Dell is finally doing what all its contemporaries have done for years -- holding a customer-focused conference. Dubbed Dell World, the PC maker is hosting its inaugural event in Austin, Texas, this week.
Although the event hasn't seen any earth-shattering announcements, the first-ever Dell World is offering a progress update on strategy design so customers can navigate IT needs spanning from the desktop to the data center to the cloud.
"Earlier this year we announced a $1 billion investment in technology solutions, extending the company's global reach into data-center, mobile and cloud environments," said Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell. "We're committed to continuing to listen to our customers and deliver flexible solutions that truly address the problems they are trying to solve each day."
Tech Stars Come Out
Dell World 2011 is attracting industry thought-leaders like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, salesforce.com Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff, VMware CEO Paul Maritz, and Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini. The event is designed to encourage discussion and dialog around the technology landscape.
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund IT, stepped out of the Dell World conference to offer some insights. King said there was a strong sense in the air -- and in what he's hearing from Dell -- that the company is dedicated to the business IT world. That, of course, has been a large part of Dell's business almost since the company started. But Dell offered some figures around its importance in one of the sessions.
"Dell said 80 percent of its revenues annually come from its business sales and virtually all of the new features and products that were announced today and yesterday are focused on business computing from the desktop all the way to the data center," King said. "There's been a very large emphasis on the health of the client business."
Focus on Partners
Dell isn't mentioning HP, but industry watchers can read between the lines. In August, HP said it was exploring possibly spinning off its PC business, or even selling it. At that time, HP also said it would stop selling smartphones and tablets. King said one of the reasons is likely pressure that HP is feeling from vendors like Dell.
"Mike Dell was very eloquent in not defending the company's focus on PCs so much as talking about the importance of PCs not only to Dell's business but also the mechanism that PCs offer in reaching out into the lives and minds and pocketbooks of computing end-users," King said. "I think any IT vendor that forgets its end users is walking on thin ice. Dell is on solid ground there."
King also noted a heavy emphasis on partnerships at Dell World. As he sees it, it may be Dell World but a large part of the population of that planet is innovative partners that enjoy synergies with the company. King said Dell recognizes that.
Dell World has also put a heavy spotlight on channel partners. Although Dell has traditionally been a direct-sales company -- and indeed one of the most innovative direct-sales companies in IT -- it is now building up its channel-partner ecosystem.
"By the end of October, worldwide the Dell partner ecosystem will have over 100,000 channel companies in that organization and the channel is getting a lot of love here," King said. "This is what I think is safe to call it the new Dell. The company has been evolving since Mike Dell's return in 2007. He takes a much different view of the channel than the old Dell ever did."