Michael Dell talks strategy at Dell EMC World

The Dell Technologies CEO stated his views on multiple topics in a variety of topics during Q&A sessions at the event.


Dell Technologies CEO and Chairman Michael Dell

With the Dell EMC integration done, and the unified company moving forward, Dell Technologies CEO and Chairman Michael Dell discussed the company’ plans and strategic options going forward. While his presentation to customers kicking off the event tended to be on the general ‘vision’ side, he also did multiple sessions at the conference where he took questions, and gave answers.

The general vision Michael Dell laid out at the conference is one he has articulated before.

“The Internet of Everything is the next industrial revolution,” Dell said. “The physical reality is transforming into a digital reality and physical businesses must transform as well. Dell referenced a study on digital transformation the company recently released indicating that mid-size and larger companies are concerned about digital displacement, even by startups.

“They have this digital fear because they know the future is coming very rapidly, and the future doesn’t care if you are ready – but we do,” Dell said. He indicated this environment assisted Dell Technologies’ objective of being a technology partner that can be number one in everything, all in one place. Assets where Dell was not number one, like Quest, Documentum and Perot Systems, they sold.

“I’d say we are going to be THE trusted provider of industrial infrastructure for the next industrial revolution,” Dell said.

Dell said the company’s formula for success isn’t that complicated.

“We are investing and creating a company that’s number one in everything, and our competitors are not investing,” he said. “They are doing the opposite. We are out-investing our competitors in R&D.”

Dell emphasized that the combination with EMC has been a long time in the making.

“In 2009, [EMC CEO] Joe Tucci and I hired the top consultants in the world and they did reams of work to explore combining the companies, and we reached the point where we had secret meetings of the boards of both companies, with code names and weird places,” Dell said. “Because of the financial crisis, we decided not to proceed. In 2013, Dell went private. In Aug 2014, I called Joe Tucci and asked to re-examine what we had talked about in 2009. We worked for over a year to figure it out and decided to go ahead, and one year and six days ago, we announced the combination. The planning’s all done, and we are now executing.”

Dell stressed that they want partners to sell more types of the company’s products than they have in the past, but also indicated they won’t impose unrealistic expectations.

“I think it would be great if more partners sold more of our portfolio, but I don’t know that all partners will be able to sell everything,” he said. “We’ve got a big portfolio. There is definitely more for partners to sell. To get to the cloud way of doing IT, first you have to modernize the data centre. For that, you need flash and software-defined and datacentre technologies, and we have got them. We have a lot of very logical adjacencies for partners, both within customer size domains, and logical IT domains, that make sense.”

Dell also indicated that Dell Boomi, a SaaS cloud integration product that has not been available to partners through distribution, could be opened up more broadly.

“We’d be totally open to that,” Dell said, in response to a question from a distributor asking for Boomi to be opened to them. “Boomi is growing at high double digits year over year. It started out as a way to connect Salesforce in the cloud with Oracle on-prem, and has now has become a broad platform for data integration. When it started it was pretty specialized and pretty complicated. I think some partners are working with it today, but I think we would be open about opening it up.”

Dell stressed on multiple occasions, that unlike competitor Lenovo, Dell Technologies has zero interest in expanding its endpoint presence by entering the smartphone market.

“I’m really glad we aren’t doing smartphones,” he emphasized. “It’s a good way to lose a lot of money real quickly. Besides, I don’t think the world needs another smartphone company. We do do AirWatch, which is the best way to manage them. In addition, for every 50 new smartphones, a new server pops up, because new smartphones don’t have anything on them.”

Dell reaffirmed commitment to the Cisco partnership around vBlock.

“This is a business we love, and it’s absolutely going to continue,” he said. “We also have a smaller networking business we have been growing and we will continue to grow and develop. Open switching, is continuing to grow very nicely, although it’s not a huge business for us. There are some opportunities there, but we partner with Cisco on vBlock.”

Dell also drew a complete blank at one point, when asked for an update on Dell’s OS10 networking business.

“If you were wondering if I know everything, the answer is no,” he said. “And that’s probably a good thing.”