge. Interspersed with topical videos, Jeff again spoke about Project Apex, which bridges private and public cloud models and provides the related capability. Starting with storage and eventually expanding across Dell’s portfolio, Dell helps manage everything for you, and admins can interact with a single console solution. This segment then took us to a demo of that console. The demo showcases an impressive breadth of decision capabilities based on the graphically represented data provided to the administrator.

    Jeff is a technology optimist and imagined a future where autonomous machines and technologies are ubiquitous.

    John Roese: The Future

    John Roese is the CTO for Dell Technology, and he took attendees through Dell’s view of the future. One of the more exciting demonstrations was a showcase of a future classroom. Each student gets a tailor-made education experience using AR and VR to bridge their location with the remotely located material. Real-time translation will allow classes to span the globe. Educators may be in the room or remote. Even students that are color blind can benefit from technologies that will emulate the missing colors.

    On the subject of the changing medical world, John said the goal is to provide the user with access to global resources, ensuring a timely and cost-effective solution to their medical problem. Even defining that problem will change as we move to automated remote sensors, allowing real-time telemetry to proactively deal with problems and provide timely remedies and help prevent the illness in the first place. AIs with access to the patents protected data will provide the augmented doctor with the information they need while freeing up the doctor to provide empathetic support for the patent.

    Transportation and Logistics was the next vertical industry that John spoke on. The future is about rethinking what is fixed and mobile in our world. For instance, rather than going to certain services, those services may come to you. Smart mobility will bring the experiences we need to us. I’m picturing a mobile doctor’s office where the doctor deals with most patents virtually, but where their attention is needed, they are automatically routed to the patent that needs it.

    John argues that Dell is the only company with the breadth to ensure that an IT team has the resources and help they need to transform for the digital age, with 60K professionals in 70 countries. The future of any organization is a winning vision and the capability to execute it, and John argues that Dell is uniquely equipped to help in that journey.

    Allison Dew: Passion and Perseverance

    Michael Dell introduced Allison Dew, Dell Technologies CMO, who interviewed Angele Duckworth, the Founder and CEO of Character Lab. Angele wrote the book “Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance” based on her interviews that highlighted that passion and perseverance were critical to career success and making a real difference. She highlighted “learned helplessness” based on animals’ studies in situations where they couldn’t predict bad outcomes. They became lethargic, didn’t want to eat, and were depressed. Now one out of three animals seemed to adapt and fought these tendencies. Applying it to people suggested a focus on things that could be changed as a stress reducer.

    The next topic was how Dell shifted to working from home and how Dell embracing this option before the pandemic served the company well during the pandemic. They pointed out that sports coaches seem to develop the skills to prepare for an unpredictable future best. The people who seem to do the best are folks who empathize with those sharing this experience and the passion for accomplishing the related task. Angela argued that one practice focuses on getting better over time but not perfect because striving to perfection leads to disappointment. This concept speaks to setting achievable goals and thinking of life more as a process to be experienced rather than a destination to be reached.

    Wrapping Up: Impressions

    Dell, coming in the second wave of virtual events, had the benefit of learning from what other firms had done. That learning was showcased at this keynote. Sessions tended to be reasonably short and exciting. There was a blend of speakers and videos that kept the content flowing, and there was considerable focus on the need for diversity, inclusion, and shared empathy. I would argue that one of the most powerful aspects of this event wasn’t the coverage of Dell’s products, services, partners, or even customers. This focus was on caring for people, whether they be employees or customers, during these challenging times that reflected Dell’s best. It seemed like the company cared, which may be the most significant advantage that Dell takes into this new normal.

    Rob Enderle
    As President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, Rob provides regional and global companies with guidance in how to create credible dialogue with the market, target customer needs, create new business opportunities, anticipate technology changes, select vendors and products, and practice zero dollar marketing. For over 20 years Rob has worked for and with companies like Microsoft, HP, IBM, Dell, Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, USAA, Texas Instruments, AMD, Intel, Credit Suisse First Boston, ROLM, and Siemens.

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