Dell’s Rola Dagher On Partner Commitment And Channel Growth

Dell’s global channel chief Rola Dagher talks to CRN about Dell’s channel commitment as partners voice concerns about some of the company’s recent channel decisions.

Dell’s Global Channel Chief Rola Dagher Weighs-In

As solution providers voice their concerns over some of Dell Technologies’ recent channel moves, Rola Dagher tells CRN that the company remains “extremely committed” to channel partners, with massive channel sales growth expected in the second half of the year.

“We will continue to invest in growth areas that matter most to our customers and partners,” said Dagher, global channel chief at Dell, in an interview with CRN. “For example, we are raising the bar around the partner experience [by] offering new digital enhancement like the Incentive Center, the new programs, tools like our OSC (Online Solutions Configurator), Dell APEX [as-a-service offerings], all of that.”

Dagher said Dell is striving to grow both its direct sales and channel partner revenue in the “exploding” PC market by driving Dell’s top-notch Client Solutions Group (CSG) portfolio, which consists of PCs, laptops, notebooks and monitors. In the Round Rock, Texas-based company’s recent second fiscal quarter, CSG sales reached a record-breaking $14.3 billion, up a whopping 27 percent year over year, with operating income of nearly $1 billion.

Amid channel partner apprehension over some of Dell’s recent channel decisions, here is what Dell’s global channel chief Rola Dagher told CRN about the company’s channel commitment and partner strategy.

Is Dell reducing or consolidating the number of partner account managers in North America? If so, what’s the strategy and your message to partners?

Dell continually reviews its organization to drive growth and position our teams to best serve our customers and partners now and for the future.

As we continue to drive the organization to a growth position, we continue to position the team to focus on how to empower our partners [and look at] how do we go out there and ensure that we are actually serving our customers and partners. … Customers have embraced a digital future and digital transformation, and partners are extremely critical for all of us in helping accelerate that business transformation.

With that in mind, the phenomenal amount of opportunities that partners are enjoying with the high growth right now along with Dell Technologies globally and as well in North America— it’s amazing. You saw our numbers and our results, the biggest [second] quarter we’ve ever had. Let me just ‘channelize’ that for you.

North America orders revenue through the channel was up 25 percent year over year in the first half of the year. The client solution orders revenue through the channel was up 44 percent year over year in the first half. Server orders in North America were up 21 percent year over year for the first half.

Then North America storage—that includes data protection and converged infrastructure—order revenue was up 8 percent for the first half. I mean, those numbers are a huge testament to how amazing we are doing together. Numbers speak for themselves. So we’re extremely proud of the partners and our channel ecosystems across North America. We will continue to invest in growth areas that matter most to our customers and partners. For example, we’re raising the bar around the partner experience [by] offering new digital enhancement like the Incentive Center, the new programs, tools like our OSC [Online Solutions Configurator], Dell APEX, all of that.

In addition, we review our operational models regularly to ensure we’re optimizing and simplifying our engagement with partners, which we know is important to both our partners and our sales teams. So we remain strongly committed to our channel business and partners. We’re looking to continue that strong momentum in the second half. I mean, I just told you the numbers, so that is a huge, huge, huge achievement on both sides for our partners and for us. So that is from the North America channel coverage.

So has Dell recently cut down and consolidated the number of PAMs in North America?

I answered the question for you in terms of how we continually review the organization to drive growth and position the team to serve our partners much better now and in the future.

I will tell you, we made and kind of shifted around where the growth is and how do we optimize [growth]. We always look at that. It doesn’t matter if it’s first half, first quarter, second quarter, second half—we continue to focus on how do we optimize for growth, and how do we shift our customer experience in providing that better experience overall with Dell.

Is Dell shifting its client business more toward direct sales versus via channel partners?

We’ve seen the biggest growth explosion in the market was the PC. So we believe that the PC market will continue to expand more, and Dell’s client solutions sales momentum is strong and continues to grow.

We have seen growth in both our channel and direct routes to market, and we want both. And let me repeat, we want both channel and direct to grow faster than the market because the market is huge. We know our market potential out there is huge for us. So the recent results indicates that the strategy for us is working.

In the first half of this year, order revenue for our client solutions through the channel was up 49 percent—that’s year over year, globally. That’s outpacing the market. We support partners that have strong existing relationships with customers for our client solution portfolio, as well as those pursuing new client solution opportunities. So partners are key to our customers acquisition. In the first half of the year, partners brought 62 percent of Dell’s new and reactivated buyers.

We still are extremely committed to our deal registration process. We continue to see the growth in partner deal registration. In first half of the year, the number of deals registered by channel partners grew 14 percent year over year. So overall, we saw strong momentum in the channel in the first half with order revenue globally growing 29 percent year over year, and every line of business is experiencing positive growth. In client solutions, there’s 49 percent growth year over year. On server, its 27 percent year over year growth, and on storage, four percent growth.

So we’re looking to continue the channel growth across our entire end-to-end portfolio, including the client solutions. … We like the hand we’re holding, we love our results and our results speaks for themselves. We’re all about agility, velocity and the partner experience, and we’re seeing those results, and we’re enjoying them. We’ll continue to drive hard to continue to earn and grow more of the market share.

Many Dell partners did say their client business was up in the first half of the year, but they are worried about these client changes starting in the second half of the year. Are channel reps now being asked to take PC and the client business direct?

I will tell you, we still remain focused on the same message in the first half of the year as for the second half [in North America]. … That is basically the message for us: the first half and second half of the year will remain extremely consistent.