Dell Technologies has gone far beyond its roots as a PC upgrade business run out of Michael Dell’s dorm room. If you haven’t been paying attention, the company is now one of the biggest global IT products and services providers, with an impressive vision and roster of customers willing to sing its praises.
I was at Dell Technologies World 2022 this week and was impressed by the breadth and depth of the offerings I saw – and how deftly the company highlighted these achievements. For the channel, the biggest takeaways are that Dell is making cutting-edge technology like multi-cloud and data lakes easy for customers through an array of partnerships, and offering those services with value in mind.
CEO Michael Dell, one of my favorite people in tech, took the stage at the beginning of the event to talk about how we are increasingly becoming “explorers.” Technology is changing so quickly that we must constantly update our skills, capabilities and personal and professional vision to take advantage of these changes before someone else more effectively makes use of these opportunities and leaves us behind.
Dell has tried to follow that vision, and its purpose has evolved along with the company. Where it was once one of the fastest-growing PC companies, today it is a broad solutions provider that rivals the kind of breadth and capability that IBM had in its prime. In some ways, Dell Technologies is the new largest player in the technology space. To avoid IBM’s slide in the 1980s and 1990s, Dell has pivoted hard to technologies like the multi-cloud solutions that are so popular today.
Let’s take a closer look at what stood out to me at Dell Technologies World this week.
CVS Health, USAA Navigate Work-from-Home
It is always good to open a keynote with a customer to set the stage, and Dell opened with CVS Health’s CEO Karen Lynch. She praised Dell Technologies for coming through for CVS Health as they transitioned from work-as-normal to the work-from-home world that many still have in these pandemic times. Dell has a history of being very close to his company’s major customers, and this was a case in point. Getting another CEO to get on stage to praise you is often difficult, but this year, Dell proved itself as capable as even IBM in this regard.
USAA was next on stage. USAA boasts some of the most loyal and contented customers in the insurance space. Its customer satisfaction scores rival Apple’s at Apple’s best, and given its customer base, largely military and ex-military, USAA is a perfect advocate because it puts its customers first.
USAA CTO Jeff Calusinski got on stage (the CEO was delayed by weather) to praise Dell’s hardware, which the company used during the pandemic to ensure that its customers received timely services during both the shift to work-from-home and their return to the office. He also spoke of USAA’s layered approach to security, given that its military focus and huge customer base makes it a natural target for malicious actors. He praised Dell’s security support, which has prevented what otherwise might have been disastrous breaches.
Finally, he praised Dell’s help with USAA’s hybrid data approach, which needed to optimize performance while remaining secure and affordable so USAA’s costs and prices could remain competitive. If there is a customer advocate I’d rank at the top of the stack, both inside and outside of insurance, USAA would be it, and the company made a good case for Dell’s reputation as a value leader.
Solving Big Problems
As Michael Dell rolled out his keynote, a list of the areas in which Dell ranks #1 scrolled quickly across the screen, much too quickly for me to copy down. They had to run it fast as the instances of number 1 rankings was so incredibly long it would have taken up too much time otherwise. The goal was to make an impression, not prepare attendees for a quiz.
Dell mentioned that it was Dell’s scale and unique logistics resources that has allowed it to win this massive number of technology and sales performance categories during a time of shortage. It makes me wonder if automotive companies and firms in other industries experiencing massive shortages might have fared better if they had partnered with Dell on logistics.
But Dell’s bigger point – and that of Co-Chief Operating Officer Chuck Whitten – was to note the company’s role in helping to solve major global problems.
Whitten is new to the Dell stage, and he shared Michael Dell’s goal of driving human progress. Dell says its vision is to innovate so its customers can drive positive worldwide progress. Dell is focused on solving the most difficult problems facing its customers and society.
Whitten referred to the PC as the tool providing the gateway experience to the new hybrid world. (I should note here that Dell’s employees are still mostly working remotely and will remain so as long as they wish to. They don’t have to go into the office unless their unique job requires it.)
Whitten noted that GM has twin goals of creating cars that never crash and to gain leadership in electric vehicle technology. I’ve admittedly looked at and lusted a bit after several of GM’s upcoming cars (the electric Corvette and Larocque SUV, for instance) based on the Ultium platform. I should also share that at a prior Dell event, I fell in love with the Jaguar I-Pace, which I later bought and have been very pleased with. Dell World can be a very expensive event for me.
Whitten talked about Dell’s partnership with India’s Tata Trusts to enable the digital transformation of health services in that country and expand medical coverage of non-communicable diseases. These diseases kill 41 million people globally and represent 75% of human deaths. Dealing with this massive problem could extend human life while reducing related suffering. Ninety-four thousand medical personnel have been trained and are successfully addressing this problem. This effort showcases Dell’s intent to make the world a better place through technology.
Michael Dell talked about Dell’s support for Ukraine and its citizens. He has personally sent millions of dollars to assist the country and its citizens, with the full support of Dell employees, many of which were brought on stage and recognized for their work in providing help, services and capabilities. This is, to date, the strongest public show of support I’ve yet seen from any U.S. tech company. The inclusion of Dell employees made it clear this was no media event but a heartfelt desire to help the people in Ukraine.
Multi-Cloud and Services
The massive technology changes confronting enterprises was naturally a big focus of the event, and there too Dell had answers.
Whitten discussed Dell’s multi-cloud-by-default product strategy, which provides access to an ever-expanding selection of cloud providers, each of which contributes a unique set of innovations and advantages. That strategy gives Dell’s corporate clients access to the full architecture without the bewildering complexity that sometimes accompanies such structures. And best of all, the resulting experience is optimized and simplified without an adverse impact on cost or performance.
Whitten argued that the world needs multi-cloud-by-design, and Dell is delivering. From partnerships with Microsoft, VMware, Amazon and a variety of other third parties, Dell made several new-product announcements that will make use of these evolving technologies and the partners and Dell internal groups providing them.
APEX is Dell’s services unit. It’s a company-wide effort to shift Dell Technologies into more of a services company and away from product sales. It has been very successful largely because it shifts Dell’s focus from churning hardware and software to better assuring customer loyalty and retention. It ties the company more closely to its customers through these services than its old model did. Whitten announced Dell’s expansion of this service and new partnerships, like one with cloud data infrastructure provider Snowflake, to better address corporate needs that have evolved in this changing services and multi-cloud world. Based on the applause, the audience really loved this announcement.
Also read: Do Your Customers Need Multi-Cloud?
An Example for Other Companies
This was my first large-scale event this year, and I must admit being in large crowds again made me very nervous. The size of the audience was massive at this event, easily the biggest of any vendor event I’ve ever attended.
The keynote session highlighted an impressive set of very credible reference customers and conveyed insight into Dell’s goals and strategy. It hit all but one of the typical benchmark goals of any keynote covering current topical events. The only thing it missed on was driving people to the innovation showcase, though they kind of made up for that at the end by guiding the audience into that showcase as they exited the event.
In the end, Michael Dell and Chuck Whitten did an impressive job of telling Dell’s story, but the most impressive part was when they ended on Ukraine and the massive internal support for Dell’s efforts to help that country. Like many of you, I’m very troubled by what is happening there, and it’s heartening to see genuine corporate commitment to help.
Overall, the event was very nicely done, and set a strong example for other companies, both in and out of the industry.
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