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New Dell Technologies Advantage Program Will ‘Elevate’ Dell Partners

Dell Technologies is unleashing its new Advantage framework, arming partners with the incentives and tools to seamlessly sell across its full edge-to-core-to-cloud portfolio.

Peering out over the IT horizon, Scott Winslow knows he’s hitched his wagon to the right horse. That’s because of what he calls the Dell Technologies “advantage” in a time when customers are opening their wallets and clamoring for end-to-end digital transformation solutions.

“The story of Dell Technologies makes infinite sense in today’s world. Customers more and more are looking for integrated solutions from a single vendor with single support. They’re trying to simplify their operations, and at the same time, that is exactly Dell’s strategy,” said Winslow, president of Winslow Technology Group, a Waltham, Mass.-based Dell Titanium partner and 2018 CRN Triple Crown Award winner.

Winslow Technology Group was able to expand its total Dell Technologies revenue by more than 40 percent in 2018 year over year thanks to the technology and channel synergies the vendor has created around Dell, Dell EMC and VMware.

“They’re developing a full stack of solutions that work for the customer, which is allowing us as a partner to compete really, really effectively in the market,” said Winslow. “We’re seeing synergies of these teams working together between Dell EMC, Dell and VMware, and we get the benefits from it.”

Winslow Technology Group’s Dell EMC storage business has doubled, hyper-converged infrastructure sales are up 40 percent, and Winslow said the company is now selling VMware Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs), which has skyrocketed its VMware business. But like any red-hot solution provider, the plan for 2019 is to drive sales even higher, which is why Winslow is doubling down on the Dell Technologies family of businesses. “My hope in 2019 is we’ll be able to extend our successful strategy to Pivotal, Virtustream and Secureworks, and do even more to leverage the products and services of Dell’s companies.”

That desire to build end-to-end solutions for customers is the same one that’s been driving Michael Dell’s vision for his namesake company for years.

In fact, the Dell Technologies founder, chairman and CEO has meticulously pulled together his strategy to solve the trillion-dollar puzzle of digital transformation by building a one-stop-shop technology provider from the edge to the core to the cloud. First, Dell took his company private in 2013 in one of the largest IT private equity buyouts in history. Then he stunned the world by buying EMC (and, by extension, VMware) in 2016 through a $67 billion deal that forever changed the technology landscape. Now the time has come to launch a game-changing channel program that will transform the way partners buy, sell and engage with Dell Technologies and its diverse technology portfolio.

Enter the Dell Technologies Advantage framework, which the company sees as the answer to the channel’s quest to sell end-to-end digital transformation in an easier, simplified way—while at the same time making a whole lot of money by selling larger deals in a program chock-full of cross-selling incentives.

An Executive Trio Up To The Task

To craft the ground-breaking channel and go-to-market strategy for the Dell Technologies Advantage framework, Michael Dell has turned to a venerable trio of top executives with a combined 60 years of Dell EMC experience to complete the audacious task of driving a coordinated channel sales and go-to-market strategy that crosses over Dell’s seven business brands. The trio includes Marius Haas, a seven-year Dell veteran who played a critical role in the company’s monumental storage business turnaround in 2018; Bill Scannell, a 33-year Dell EMC veteran who started as an EMC sales rep in 1986 and now drives enterprise sales; and Joyce Mullen, a 20-year Dell veteran who was handpicked in 2017 by Michael Dell to lead his company’s channel charge.

Dell himself said Mullen deserves “a lot of credit” for Dell’s channel success. “We are blessed to have a fantastic channel chief here at Dell Technologies,” he said. “Joyce has done an amazing job leading the business. And I’ll tell you, the enthusiasm and excitement that we have not only from the partners but from the team inside the company has been tremendous.”

Under Mullen’s leadership, more than 50 percent of the company’s overall sales now come via the channel with partners generating $49 billion in orders over the past four quarters, up from $43 billion in the previous four quarters.

“We want to make it easier to transact, engage and basically sell more of the solutions,” said Mullen, Dell’s president of Global Channel, OEM and IoT. “The partners who are selling multiple lines of business are growing 20 times faster than partners who are selling one line of business with us—that’s huge. … The goal is for partners to go broader and deeper into our portfolio, and broader and deeper into their customers.”

Currently in pilot mode, the Dell Technologies Advantage framework aims to strategically and operationally align the family of businesses inside the Round Rock, Texas-based company. On top of its PCs and industry-leading server, storage and hyper-converged infrastructure businesses, Dell Technologies consists of security vendors RSA and Secureworks; cloud-native platform and application player Pivotal Software; integration platform and workflow automation provider Boomi; enterprise cloud service provider Virtustream; as well as virtualization and multi-cloud superstar VMware.

The ultimate goal is to make it easier for partners to participate across all of the vast product categories inside Dell Technologies and provide the channel with a one-stop shop for all of their customers’ digital transformation needs, said Mullen.

“Partners and customers are not sitting around thinking, ‘Boy, I wish I could do more business with more vendors.’ They’re trying to figure out if they really want to adopt these new technologies, if they really want to lean into artificial intelligence, build their own businesses around technology, and do their own digital transformation,” said Mullen. “It makes sense to do it with somebody who can do it soup to nuts, and that seems to be working.”

Dell is investing heavily into building a program that aims to make it easier and more profitable to sell the full breadth of its massive portfolio, which many solution providers believe is currently unmatched in the industry. In order to achieve this, the program includes a simplified certification process and tiering method, cross-company market development funds (MDF), Solution Badging, and training on how partners can build solutions and services around Dell’s entire technology stack. The company is currently crafting internal teaming agreements across the Dell Technologies family, as well as building operational and transactional synergies between the companies.

Expected to become fully operational in 2020, a major benefit of the Dell Technologies Advantage framework will be around certification, simplification and joint program tiering to ensure solution provider investments are maximized across the portfolio. For example, if a Pivotal partner is certified on Pivotal Ready Architecture or Kubernetes, it does not need to spend the time and money to get recertified around the technology inside the VMware program. The goal is to cut out unnecessary repetitiveness and allow partners more time in the sales field rather than the training room.

Helping partners achieve cross-tiering benefits is another Dell strategy to drive channel profitability for those that are selling multiple product lines, Mullen said.

“If you have top-tier status in VMware, it will give you access to some of the capabilities, skills and opportunities as a higher-level partner in the Dell EMC program. We’re trying to figure out how to share those designations to help our partners shortcut some of the processes,” said Mullen. “For example, we’re working on combining those credentials and certifications so that the investment they make one time can count multiple times.”

Partners are pumped for the new Dell Technologies Advantage framework, telling CRN that an end-to-end cohesive story and channel delivery mechanism will undoubtedly change the customer conversation.

“It really helps to elevate the conversation into one that’s more about the enterprise stack and the overall business priority,” said Dan McCormick, executive vice president at St. Paul, Minn.-based Davenport Group, a Dell Technologies partner. “It gives us the latitude, grounding and a pathway in those conversations that might have otherwise been product-focused. So it allows us to be part of the vision and road map with these customers rather than just having to focus on a specific product or project.”

McCormick said some synergies already in place between Dell EMC and VMware have led Davenport Group to double its hyper-converged sales over the past 12 months. “The ability for joint products to have the benefits of being tested, hardened, ready when it’s plugged in to deliver time to value—as well as with the most recent innovations from both companies—that’s unique to Dell EMC and VMware. It’s a huge benefit for us and customers,” he said. “So you can see why this program makes sense. I don’t see anyone in the market that has the breadth that Dell Technologies has. It’s that same breadth that’s going to fuel their growth going forward.”

Another cross-selling benefit is that channel partners will be able to leverage MDF across the Dell Technologies family of businesses, according to Cheryl Cook, senior vice president of Global Partner Marketing. “We’ve already enabled MDF to be used across the strategically aligned businesses, meaning a partner could take moneys that they earned in Dell EMC and leverage that across to VMware demand generation,” she said.

There is also Solution Badging available for partners that counts toward competency training requirements in both the VMware and Dell EMC partner programs. The Dell Technologies Advantage framework initially is focused on driving synergies between Dell, Dell EMC, VMware and Pivotal, as these companies already have a natural technology and engineering connection. For example, the currently available Pivotal Ready Architecture is a purpose-built appliance for running Pivotal Cloud Foundry that includes VMware virtualization and Dell EMC hyper-converged VxRail infrastructure.

Independent Channel Programs

In order to not disrupt Dell’s massive channel community, Mullen wants to make it crystal clear that each individual company will maintain its own channel program. “VMware needs to have its own partner program. Pivotal needs to have its own partner program. Secureworks is building a partner program,” she said.

“All of those need to have an independent partner program, but we’re putting them together in a kind of ‘one-world’ type alliance and allowing our affiliates to work together.”

There is currently a handful of solution providers and alliance partners already participating in the Dell Technologies Advantage pilot with expectations to add more partners throughout 2019.

Additional Routes To Partner Profitability

In Dell’s fiscal 2018, an astounding 97 percent of the company’s top 500 customers purchased products and services from at least two of the company’s three biggest brands: Dell, Dell EMC and VMware. On the channel front, Dell saw 11 percent year-over-year growth in the number of partners selling multiple lines of business in third-quarter 2018. Total channel revenue grew 21 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2018.

It might seem like a hard feat to continue such a channel sales onslaught in 2019, but the company has two other programs up its sleeve to drive partner profitability.

In a historic move to open the floodgates for partners to tap into thousands of commercial and enterprise Dell accounts, the company last year launched the Enterprise Partner Preferred Program and Commercial Partner Preferred Program.

For approximately 2,000 enterprise and 20,000 commercial customers Dell has designated as underpenetrated, the company is creating joint account plans that have its inside sales and channel teams now turning toward solution providers to lead the way.

The weight of significantly expanding 2,000 Dell enterprise accounts via the channel is falling on the shoulders of Dell EMC veteran Bill Scannell, who has a clear message to partners. “We’ll win or lose with our partners,” said Scannell, president of Global Enterprise Sales and Customer Operations.

Scannell, who led EMC’s global sales charge for years prior to its merger with Dell, understands the market-shifting impact the channel can have. His plan is to unforgivingly attack competitors in these accounts by working hand in hand with partners through the entire process, offering up any necessary resources to help partners penetrate deeper into the accounts and push rivals out.

“When you take the resources of our channel partners and the resources we have, it’s the one-plus-one equals something more than three. [The Enterprise Partner Preferred Program] is the fastest-growing part of my business right now,” said Scannell. “We carve out the accounts, we meet with our partners by region and say, ‘These are the accounts in the Enterprise Partner Preferred Program. Here is our strategy to go after them. You’re in that account. Do you want to partner with us?’ Most partners say ... ‘Let’s partner.’ Or others will say, ‘No, I’m not in that account, but I want to get in there. So I’ll invest some time and cycles, and you invest some time and cycles—let’s go get it together.’”

Partners who participate in either of the two programs are granted front-end and back-end rebates on products, deal registration protection, as well as incentives for competitive swap-outs and technology refreshes. For example, Dell EMC is granting partners 20-plus points of front-end margin when they register a storage opportunity through the Enterprise Partner Preferred Program.

“We’re going to give you more money on the front end and more rebates on the back end. We’re going to give you more money for competitive takeout. Money for doing technology refreshes. We want to enable partners to win and win bigger than you are today,” said Scannell.

To make sure these commercial and enterprise accounts are truly partner-led, Dell is also protecting its own sales team commissions on these accounts, meaning the sales reps will be incented to work more closely with the channel.

Andy Sontag, sales manager at IPM, a New York-based Dell Technologies partner, was one of the first solution providers to join the Enterprise Partner Preferred Program. IPM worked with Dell on a global customer account to consolidate five data centers down to two.

“We took the business away from NetApp and moved it to a VxRail solution that was replicated between New York and the West Coast. It resulted in well over $1 million in revenue in the last 12 months from a company that hadn’t bought Dell EMC here in the U.S. prior to that,” said Sontag. “[Dell] helped us order and stage the equipment, ship it in racks for easy deployment. They also provided help around Dell networking and top-of-rack switches to help grow the deal.”

IPM increased its overall annual Dell Technologies sales, which includes servers, storage and endpoint revenue, by 10 percent in 2018. Thanks in part to channel initiatives like the preferred programs, IPM is projecting its Dell Technologies annual sales to increase a whopping 50 percent in 2019.

Since Dell unveiled the Enterprise Partner Preferred Program in August, solution providers participating in the program have generated more than 685 wins in its first four months. “If you look at the 2,000 accounts, we already have 685 new wins that weren’t buying our storage, our servers, and now they are. That happened in really less than two quarters,” Scannell said. “We’re seeing a big uptick in business, and I don’t see it slowing down.”

Winslow Technology Group is another partner taking advantage of the program. The solution provider teamed up with Dell EMC to go after a large manufacturer and successfully grow the account while at the same time swapping out a competitor’s product.

“We’ve been able to team up very closely with the Dell EMC team to grow that account significantly in terms of storage, servers, networking, VMware—and the program has given us the advantage of extended line of business registration, aggressive pricing and increased focus in terms of the resources we get,” said Winslow. “We have swapped out the competition. We’ve taken out competitive product. They’re helping us grow an account for one of the largest manufacturers in the world.”

A Commercial Success

Leading the Commercial Partner Preferred Program is Haas, who has overall responsibility for Dell’s global go-to-market organization for 500,000 commercial accounts.

Haas, who spent a decade in top executive roles at Hewlett Packard Enterprise from 2001 to 2011 before joining Dell in 2012 where he is now president and chief commercial officer, said competitors simply can’t keep up with Dell Technologies’ end-to-end innovation pace and digital transformation story.

“The customer is going to make the decision of, ‘Who am I going to bet on for the next three, five, 10 years?’” said Haas. “Looking at Dell Technologies and the capabilities we have, [customers] say, ‘I’m not just buying a single silo of architecture, I’m buying the future,’” he said. “I’m buying the company I’m partnering with who has the people that are going to get me to where I need to get to in order to be competitive. Our products, even all the way down to the component level within the server portfolio—the [Dell EMC PowerEdge] 14th Generation, for example—it’s all amazing products. That’s the difference.”

Haas, who helped put in place the strategy that allowed Dell in 2018 to take the No. 1 share position in the worldwide storage and server markets, said the numbers show Dell’s innovative storage portfolio is resonating with customers.

Quarter after quarter in 2018, Dell EMC consistently gained storage market share on a year-over-year basis. In first-quarter 2018, Dell was the global storage leader with 21.6 percent share, up from 20.3 percent year over year, according to market research firm IDC. Revenue for the quarter skyrocketed 43 percent year over year to $2.82 billion. The second quarter saw the company’s storage share jump to 19.1 percent, up from 18.3 percent in the same quarter one year ago; while Dell’s third-quarter share increased from 18.8 percent in 2017 to 19.2 percent share in 2018.

Not only did Dell dominate the global storage market throughout 2018, but the server industry as well.

In the first quarter of 2018, Dell took control of the worldwide server leadership position by capturing 19.1 percent share, up from 17.6 percent year over year, thanks to a 51 percent spike in server sales. Dell’s server share in the second quarter jumped to 18.8 percent in 2018, up from 17.7 percent one year ago. In the third quarter of 2018, Dell’s market leadership position remained intact, but share slightly dropped from 18.1 percent to 17.5 percent year over year, due in part to a large spending increase in the original design manufacturer (ODM) space during the quarter. However, Dell server sales in the third quarter ballooned to $4.1 billion, up 33 percent year over year.

On the PC front, Dell has increased its global market share on a year-over-year basis for a remarkable 23 consecutive quarters. In the fourth quarter of 2018, Dell shipped 11,259 PCs to capture 16.5 percent market share, up from 15.7 percent share one year ago, according to IDC. For the full year 2018, Dell’s PC share climbed to 17.1 percent by shipping 44,170 units this year, up from 16.1 percent share in 2017.

While Haas says there’s still work to do in his server and storage business, the goal in 2019 is to better enable partners to sell more lines of business to widen the market-share gap even further.

R&D Breakthroughs

One significant Dell Technologies advantage, Haas said, is its massive $4.5 billion R&D budget. That annual R&D budget is going to be critical to driving more technology breakthroughs across the Dell Technologies portfolio from hybrid cloud and hyper-converged infrastructure to PCs and workstations.

“That’s a big number,” said Haas of Dell Technologies’ investment in R&D. “Clearly, that is a core driver and engine for creating net-new innovation across the board. On top of that, we’ve invested significantly in more team members out in the field to cover more territory, cover more partners, cover more accounts and create more demand. It’s not an earthshattering idea that if you show up, you might win. We’re showing up, and with this portfolio, we’re winning. With this partner ecosystem, we’re winning. That’s exciting. We want to make sure that every dollar we spend is as efficient and effective as possible.”

Haas said Dell Technologies has no plans to reduce the R&D budget—which he sees as a clear differentiator for the company. Dell is projecting revenue for fiscal 2019, which ends Feb. 1, of approximately $91 billion, up from $80 billion in fiscal 2018.

Partners said that $11 billion revenue increase shows that customers are reaping the benefits of what Michael Dell calls the “essential infrastructure company.”

The journey to become such a company was no easy feat, and many industry pundits questioned the wisdom of Dell’s move to buy EMC. But Michael Dell had no such qualms.

“It all looks like a beautiful picture,” he said. “If you go back to October 2015, when we announced this little idea [of acquiring EMC], people were like, ‘What are you doing? How’s that going to work?’ Well, it’s worked out quite well,” said Dell.

“If you look at our data center business, we are the largest and we’re bigger than Cisco. Bigger than IBM. Bigger than HPE. … So if you step back and think about it in hindsight, what we’ve done is we combined the leading storage company with the leading server company, which created the leading hardware infrastructure company, and we combined that with the leading software infrastructure company. So now you’ve got the essential infrastructure company,” he said.

Even some Dell partners who have been selling technology for decades had their initial doubts.

“I’ve not seen anything like what Michael Dell has been able to amass in terms of the overall vision, but even more so his ability to execute against that,” said Davenport Group’s McCormick, who began selling IT in 1986. “As the EMC acquisition was evolving over the 18 months leading up to the final deal, even for as long as I’ve been in this business, I was challenged to see how he could possibly pull off something of this magnitude. While there are lots of visionaries existing in this space with great ideas, what we’ve seen from Michael Dell and the team he’s built is his unique ability to take that vision on the highest level—but also understand the mechanics and execution at the most detailed level—and follow through on it. All of these pieces really create a distinctive advantage and the reason why Michael Dell has been able to succeed at this level. It’s really unrivaled.”

Now, with the push to go public again complete, the company that bears his name is set to transform businesses of all kinds across the globe as the end-to-end, digital transformation leader.

That digital transformation market opportunity will add up to $1.25 trillion this year, continuing to grow to $2 trillion by 2022, according to IDC. With the Dell Technologies Advantage framework being finalized and Dell placing its bet on the channel to lead its digital transformation assault, Michael Dell can’t help but feel bullish about the future.

“The demand is going to continue to be very strong in 2019. The momentum we have in the channel is quite strong. It’s a very different company than it was five or 10 years ago. We have a whole different set of capabilities with Dell EMC, VMware and Pivotal and the rest of the family. We’re in a very good spot,” said Dell. “We have a leading position that we don’t take for granted. We have to work hard every day to earn the trust of partners and customers, but momentum is very good.”

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