Dell puts the focus on solutions

Dave Miketinac Dell

Dell Canada SMB chief Dave Miketinac

As rival HP awaits the final decision on the fate of its Personal Systems Group, Dell is stepping up and positioning itself as the industry player with the broadest array of solutions, a position that HP has traditionally trumpeted.

The message to partners is clear: Dell is asserting that it has the widest array of products in the industry, but is shifting its focus from the details of those products to the solutions created with them – and partners are an increasing part of crafting and realizing those solutions.

“We’ve got everything from the desktop to the data centre,” said Dave Miketinac, vice president and general manage of the small and medium business division of Dell Canada.

It echoes the themes of company founder Michael Dell, who used his recent Oracle OpenWorld keynote to focus on the breadth and depth of solutions Dell is offerings.

At the same time, Dell is ratcheting up its growing channel program, a major part of that solutions focus. For its most recent quarter, the company realized 27 per cent of its overall global revenues through the channel, still a small percentage, but a significant one for a company that was once synonymous with “direct-only.”

In fact, even where Dell Canada is hiring customer-facing staff for its SMB crew, Miketinac is making channel experience a priority as it sees more and more opportunities for direct teams and partners to work together to secure business.

“Most of our direct teams understand that the only way they’ll make their targets is through giving customers choice – and that choice includes connecting with the channel,” said Gilles Philippe, marketing manager for commercial channels at Dell Canada.

Since it introduced its new three-tier PartnerDirect program in May, Dell Canada has gotten 18 Premier partners signed up, and 66 preferred partners. Those ranks are set to swell, as Philippe said there are some 95 partners today working on attaining preferred status.

Part of its channel is also being built through acquisition, as purchases from Equalogic through to more recent buys Compellent and Force10 Networks all share a common channel heritage, one that is being embraced by the new ownership.

The purchase of Compellent is particularly meaningful to Dell’s channel, Miketinac said, because it rounds out Dell’s storage offering and thus its solutions story. In fact, the acquisition occurred in part because of partner insistence that Dell needed to build up its storage business, and that Compellent was the right company with which to do so.

Miketinac would not discuss specifics of the company’s channel performance in Canada, citing the quiet period leading up to its earnings announcement, but said that Dell Canada has seen “a lot of success in SMB with the channel,” and describing the SMB channel as “one of our fastest-growing groups.”

This week marks the closest thing Dell has ever held to a partner conference – its first ever Dell World event is being held in Austin, Tex., and the focus is on the breadth of solutions that can be crafted from Dell’s offerings. The event is open to both partners and customers, and the partner track will be highlighted by a luncheon keynote from the company’s eponymous CEO himself. Expect the focus to be firmly on the “desktop to the data centre” message and focus more on solutions that products.

Although Dell has ramped up the solutions messaging at the same time as HP’s potential spin-off of PSG looms large, the company insists its mind is on its own business, not that of its rivals. Aside from seeking to assure partners and customers that Dell is committed to the PC market in the long haul, Miketinac said Dell’s attention is on its own portfolio and the opportunities within it.

“We have the strongest IT portfolio in our history, and the full portfolio needed for major opportunities like desktop virtualization,” he said. “I have a great time talking about the great things Dell has to offer, and I’ll let [the customers] make their choice as to who to go with.”