Dell EMC Set To Transform Its Sales And Marketing As It Prepares To Help Clients With Cloud And IoT

Less than half a year after Dell closed its acquisition of EMC, the combined entity is making major changes in how it approaches customers as those businesses embark on IT and digital transformations.

David Goulden, president of the Dell EMC Infrastructure Solutions Group, and Jeremy Burton, the company's chief marketing officer, on Thursday discussed the changes and their key drivers including the cloud and the internet of things with a small group of analysts and press.

The key change since the acquisition is the fact that there is no one at the company wearing a Dell hat, an EMC hat, or a VMware hat, Burton said. "It will be one Dell Technologies hat."

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They'll be united under that name, even though comparatively few of the more 100,000 Dell Technologies employees, including Chairman and CEO Michael Dell, work for the organization formally known as Dell Technologies, he said.

The biggest changes going on at the company are in the organization known as Dell EMC, which is focused on data center infrastructure solutions including storage, server, networking, and converged and hyper-converged infrastructure, Burton said.

Starting February 6, Dell EMC will see its sales and marketing teams fully integrated, he said. It is the last organization within the company to be integrated, he said.

That integration will be important as Dell EMC looks to take advantage of its scale to help customers going through massive transformations, including a move from native applications to the cloud, on-premises infrastructures to off-premises infrastructures, and traditional infrastructures to converged infrastructures, Goulden said.

How Dell EMC works with customers and the channel after the sales and marketing integration is finalized is still a mystery to channel partners as very little information other than rumors has filtered through, said Michael Tanenhaus, principal at Mavenspire, an Annapolis, Md.-based solution provider and Dell EMC channel partner.

"There's still a lot of waiting to see what things will look like," Tanenhaus told CRN. "From our point of view, the Dell EMC direct sales team still can't tell us about the changes. We see a lot of movement of sales personnel, and expect to see more in the next couple of days."

Channel partners are expecting to learn more about the integration and about new a new channel program next week, the timing of which just happens to coincide with the end of Dell's fiscal year, Tanenhaus said.

"The rule may be this way today, but tomorrow may be different," Tanenhaus said. "That's not meant in a negative way. Normally, when you have a new fiscal year, you expect new goals. But now we're talking about a whole new company."

Dell EMC is the IT industry's top storage vendor, and is tied with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise as the top server vendor, he said. The company is also the top vendor of appliances including converged infrastructure, hyper-converged infrastructure, and purpose-built backup appliances, he said.

Dell EMC has a higher market share for each of those appliances than it does for servers or storage, and it enjoys the industry's fastest growth rates, Goulden said. "With hyper-converged infrastructure, we potentially have over 50 percent market share," he said.

Goulden admitted that Dell EMC also happens to be competing in several parts of the IT industry that are consolidating.

"That's OK," he said. "We're happy to be number one in consolidating markets."

The digital transformation and IT transformation that businesses are facing forces them to look carefully at how the manage change, and at how to work with third parties to help them, Goulden said.

The position of chief information officer is a tough one today because he or she is being forced to find the right investment mix regarding managing current requirements while transforming the business to meet future requirements, Goulden said.

Those CIOs know that they need to adopt new technologies, like stateless applications and the cloud, to meet future requirements. "But the biggest part of their budget is still supporting existing technologies," he said.

Goulden said he expects 68 percent of infrastructure spending in 2017 to be focused on IT transformation, with the rest on digital transformation. "But in a few years time, it will be 50-50 … But the [part] that's shrinking is still huge," he said.

In order to work with such customers, Dell EMC has invested in a new organization, Dell Technology Select, that works with 3,000 to 3,500 of its largest customers as a way to directly engage their CIOs over their transformation initiatives, Goulden said.

For such engagements to work, it is important that a business can appoint a digital transformation executive outside the IT department because IT personnel are not the best people for that job, Burton said. "A lot of that is software-driven, and a lot of IT departments haven't written a line of code in 20 years," he said.

It takes a strong CIO to go against his or her IT team, Burton said. "Many people on the team have been doing things the same way for years," he said.

The channel has a role to play in digital transformation and Dell Technology Select, although it may often be via larger systems integrators like Accenture, Goulden said. "Inevitably, we don't have the resources to do it all," he said.

Burton said it helps Dell EMC that it can call on other parts of the Dell Technologies family, like Pivotal, which focuses on agile development on open platforms, as a way to help businesses transform their applications for the cloud.

With Pivotal, Dell Technologies "gets a seat at the table," he said. "In the past, we may not have always met with the CEO."

Dell EMC is also becoming a force in the burgeoning IoT market, Burton said.

Dell EMC is not building the sensors used for IoT, but is building the IoT gateways to stream data from those sensors and the backend systems that take those data streams, he said. Pivotal is also heavily involved in helping develop code that mobile devices can use to stream that data, he said.

"Everything will become 'smart,'" he said. "That includes storage arrays. Infrastructure in the data center is increasingly tethered … I don't think anyone who has a service isn't going to have a mobile app to handle their services."