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Dell channel partners can expect 'future-ready' investments

Dell executives told Dell PartnerDirect Summit 2015 attendees to expect channel investments in reference architectures, enablement and education.

AUSTIN, Texas -- The proposed purchase of EMC is expected to be a disruptor of significant magnitude for Dell.

So, it's good news for Dell channel partners that channel executives at Dell PartnerDirect Summit 2015 today said the company's priorities for fiscal year 2017 will be consistent with fiscal year 2016: client solutions, enterprise growth, Dell software growth and the channel. At the same time, Cheryl Cook, channel chief at Dell, announced that the company will be making significant investments in enablement, education and offerings to create the "future-ready channel."

Bill Rodrigues, president North America commercial and global sales at Dell, told the 1,000 partner attendees that he wants the company to aggressively pursue the No. 1 position in the notebook market, grabbing share from HP; continue to gain market share in the enterprise in mainstream servers; and grab what he said was a $3 billion total addressable market in North America. In addition, Rodrigues said he aims to improve the company's trajectory in storage and networking products, and keep Dell software group's growth on par with market growth.

When it comes to the channel, Rodrigues talked about partner acquisition, increasing training and certification, strengthening operational processes, maximizing partner profitability, and improving collaboration between Dell and partners.

Then, he talked about implementing the go-to-market transformation in North America that Dell has been working on for the past 18 months. "That means taking the current structure that we have and making it geographic-based," Rodrigues said. The goal is to better align sales resources and bring them closer to the channel and the customer.

That would be great, if it came to fruition.

Robert Pastor, president of Adapture Technology Group, a 3-year-old, $25 million professional services and integration company in Norcross, Ga., said his business is built around Dell. He's bullish on the company, specifically when Michael Dell took the company private a couple of years ago and also the impending acquisition of EMC. Yet, Pastor admitted that it's been painful being a Dell partner.

"Dell's legacy direct sales organization is uncomfortable giving up control, not of the sale of the client components and technology, but to the account relationship and bringing in -- on a full scale -- your local business partner," he said. At the same time, he believes that the company's relationship with Dell channel partners has gotten better, but not at the speed it needs to be competitive.

It was Cook, Dell's vice president of global channels and alliances, who expanded on specific channel initiatives, starting with the promise to invest tens of millions of dollars in automation and infrastructure to make it simpler for partners to do business with Dell.

Key in her presentation was the idea of building a future-ready channel, or one that's optimized to work with a future-ready customer -- specifically, in areas such as BYOD, mobility, security, access, cloud, big data and analytics, for example.

"Partners need to adapt to new pressures of customer demand," she said.

Cook outlined four focus areas for 2016 to build the future-ready channel: access to leading technology, team skill development, business model transformation and profitable growth.

"These are four focus areas that we know that you need to be evaluating and accessing," she said.

Some things that Dell will do to address these focus areas:

  • The company will deliver IT future-ready Dell Blueprints that leverage the expertise and relationships that Dell has with its strategic technology partners to deliver reference architectures and blueprints, which have been tested and certified in a variety of use cases and workloads. Dell channel partners can use these blueprints to provide customers with technology recommendations and proposals.
  • Dell will deliver deployment guides, marketing and sales collateral, proposal and bid resources, as well as training and competencies around the blueprints. Dell is bringing more than 13 engineered products, or appliances, to market with more than 20 reference architectures and blueprints, according to Cook. These resources target unified communication and collaboration, virtual desktops, virtualization, cloud, big data analytics, business processing and high-performance computing.

Dell will continue to deliver product competencies and certifications, but will also deliver new competencies in the context of products and services. "This is so partners can deliver that end-to-end comprehensive solution and capability, understand where you've got the opportunity to complement with your own services, your own advisory and consulting capabilities around products, software and services that Dell is delivering," Cook said.

So, for example, more product training will be delivered for software such as data protection, Windows management, endpoint management, and identity and access management. New training around offerings will provide competencies around cloud, network security and big data analytics, while new services training will include PS Series Storage Deployment, SC Series Storage Deployment and Networking Deployment.

These new training initiatives are now available in 123 countries. The vendor will work with its distributor partners, Dell Authorized Training Partners, to deliver the new training and competencies.

I'm optimistic, but Dell is running out of runway.
Robert Pastorpresident, Adapture Technology Group

On the business model and profitability side, Dell wants partners to leverage Dell Financial Services. In particular, Cook noted the Scale Ready Payment Solution, which offers flexibility of offering payment terms for as-a-service trends. Dell offers a number of financial services: provision and pay, pay as you grow, scale on demand and the cloud flex program.

Partners who leverage Dell financial services grow four to five times that of partners who don't, Cook said.

Dell will also launch a more formal Service Provider Program for partners who are formalizing their managed services practice.

Finally, Dell channel partners will also see the company make changes in its incentives and rebates. Those changes will drive alignment between Dell strategy -- what the vendor is driving on the direct side in terms of compensation and incentives -- and the partner side. New business incentives will ensure that partners are rewarded more and more aggressively for helping Dell in market share gains and top line growth to reach its goals. Multiple line-of-business (LOB) incentives are being put in place to encourage partners to sell more products into LOBs.

Dell partner Pastor hoped to hear Dell say that it will work fast on changing its corporate culture, so his company can be more successful. "I'm optimistic, but Dell is running out of runway," he said.

Next Steps

Learn how the pending EMC buyout will impact channel partners

Find out about Dell channel partners registering more deals and growing revenue

Read a case study on Dell Direct partnering with a channel ally in a storage deal

Dig Deeper on Channel partner programs

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