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Dell Technologies partner strategy reaps steady growth

At the midpoint of FY20, Dell Technologies partner executives pointed to evidence that the company's channel strategy has matured while highlighting areas for ongoing improvement.

Dell Technologies' recent mid-year partner update showed the company is confident in its channel strategy but recognizes room for growth.

The update, presented online, covered highlights from the first half of Dell's fiscal year 2020, which started in February, and outlined priorities for Dell Technologies partners to pursue in the second half. According to Dell executives:

  • In the first half of FY20, global channel order revenue grew 11% year over year, while distribution revenue grew 9%.
  • Global channel sales of client products were up 6% year over year; server sales, 13%; and storage, which includes converge infrastructure and data protection, 15%.
  • Dell Financial Services originations increased 9%.
  • The channel brought in about 34,600 new and reactivated customers, an 11% increase.
  • Dell's OEM and edge solution business grew 25%.

Measured by global revenue and orders, Dell Technologies partners have delivered about $52 billion in the past 12 months, according to Joyce Mullen, president of global channel, embedded and edge solutions at Dell.

Mullen said these numbers stand out against a backdrop of "really tough macroeconomic pressures," which included trade tensions between the U.S. and China, Brexit uncertainty in Europe, global turmoil and lower growth rates. She said Dell Technologies' wide-ranging portfolio and diverse customer base and partner community were primary reasons the company could withstand these pressures better than many of its competitors.

Mullen also said Dell received the highest partner net promoter score (NPS) in its history in its biannual partner survey last quarter.

Gregg Ambulos, senior vice president of North American Dell channel sales, said that since the Global Partner Summit in April, the NPS in North America increased from 53 to 56 -- "a true sign that we are making strides."

In an interview with SearchITChannel, Cheryl Cook, senior vice president of global partner marketing at Dell, said the company has reached "a maturity state" since the Dell-EMC merger in 2016.

"We have a solid and consistent strategy that we definitely try not to alter," Cook said.

Extending the cross-sell business

Since the launch of the Dell EMC Partner Program (now the Dell Technologies Partner Program), Dell has urged its partners to tap into its sweeping portfolio to cross-sell. In the mid-year update, Dell continued to push the cross-selling message.

As the company frequently notes, it views its portfolio and how its products integrate as a chief differentiators among its market rivals. "We know that the real value is not in individual products and solutions, but the combination of the greater Dell Technologies portfolio," Mullen said.

We continue to believe that the differentiated value proposition for our partners really still is in the cross-sell opportunity.
Cheryl CookSenior vice president of global partner marketing, Dell

"We continue to believe that the differentiated value proposition for our partners really still is in the cross-sell opportunity," Cook noted.

In Dell's midyear review, Mullen pointed to World Wide Technology (WWT), a Dell Titanium Black partner, as exemplifying the cross-sell strategy. She said WWT is "providing consolidated offerings across Dell, VMware, Pivotal and other strategically aligned businesses." 

Mullen said that Dell partners that sell three lines of business -- for example, storage, servers and client products -- earn 29 times more revenue than partners selling one line of business.

"Partners who sell across the portfolio are more successful," Mullen said.

The Dell Digital Way

Earlier this year, Dell launched a multiyear project for creating a unified set of partner tools. This initiative, called the Dell Digital Way, includes automating parts of the deal registration process, rolling out a single quoting environment and eventually creating a platform that spans from quoting "all the way up to order checkout," Cook said.

"In the next three years, we will invest multimillions of dollars in the Dell Digital Way, which will give … our partners best-in-class self-service tools and automation and resources," Mullen said.

Darren Sullivan, senior vice president of global partner strategy, programs and operations at Dell, said recent enhancements to partner experience have focused on streamlining deal registration and bolstering its rules of engagement. Sullivan said ongoing work will focus on "a dynamic deal registration experience, self-service online pricing, automated integration with our partner systems, as well as more intuitive administration of our Dell Technologies Program and user experience."

These initiatives support Dell's long-term vision of developing an online environment for partners with "much greater self-service capability [and] a more seamless automated experience when collaborating with our sales teams," Sullivan said.

Second half of FY20

For the second half of fiscal year 2020, Dell asked its partners to remain focused on the company's key channel sales initiatives. Those include acquiring new customers, cross-selling the portfolio and attaching services to sales.

Additionally, Mullen encouraged partners to pursue training and certification so they can meet the Dell Technologies Programs' revised tier requirements, which go into effect after January 31, 2020.

In the first half of the year, about 2,100 Dell Technologies partners earned more than 44,700 badges and credentials, Cook noted.

Ambulos highlighted that the North American channel sales organized has introduced a new territory-based model to ensure "all partners have coverage." The revised model, he said, lets Dell better collaborate and more tightly align with partners in regional markets while expanding partner sales and technical enablement.

Ambulos said Dell has also aligned its commercial and enterprise segments within North American sales territories, with the aim of ensuring Dell's sales leaders and reps will be well versed in the channel strategy, partner programs and partners' capabilities.

Snapshot of Dell's vertical strategy

For Dell's partner update, Hayley Tabor, vice president of global industries sales and solutions, illustrated Dell's approach in a number of vertical markets.

Healthcare/life sciences: Tabor said healthcare customers are eyeing the cloud for its cost benefits and data services, yet concerns persist about cloud performance, reliability and security. Dell is trying to address these concerns by working with ISVs to develop multi-cloud offerings, "whether on-premises or off-premises," she said.

"Teaming with our partner ecosystem, we are developing validated solutions for genomics, digital pathology, next-generation electronic medical records and medical imaging solutions," Tabor said.

Energy: Oil and gas customers are looking for offerings that meet multi-cloud requirements, Tabor said. She added that Dell is also supporting customers on smart grids, predictive maintenance, high-performance computing and advanced analytics, and recently bolstered its utilities team.

"Utility providers are currently investing in technologies like IoT to help drive more efficient energy across their value chain. They are also asking for our help with automation of management, maintenance and security of pipeline and transmission resources," Tabor said.

Retail: Dell is embracing the 'intelligent store' concept. Tabor said is helping retail organizations "reduce shrink and better maintain inventory" with offerings that combine monitoring technology and integration services for analytics.

Additionally, Dell is developing converged 'store in a box' offerings that automate key store systems, as well as seeing demand for consolidated point-of-sales, in-store compute and networking technology, she said.

IoT and video surveillance: Tabor said the safe and smart city markets are driving interest in IoT and video surveillance products, Tabor said. "As the safety and security industry moves to the intelligent edge, more and more data will be analyzed closer to the source," she said.

She said Dell is collaborating with vertically focused organizations to develop IoT and edge computing technologies using distributed analytics, 5G, AI and machine learning.

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