CRN Interview: Intel Channel Chief Steve Dallman Talks Retirement, Mobility And More

A 35-year Career

Steve Dallman, a longtime and respected figure in the Intel channel, is set to retire at the end of the month. Currently head of Intel's Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) Channel Engagement business, Dallman previously served as vice president and general manager of Intel's worldwide Reseller Channel Organization (RCO) and also held several other channel positions during his career. Dallman spoke with CRN about his decision to retire, his achievements with RCO, and where he sees the Intel channel going in the future.

On Retirement

Two years ago it felt like a really good idea. And when I finally had to decide, I looked at it this way: I had held this job longer than any of my predecessors, and I was traveling 300,000 to 400,000 miles a year all over the world. And it just felt like the right time. I think I did the worldwide RCO stuff for about eight years and have been in the channel for 20-something years. And I wanted to work right until the very end in the channel.

On His Channel Career

There were some really big things I wanted to get done in the worldwide Reseller Channel Organization (RCO). And I pretty much accomplished all of them. We went from a straight integration team selling boxed CPUs all over the world to one that took over and maintained our local OEM relationships all over the world and developed working relationships with ODMs (original design manufacturers) in Asia. And we did the large branded reseller program where we embraced the resellers that were selling branded machines as well [as custom-built systems].

On Turning Around Worldwide RCO

There isn't a particular thing I look at as the best thing we ever did [at RCO]. But when I took this job over in 2006, Intel was going through a huge adjustment in terms of our business and our headcount. And we had made a dramatic cut in the number of people and spending and resources we were going to be using in the channel; the worldwide RCO team had been about 80 people, and then it got cut back to 12. And I think when we started, we had a deep morale issue, and partners were wondering if we were committed. And we turned the whole thing around in about a year to a year-and-a-half.

On RCO Improvements

We realigned our resources [starting in 2007]. And then we began transforming the organization. And we got a ton of cooperation from the upper management team as well as the troops on the street. And so from that sort of dark moment at the end of 2006, we reset and then started rebuilding the organization up and expanding it. At that point in time, all we really did was work with our system builders and integrator [partners]. And we had local OEMs that bought direct from Intel and didn't have a strong voice, so we took on that charter, too.

On Working With OEMS and ODMs

We worked on relationships between ODM and local OEMs, which I thought was key because we weren't real successful in notebooks and mobile [form factors] into the white box channel. And we were able to become very successful building a local OEM-OSDM business in our channel, which is nearly $2 billion today.

On RCO Today

The cool thing is that we're actually bigger now in terms of revenue in the channel than we were back in 2006. Now it comes from all kinds of different things -- we have SSDs, tablets, notebooks. But people feel there's a certain culture with being part of RCO. And when you talk to partners, they associate with that RCO culture. Last year we added between 50,000 and 60,000 new people to our partner membership program, and this year the goal is 75,000.

On The PC Market

A lot of people don't realize that even today, the desktop PC business is over 140 million units a year. And the channel, and the business that RCO is responsible for, is still about 50 percent of that business. It's a huge core business, and they keep innovating in the market. We've come out with things like NUC (Next Unit of Computing) which is a small form factor PC, and we're hitting run rates of 10,000 to 12,000 a week, so it's been very successful.

On Tablets

The other factor [in RCO's success] was we actually got our tablet business underway, which I've been working on full-time pretty much for the last year. It felt like we're getting traction there. It's still a big mountain to climb but we're definitely a presence in that market, and people know that we're in it.

On What's Next For Intel Partners

If I was starting a solution provider company today, I would take a look at this Internet of Things market. With the resellers out there that really know how to apply their IT skills to hardware, it could be huge. I would take those connected products and devices, with all the sensors that need to be managed, all the big data applications tied to them, and all the wireless connections, and I would start getting those solutions built. I think there's going to be an explosion of IT capabilities that will enrich thousands of solution providers.

On His Replacement As Channel Chief

I wanted to get the right guy in place to help keep the worldwide RCO going. And Intel said I could pick my successor, so I chose Maurits Tichelman (pictured). He's been running Europe's channel for quite a long time; he's been in that job the entire time I had been in mine. We've been peers when we both worked for Sophia Chew (currently vice president of the Software and Services Group, formerly vice president and general manager for Intel's worldwide RCO). So the timing was right for him as well.