Dell Technologies doubled down on the theme of trust at their partner forum, and emphasized that significant new enhancements which will make it easier to do business with them are on the way.
LAS VEGAS – The main themes of the Global Partner Summit General Session here on Monday as part of Dell Technologies World were ‘defying gravity’ and ‘trust.’ Their meaning was self-evident. Dell Technologies had a good year, and the channel outperformed the direct business to make this happen. The company also emphasized its move away from its past – not-so distant either – where Dell’s direct arm viewed partners as competitors in the same way that they did rival OEMs, notwithstanding official company disapproval of those practices. The company acknowledged that they still had a lot to do in terms of automating things to make it easier to do business with Dell Technologies, and stressed that this was a top priority.
The big news around the event however, was the official rebranding of the partner program, from the Dell EMC Partner Program to the Dell Technologies Partner Program. Rebranding in the IT industry invites skepticism, with the view often prevailing that these measures are primarily about marketing. There is often good reason for that. At this event, the company emphasized, however, that this is not the case here, and that the rebranding represents – and enables – tangible new benefits for partners from across the whole Dell Technologies portfolio of strategically-aligned businesses. Beyond Dell EMC, this includes Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware, as well as Dell Boomi, which unlike the others isn’t – at least for now – a separate logo on the slides because Dell acquired it before the EMC merger which brought in the other companies.
“Our goal is clear,” said Joyce Mullen, President, Global Channel, OEM and IOT Solutions. “We want our partners to be able to buy whatever they need and get credit for it, and be able to transact it. Those purchases across the entire Dell Technologies portfolio will all now count for tier credit. This is not new for VMware – we announced that in February. But it is new for everyone else.” Mullen said that the same thing will apply for MDF funding, that it will now count across the entire portfolio.
“The tier status remains the same, and there will be no impact on the strategically aligned business programs,” Cheryl Cook, senior vice president of Global Partner Marketing for Dell EMC, told channel partners. “But it will empower and enable you to have the whole of the Dell Technologies brands behind you.”
Mullen indicated that there are still some details to be worked out around this.
“What we haven’t yet figured out is how to make sure we are driving the right incentives to put these things together, when the partner does the hard work of integrating those solutions,” she said. “That’s on our list for Fiscal Year 2021.”
The new structure will also apply to training, certification and credentialing.
“Certification for VMware, for example, will apply for Dell EMC, and vice-versa,” Mullen said. “They don’t need to redo it again.”
One other new programmatic element was also announced at Partner Summit.
“We want you to be well-positioned, so we are announcing a new cloud competency to support the platform we just announced, the Dell Technologies Cloud solution,” Cook said. The competency will be composed of the Dell Technologies Cloud Platform Badge and a few other certifications, including Services Delivery Competency on VxRail. Full cloud competency certification requirements will be announced in Q3.
Dell Technologies also pledged continued improvement on management and administration issues.
“Last year, you told us there were certain things holding you back,” Mullen told partners. “You asked us to improve predictability with direct sales, and to improve times around deal registration. You asked us to provide more seed units, and more leads.”
Darren Sullivan, SVP Global Partner Strategy and Business Operations at Dell Technologies, detailed what Dell Technologies has been doing and will be doing around making it easier to do business with them.
“You said the experience needs to be simpler and more predictable,” he said. “Last year, we made some big commitments to drive speed and accuracy of processes. With deal registration, we committed to get an accurate response the first time of 95 per cent. We made 96 per cent. We committed to a response in 4 hours 80 per cent of the time. We hit 84 per cent.”
Sullivan also said that while speed of payment on rebates had been increased, the plan this year was to use automation to increase the speed of response and payment.
“Over the next year, we will take big steps to create a seamless experience around quoting, and deal registration,” he said. “This will include integrated self-services and quoting experience for client, services and storage together.”
“There is still a ton of more work we have to do in this area,” Mullen said. “We have put this significant improvement in automation and self-service first and foremost in prioritization.”
Operationally, many things are done manually today, Mullen acknowledged.
“When we register a deal for VMware and Dell today, it is a manual process,” she said. “There are some legal issues. We are looking to work with the legal team to have a single contract.”
The trust element that Dell Technologies emphasized so strongly at the Partner General Session also comes into play here.
“Partnership is based on trust, and when we don’t have trust, it can really hurt,” Mullen said. “We talk straight. We walk the talk. We have a high ‘say-do’ ratio, meaning we do what we say we will do. We know we have to earn your trust every single day.”
That focus won’t go away, because of Dell’s legacy issues with the channel.
“We will continue to talk about trust,” Mullen emphasized. “We know that in one nanosecond some knucklehead can make a wrong decision which will impact us for a very long time.”
“I’ve asked the sales teams to make sure they are out in front of this group on a regular basis,” Bill Scannell, President of Global Sales and Customer Operations at Dell Technologies told the partners. “I’ve asked each to take a day a week and do account planning with partners, so that we have more clarity and predictability in doing business.”
The defying gravity theme referred to partners having an exceptional year. Channel partners drove over $50 billion in orders out of Dell Technologies’ $91 billion in revenues. That represented a 17 per cent revenue growth. They also brought in 63,000 new customers.
“You are carrying the bulk of the growth, significantly more than the rest of the company,” Marius Haas, President & Chief Commercial Officer at Dell, told the assembled partners.
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, who actually DID defy gravity in his recent climb of Mount Kilmanjaro, drew an analogy for the audience between themselves and the porters and guides who made his ascent possible, as they carried twice as much gear and moved twice as quickly as himself.
“It’s our role to be the porters and guides for our customers on their digital transformation,” he said. “They need the experience, talents and capabilities we have to offer.”