Dell World 2013: A Launch Pad For Change

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Dell World was a launch pad for not just a new private Dell but also the biggest revamp to the Dell PartnerDirect program in its seven-year history. CEO Michael Dell set the tone in his opening keynote Thursday, playing up his roots as an entrepreneur and vowing to thousands of customers and partners that he will recast Dell as an end-to-end enterprise technology provider.

"We're disrupting and democratizing software, services and solutions the way we did PCs and servers," Dell told attendees.

But for channel partners, the disruption they cared most about was news of a dramatic new change to the way Dell Direct and Dell PartnerDirect teams would be working together.

Starting Feb. 1, Dell will move roughly 200,000 previous Dell Direct accounts into the channel, where they will be managed jointly with channel partners and Dell Direct reps. Part of those incentives include a 20 percent "compensation accelerator" for the direct sales team to generate new enterprise business with Dell channel partners. Dell also said it would quadruple investments in demo and field equipment, as well as in its partner bonus programs.

For some Dell partners who have long complained that Dell's channel-friendly rhetoric hasn't completely matched what actually takes place on the ground, the news was a welcome change.

"At the end of the day, Michael Dell can't just repeat he's channel-friendly. But with these changes, Dell has signaled to me it's ready to walk the walk," said Bruce Freshwater, CEO of Sierra w/o Wires, a Pittsburgh-based Dell partner.

"In terms of driving sales engagement between Dell Direct and our partner community, this is by far the most significant set of activities that we have ever done to drive a cultural transformation as a company and change our channel's go-to-market strategy," said Bob Skelley, executive director of Dell's Global Certified Partner Program.

Dell hopes that cultural change will help the $60 billion company to be nimble and agile and drive sales deeper and wider into the enterprise. To that end, Dell unveiled a swath of business-centric products and services, such as the Fluid Cache for SAN, aimed at speeding up response times on servers and storage systems. CEO Dell also said Dell would bring to market 2K and 4K super-high resolutions displays for "well under $1,000" in 2014.

Dell also unveiled new cloud partnerships with Dropbox, Microsoft, Google and CenturyLink to provide customers with third-party cloud products. It also revealed updates to its Dell Cloud Partner Program, saying it was collaborating with Red Hat to offer "enterprise-grade, private cloud solutions" based on OpenStack.

"This privatization has created a renewed sense of excitement about Dell," said Michael Dell to attendees in his Thursday keynote. "We are unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity and innovation that have always been the hallmarks of Dell."


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