Dell EMC’s Joyce Mullen Talks Dell Technologies World And Cloud Strategy

Mullen On The Record

Although Dell Technologies is red hot, the infrastructure giant’s channel leader Joyce Mullen said there’s still more work to do around Dell’s cloud strategy, driving sales around its new partner-led Preferred Programs and finalizing the highly anticipated Dell Technologies Advantage framework.

“There’s an opportunity for us to improve the way we talk about our cloud strategy,” said Mullen. “As part of that cloud strategy, we have an incredible Dell Financial Services engine, but consumption models are not just about financing. So we’re trying to figure out how to beef up our capabilities there.”

In an interview with CRN, Mullen breaks down channel sales growth numbers, hints at upcoming Dell Technologies World announcements and reducing channel conflict.

You recently held a U.S. Partner Advisory Board meeting. What are some areas of improvement partners said they’d like from Dell?

We have some opportunities for improvement to continue to drive clarity around, how do we engage in account planning and making sure we’re clear on who’s doing what in order to make sure there’s no concerns around trust. That’s going to be something we’re always working on. There’s an opportunity for us to improve the way we talk about our cloud strategy. You’re going to see a lot more of that at Dell Technologies World. We’re really excited about where we’re going with that. As part of that cloud strategy, we have an incredible Dell Financial Services engine, but consumption models are not just about financing. So we’re trying to figure out how to beef up our capabilities there.

Will Dell come out with an offering to compete with HPE’s GreenLake consumption-based model?

We have an enormous Dell Financial Services (DFS) business. I think it’s $9.7 billion worth of assets that are managed under DFS. We are pretty clear that it is a big chunk of the value that our partners are looking for. We’ve done a bunch of work to try to asses, ‘What is GreenLake? What do partners like about it? What do they not like about it?’ As we know, consumption models are here to stay. As we introduce our new cloud strategy, cloud offers, improved consumption capability and improved offers around that – including offers for partners – it’s part of what we’re building. We’re listening to our customers and we’re listening to our partners. They’re asking for more of this. We have to figure out how to deliver some more of that. We’ll have some more details at Dell Technologies World, but it’s not all done yet.

What are the themes or hints at some announcements at Dell Technologies World that partners should be excited about?

I don’t think you should expect any massive changes in strategy or approach because we’re pretty happy with the results we’re seeing. It’s modify and refine. It’s not a whole sales revolutionary approach because customers and partners alike are telling us that it’s working. You will see more focus on cloud at Dell Technologies World. We have some really cool capabilities that we’ve already launched, but maybe we’re not making enough noise about how our product interface with cloud and how we connect to various public and private cloud capabilities. You’ll hear more about that. As part of that, how are we addressing various different approaches that customers want to use to actually consume and pay. You’re going to hear an optimistic view of the future in terms of where we can go together and how we can build solutions together for customers. So far, we’re seeing pretty good demand and traction. You’re going hear more about cloud, more about consumption and more about how Dell and VMware are going to be working more closely together which is also good.

Will there be an update on the highly anticipated channel Dell Technologies Advantage program?

We’re working with partners to help us figure out exactly what the operational requirements are and how they work. You’ll hear much more about that at Dell Technologies World. What’s really exciting is we will be a bit more bold in how we talk and think about it. It’s really about representing Dell Technologies. If you think about the VMware growth inside Dell EMC partners, it’s been phonemical this year. We will have some capabilities that we’ll be talking about that which will include PSK (Pivotal Container Service). Also, we’ve now got some ability to offer some SecureWorks solutions through the channel. This is happening and it’s happening quickly.

How far along is the program?

The intricacies of how the program work is being set up. We’re learning a ton from these partners participating in the pilot. We’re learning that we need more thorough teaming agreement or a more thorough planning approach when your involving multiple entities which makes perfect sense. Those teaming agreements that VMware have built is a really good start for that. We’re just adopting that as a matter of standard course. If you think about understanding together the art of the possible in how you can help a customer transform their environments faster, help them save money faster and build them better outcomes faster -- it’s a pretty powerful approach and strategy. We need to make sure we have the operational pieces right. For example, if you register a deal in one system, how does it just automatically translate to another one? Those are some of the kinks we’re working on.

Talk about the momentum around your channel-led Preferred Programs?

We’re seeing tremendous traction especially in North America where it’s been around the longest in terms of operating. Those preferred programs are growing at a significant multiple. I just got off a seven-hour review with [President of Global Enterprise Sales and Customer Operations] Bill Scannell about it on how important it is to continue to grow those. It’s also exposing many more of our sellers and our leadership team to spend more time with our partners. That’s a great thing. The more everybody knows our channel partners, the deeper we can get those relationships and the more we can learn from each other and understand the value each other brings. A really nice byproduct of the preferred programs is an increased of disciplined conversations, meetings and discussions on how to satisfy the needs for our customers.

Do you have any numbers on reducing channel conflict and deal regulation escalations?

We revamped that process in the first quarter of 2018 because we heard a lot of feedback from partners that we saw an opportunity to improve there. We basically raised the level of involvement and focus from our regional presidents on the issue that were deemed rules of engagement violations. We have the same early process where the partner reports an issue and we investigate it. That number was basically pretty flat to slightly down for fiscal year 2019. This is a very small number, we’re talking in the tens -- not even close to 100 at all. It’s a couple handfuls of escalations. Those now get elevated to the presidents for final review and disposition of the action. That level of scrutiny and the formality around those review processes has been improved and it’s raising the awareness of where we have opportunities for improved training and increasing clarify around what those rules should be. My sense is that it is getting better. We’re seeing fewer. There’s not a lot of them. We’re also seeing those get resolved faster with a whole lot more accountability at the senior levels of the company which raises awareness about the root causes of those issues.

Can you provide us with Dell’s recent fourth quarter channel sales growth?

The channel grew by 14 percent in the fourth quarter, that’s on top of three previous quarters that had tremendous growth. For our [full fiscal year 2019], channel was up 17 percent year on year. Distribution was up 16 percent in quarter four, and up 21 percent for full year. Our client business grew 14 percent in quarter four, and grew 16 percent for the full year. Channel server sales were up 21 percent in quarter four, and for the year server sales were up a whopping 32 percent. Storage sales was up three percent for quarter four, and services were up across the board.

Over the past year, the Dell Technologies channel delivered $50 billion in orders. That is enormous and continues to grow pretty effectively on a huge base. Our partners who are selling multiple lines of business and taking advantage of our incredible portfolio of products across all of our technologies, are generating 11-times the revenue compared to partners who only sell two lines of business, and 29-times the revenue versus partners who sell only one.

Can you provide any numbers on deal registration, partner certifications and Dell Financial Services growth?

Deal registrations were up almost 15 percent year on year with 121,214 deals approved in quarter four, and for the year, that number was around 486,000 deals. What we love about that is partners are doing exactly what we’re asking them. They’re accelerating storage, making sure to continue velocity in client and server, selling into new accounts that is extending our reach which is a beautiful, beautiful thing. We love the deal registration improvement too because that just helps clarify exactly who’s doing what and improves our trust process.

For the full year, 5,139 partners earned almost 155,000 credentials, which is a 43 percent year on year increase. The number of partners earning those credentials is up 27 percent. That means our partners are engaged, investing, and more partners are thinking about the value proposition of Dell Technologies. … Dell Financial Services (DFS) is a pretty big opportunity for us. DFS originations in the channel grew 36 percent year on year in quarter four. Those are sticky solutions. DFS now finances for 2,000 partners globally. Partners who finance with DFS or use our working capital solutions grow twice as fast as partners who don’t.

Why are you excited for Dell in 2019?

The future is incredibly bright. I get a little sappy about this, but I really do believe that technology is changing the world so dramatically and for the better. It is so exciting to be on the front line when we talk about how we’re improving the quality of blood supply with the Red Cross, or we’re figuring out how to clean water and take plastic out of the ocean – this stuff is really exciting, meaningful and it matters. I think together with partners, we can absolutely change the world. We can fix any problem. By putting the solutions in place, the processes in place and the program in place to enable partners to take these solutions, products and ideas, we can truly see the world become a better place. I know it’s sappy. My kids tell me it’s sappy, but I truly believe that. I can’t imagine a better place to be. We are on a roll. The future is very bright.