Dell EMC puts stake in the ground for the channel with three strategic imperatives

At their Global Partner Summit kicking off their Dell Technologies World, Dell EMC delineated their channel strategy for the year ahead, and a lengthy list of program offerings designed to help execute it.

Joyce Mullen, president, Global Channel, OEM & IoT Solutions, Dell EMC, onstage at GPS 2018

LAS VEGAS – At the first Dell Technologies World here – the latest rebranding of the event that was formerly Dell EMC World before that – Dell EMC’s global channel chief gave the company’s channel partners a call to action at the Global Partner Summit keynote. In introducing a significant series of announcements, Joyce Mullen placed them within a context of  the overall Dell channel strategy for the year ahead.

“We are putting a stake in the ground today with three strategic imperatives,” Mullen told the audience, members of the approximately 4,000 partners who are at the event this year. “First, we are going to make it easier for you to do more business with us. Second, we are fast tracking your ability to do transformational solutions.  Third, we will monetize new emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.”

Mullen provided a highly positive review of the channel’s performance in 2017.

“You all did incredible work last year,” she told the audience. “I would call it a year of roaring success. Dell’s channel business is now a $43 billion dollar business. You brought in 54,000 new customers last year, and earned over 100,000 credentials. 60 per cent of you are growing. That’s fantastic, although we would like that number to be higher. 70 per cent of you made more money than last year. We would like to see that up as well.”

She then turned to how Dell EMC would execute on what she had laid out as the three strategic imperatives.

“We must easier to make it easier for you to do more business with us, and to do that, we are stepping back and focus on the end-to-end partner experience,” she said. “By the end of this year, you will see a deal registration process that is faster and more accurate.” She said that would mean an acceleration to a decision time within four hours on most deals, and 48 hours in storage. She also pledged that Dell EMC would deliver answers to special pricing requests faster – 80 per cent within 4 hours and 95 per cent in 24 hours. Rebate time to delivery will also be improved.

“These are all in a category of continuous improvement,” Mullen said. “There will be much more automation, much more real-time information in tools, like our real-time dashboard with all program earnings in one place. Now that is simple.”

Predictability this year was defined primarily around the channel’s relations with Dell’s direct arm.

“Competing with Dell is the elephant in the room,” Mullen said. Still, she stressed that the vast majority of the data centre business is sold and designed by partners, and that the best synergies happen when direct and channel work together.

Mullen said that Dell is building out an educational campaign for direct sellers to help them understand how and when the channel can add value to a deal.

“If you have an approved deal, we will protect you,” Mullen said. “If there’s a problem, let us know and we will make it right.”

A centrepiece of the plan to fast track the ability to deliver transformational solutions will be the new Dell Technologies Advantage Partner Framework, which will improve co-ordination between Dell and its affiliated companies like RSA, VMware, Pivotal and Virtustream.

“This is very much a program of the future,” Mullen said. “These companies will still have their own partner programs, but we will make it easier to do businesses across them.” Exactly when this will be a reality isn’t clear. While the goal of the framework will be to encourage partners to invest across the lines between these companies, the details have not yet been worked out.

Cheryl Cook, Senior Vice President, Global Channel Marketing at Dell EMC, outlined other new efforts Dell EMC is making to increase partners ability to deliver transformational solutions.

“The first thing is to be able to tell the story about the Dell Technologies advantage, and we are making available a webinar on the partner portal that we use internally,” she said. Dell EMC is also creating four new transformational videos for partners’ use.

In addition to the new Solutions Competencies, Cook said that Dell EMC would streamline services delivery competencies, including new co-delivery enhancements for clients and servers.

“We are launching a new IT Transformation campaign, which will map the technology use cases so you can modernize infrastructure and enable companies to modernize their digital vision,” Cook said. Dell has been delivering messaging around this for a year, but it will be rolled out into new areas.

Finally, the ability of partners to make use of spiffs is being enhanced by a new myRewards program that rolls out today for partners who opt in.

“Think of it as a dashboard, with much better ease of use,” said Deanna Thomson, National Director, Channel Sales at Dell EMC Canada. “It’s a huge new investment in tools.”

“It will make it easier to pay spiffs,” Cook said.

Mullen said that the need to help partners monetize the emerging technologies stems from Dell Technologies’ desire to be the leader in these spaces.

“Gartner says that 10 per cent of data is generated at the edge, but that that will rise to 70 per cent in six years,” she stated. “We have to get started on this. Our goal is to make Dell Technologies the essential enterprise company, including the Internet of Things.”

Partners ability to monetize emerging technologies is critical, and a new competency around the Internet of Things, something Cook said is coming very soon, will be the first of a series of new competencies. Others around High Performance Computing, security, business applications and data analytics will launch later in the year.

“When the new Internet of Things competency comes out, we will be focusing on trying to find new partners with those skills, particularly those who really want to embrace the infrastructure across the Internet of Things,” Thomson said.

Chris Wolff, Head of Global OEM and IoT Partnerships at Dell EMC, spoke briefly about new bundles that are in the process of being developed for partners.

“Our IOT-focused partners have created some amazing custom bundles, and the idea with this initiative is to make them mainstream,” Thomson said.

The notable solution offering announced at the Global Partner Summit came from Jeff Clarke, Dell’s Vice Chairman of Products and Operations, who has long presided over devices at Dell, and who last September added some areas of servers and storage to his authority.

“Dell EMC Ready Stack is a channel-exclusive offering, a certified reference system program for the converged infrastructure marketplace,” Clarke told partners. “It lets you bundle your service offerings [including deployment services] around the converged infrastructure stack, with channel incentives. This is something new for us.” Dell EMC Ready Stack is designed as a ‘build your own’ option for partners, compared to the Dell EMC turnkey converged and hyperconverged offerings.

The solutions involved include storage offerings like Unity, SC Series, XtremIO, and Isilon, PowerEdge servers, Dell EMC Data Protection and optional Dell EMC open networking, with support for multiple hypervisors, bare metal and containers. New innovations across the stack will be added as they become available.

“I’ve never seen us do such a large stack offering before,” Thomson said. “This should give our partners confidence in our data centre strategy.”

The Dell EMC Ready Stack is available now, through the Dell EMC Partner Portal.

Dell has been rolling out limited-term storage and incents over the last couple of years, in an attempt to goose the one element of their infrastructure portfolio that they have indicated that they are expressly dissatisified with, despite their large market share. Things were no different at this Global Partner Summit.

“You have an incredible opportunity to circle around storage,” said Scott Millard, Dell EMC’s Vice President, Global Channels Speciality Sales. “2017 got off to a slow start, but finished the year with tremendous momentum. We expect to gain market share in storage in Q1, and the storage business is predominantly indirect.”

Millard unveiled a new demo program around storage.

“Partners can use earned MDF to purchase any storage products at the deepest discounts ever, with no- cost software support,” he said. “For the first time ever, we have a demo program that’s consistent across the entire portfolio.”

“We have had some demo programs at legacy Dell before, but nothing as robust as this,” Thomson said. “In addition to the lack of costs for software and support, we are offering a massive discount off list.” All storage, converged infrastructure, hyperconverged, and data protection solutions are included.

A new Proof of Concept program is being introduced, which will allow Titanium partners to independently lead PoCs at end user locations with no-cost hardware, software, pro-support and shipping.

“Dell has always struggled with partner-led PoC’s in the past,” Thomson said. “This program has been launched, and will allow partners to lead PoCs around the entire storage program.”

Millard also introduced several new rebates, with the focus being around the Dell EMC MyRewards Program, an opt-in, points-based reward program partners sales reps and SEs. It will replace the existing Partner Advantage and Sell & Earn programs, with up to 3x bonus payout.

“We are offering incents of 1 to 3 per cent of deal value to both reps and SEs – up to $30,000 each, for selling modern infrastructure and cross-selling data protection,” Millard said. “We are also now applying the 8 per cent new business rebate to ANY competitive swap. None of our competitors offer anything like this. We are also offering a 2 per cent rebate for all mid-range tech refresh deals.”

“We believe that when you point a person in the right direction they will follow that path,” Thomson said. “I have never seen anything like this, with both sales and SE incents up to 3 per cent. We work hard to build strategic plans with partners, and also to win the hearts and minds of their sales reps and sales engineers.”