This is the second post in a two-part blog series discussing Dell’s strategy to help SMBs better capitalize on technology. The first, A New Cloud Formation: Dell Cloud Marketplace, provides perspectives from Dell World 2014. This second post, which is excerpted from SMB Group’s April 2014 report, Guiding Stars: Vendor Strategies to Bring Game-Changing Technology Trends to SMBs, offers additional insights into Dell’s approach to help SMBs capitalize on technology trends.
The writing is on the wall for any business: With customers and prospects racing into the digital, mobile, and social future at breakneck speed, SMBs must proactively deploy technology to improve both business processes and the customer experience. SMBs that figure out how to use technology to stay ahead of their customers’ demands will thrive, while those that don’t face extinction.
But there are lots of vendors and solutions out there ready to help you on your journey, and one-size-fit all doesn’t apply in SMB. Is Dell a good fit for you? Read on for information and insights to help you decide.
Dell’s Strategy to Bring Game Changing Technologies to SMBs
Dell sees cloud, mobile, social, analytics and other technologies converging towards the next pivotal tipping point, where IT will change the lives and experiences of nearly every industry, country and person on the planet.
Dell articulates its view on top technology trends somewhat differently than other vendors interviewed for this report. However, the same technology trends—cloud, analytics, social, mobile and security—are core to Dell’s top picks. Dell sees the following trends ushering in new wave of business transformation, similar or greater in scope to how the Internet and web affected businesses:
- People will increasingly rely on technology to connect, collaborate and accomplish tasks and goals. Embedded in user-friendly solutions, cloud, social and mobile technologies enable SMBs to connect, collaborate and engage anytime, anywhere to better serve their customers and to work more efficiently.
- IT is changing from a support function to becoming core most business operations, and business decision-makers are increasingly involved in IT decisions to ensure the business gets the value it needs from IT.
- Amidst the growing volumes of structured unstructured data, SMBs that have the rights tools to find the needles in the haystack and uncover useful, actionable information and insights will gain competitive and market advantages.
- As SMBs rely more on technology to run their businesses and engage with customers, partners, suppliers and others, taking measures to secure and protect data, information and access are increasingly essential to business viability.
Some of the tangible ways that Dell is helping SMBs capitalize on these changes include:
- Becoming an über-cloud provider: Dell has been steadily expanding the Dell Cloud Partner Program to provide access and end-to-end support for offerings from multiple cloud vendors.
- Offering open, private-cloud solutions, which should help give SMBs more confidence in using OpenStack as an alternative to proprietary IaaS and PaaS (infrastructure and platform as-a-service) alternatives.
- Expanding portfolio of mobile management solutions, such as Enterprise Mobility Management, a unified mobile management solution to managed devices, apps, and content, and Secure Remote Access Gateway to protect endpoints.
- New intellectual property gained from acquisitions such as SonicWALL, Quest, Boomi, Compellent and Force10 is skewed towards the SMB world. In fact, Dell views SMB and midmarket as an ideal focal point for development and acquisitions since it believes large organizations also want scalable solutions that are easier to deploy and use too.
Changes in SMB Technology Expectations and Behavior
Fueled by the web, mobile and social access, Dell sees changes in how SMBs evaluate and shop for solutions. Today, SMBs are more prone to have done their homework before they come to the sales table. Armed with a greater understanding upfront, they are looking for vendors and partners that will listen to what they are trying to do and offer authentic, objective and knowledgeable guidance. In addition, Dell believes that simply doing the right things for people works. To that end, Dell prefers having its customers tell its story rather than Dell telling it. For example, Dell cites the tornado damage in Oklahoma City last spring, where Dell served as a first responder, as exemplifying its commitment to doing the right thing to earn customers’ faith in Dell.
Dell sees both the role of SMB IT and business decision-makers morphing. More frequently, line-of-business (LoB) managers are not only customers of IT departments, but also co-owners of IT. This means that IT staff must work harder to meet increasing demands, and become more educated and engaged in business operations and strategy than in the past. SMB IT personnel need more practical and actionable advice and support from vendors and their channel partners to juggle ongoing IT management with innovation.
SMBs are also scrutinizing “calculated risks” much more carefully. For instance, SMBs are interested in the cloud because of affordability and ease of access/use advantages, but want to ensure that cloud solutions are secure and reliable. SMBs are also more likely to factor business disruption into the cost/benefit analysis for any given solution. They are getting wiser about the perils of bad decisions and implementations, so the bar keeps getting higher to deliver solutions with less business disruption and faster time to value.
Finally, SMBs increasingly recognize that the technology-performance connection is real, and can be used to accelerate growth disrupt industry icons with innovation and agility. The perspective is summed up in Dell’s latest ad campaign. SMBs can use new technologies not only to reshape their existing businesses, but also to redefine the economics of an industry and expectation of the market.
However, one constant remains. Most SMBs need capitalize on these opportunities without putting themselves in financial or operational jeopardy. SMB budgets, IT staff and expertise aren’t often able to both maintain what they have and innovate within the window of opportunity. So Dell is focusing on designing, delivering, supporting and financing solutions that take these constraints into account.
Perspective: Dell as SMB Technology Catalyst
Dell’s journey to transform itself has been in progress for a few years. While on Wall Street’s watch, it wasn’t easy for Dell to recast its image from a transaction-oriented hardware company to an end-to-end solutions provider and trusted advisor.
However, Dell’s entrepreneurial heritage is once again alive and well. Michael Dell not only started the company in his dorm room when he was a 19-year old student at the University of Texas, but took it private in 2013 to gain control over its destiny again. With genuine DNA at the heart of Dell’s commitment to SMBs and entrepreneurs, Dell can take a longer-term view on return on investment in new technologies. This should enable it to launch more innovative and affordable cloud computing, mobile, social, analytics and security technologies geared to SMB requirements.
In addition, Dell prides itself on listening to its customers and creating a mutually beneficial dialogue. Dell’s Social Media Command Center is one of the best in the industry, and Dell’s SMB and partner outreach programs are extensive.
While Dell is still in the midst of its own transformation journey, its attitudes and actions when it comes to SMBs should help it to significantly broaden its status as a trusted advisor in this market.