Inside Dell's India Strategy

by Anurag Agrawal    Jun 14, 2012

Anurag AgrawalAbout 10 months ago we had written an article titled “Dell’s SMB Strategy in India: Winning, For How Long?” Within the article we had said that in the last 2 years, Dell had established itself as a leader in the Consumer PC market in India and was trying to extend the same winning streak to the SMB market. But was it a stroke of luck, its own strategy that worked or the fault of others? Stroke of luck does not play into a market which is still considered nascent and growing. Dell had been winning due to equal measure of its own efforts and missteps of others. We said that this winning position was for Dell to lose and others, namely HP to regain. That was ten months ago. If the results of the first two quarters of this year are any indication, HP has bounced back in the PC segment with a vengeance.

However, let us analyze this turn of events carefully. While PC is still a core part of Dell’s business, Dell has rapidly moved on to bigger and better areas. I had an opportunity to sit down for a one-on-one session with Amit Midha, President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Chairman, Global Emerging Markets, Dell. A soft spoken executive, looking visibly jet-lagged but alert, he carefully outlined for me his strategy in the region, specifically in India, his successes and issues that keep him awake in the night.

There was no doubt in his sincerity; there was no hint of pretense; only conviction. Dell has become an end-to-end solutions company. Today, PCs may be what are in demand in India but Dell is actively courting businesses with its mid-market design point strategy and succeeding. If it were not for the customer success stories that were presented a year earlier in a Dell conference in Austin I would have not been wholly convinced. Those customer success stories were from Indian companies, presented to an audience that was predominantly US-centric! Something amazing was happening.

End-to-End Solutions Company

So what is Dell’s strategy? Achieve more with end-to-end IT solutions that power business potential. In simple words - to be an end-to-end IT solutions provider and a trusted partner. Nothing new about the strategy, other IT companies have done and are pursuing it too. It is the way Dell going about it which is interesting, almost in a hurry. Dell has made 20 acquisitions since 2008 to build a solutions delivery capability. It’s R&D, which is increasingly being focused on storage, server, security and networking convergence went up by 40 percent in the last year alone. A key aspect of the strategy is to develop converged solutions that include storage, security, servers and wrapping it all together with services and deliver end user solutions that help customers compute in environments with pervasive data access.

Dell’s end-to-end solutions story is also beginning to look complete with portfolio having evolved from PCs and servers to services. Dell’s software portfolio is not where it should be but Dell is building out its capabilities for on premise software, cloud applications and software embedded in hardware. Consistent with the overall theme it wants to offer software solutions that are easier to buy, easier to use and easier to extract value.

Dell’s vision for not only India but globally is based on three fundamental principles:
1. Information and insight: Delivering insights, real time, from data sets of all sizes
2. Enable agile and efficient IT ops: Freeing IT from repetitive day-to-day activities to focus on creating business value
3. Realize end user potential: Backend architecture designed to optimize the user experience

Channel Alignment
Even the channels organization is perfectly aligned and focused on continuing to grow its PartnerDirect program that was started five years ago. I also had an opportunity to sit down with Greg Davis, Vice President and GM, Dell Global Commercial Channels, a gracious person and it is always a delight to meet with him. He is full of energy, spreads positivity and is on a relentless pursuit to help channels deliver value to their customers. Every time I meet with him his passion for the channel community comes out clearly. He is continuing to make Dell’s rules of engagement very partner friendly and empowering and training channel partners. Greg is ensuring that there is consistent channel engagement across both mature and emerging markets with deal registration, compensation neutrality and executive priority. With over 135,000 training modules delivered in the last year alone it aims to provide simplicity, enablement and a strategy to win datacenters together. To take advantage of new social media networking platforms, Dell has also launched a new social media training program for its channel partners. The training program, developed based on Dell’s own experiences, provides its channel partners access to a number of useful social media tools and tips, including links to all of PartnerDirect’s social media platforms, a Q&A forum, registrations for both a live virtual training session and on-demand refresher courses.

Next Steps for Dell in India
• The entire Dell team has to work hard to get its messaging and capabilities heard by Indian businesses because I feel Dell’s end-to-end solutions story has not yet reached the crescendo it deserves
• SMBs are the fastest growing IT segment in India. Dell should continue to develop and modify its mid-market design point strategy that serves the SMB customers well. By the looks of it Dell is getting consumed by its enterprise strategy leaving little time for the SMBs
• Although planning to introduce tablets and smartphones (in an already one-sided market), it should rapidly formulate and articulate its mobile strategy, a segment that is growing faster in countries like India than most mature markets

Anurag Agrawal
Techaisle