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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Dell XPS 13 – Straight from the heart

Since the last 3 years I have been listening to Jeff Clarke, Dell’s vice-chairman of Operations and president of Client Solutions, and his team talk about innovation within Dell and how XPS-13, Dell’s flagship, initially consumer-focused and now business-ready notebook, is one of the most innovative laptops in the market. I must confess that after every meeting I walked away with a bit of cynicism. Every single time I had questions but no answers. Did a borderless InfinityEdge display define innovation? Did premium materials explain innovation? Did high-performance describe innovation? What about the issues that small businesses really cared about – improve productivity, provide security, easy manageability, exceptional support and low price? These would certainly count towards innovation. But then many of these improvements are usually driven by underlying software and not the hardware.

I have been a ThinkPad user for most of my working life – from my IDC days in Hong Kong to present time at Techaisle. Except for the time period when I was at Gartner. I am not a case of old-habits-die-hard but I have had a genuine admiration for the IBM & now Lenovo ThinkPad series. It never needed any support, except for that one occasion when I foolishly crushed it that cracked the screen. There was also a period as an analyst when I maintained three different brands. HP notebooks to bring to meetings with HP, IBM/Lenovo for their respective meetings, and Dell for meetings with Dell. However, I realized that a ThinkPad brand was one of the most non-controversial notebook to bring to meetings & presentations without evoking any sarcastic banter.

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Survey shows US Small businesses forecast to purchase 11m PCs in 2017

Techaisle’s US SMB survey data shows that 44% of US small businesses are planning to purchase at least one PC in 2017. If all keep to their PC purchase plan, then US small businesses will likely purchase 11.1 million PCs in 2017. However, if the US economy falters and small businesses feel unexpected growth pressures then the number may fall to 7.1 million PCs. The most likely US small business PC purchase scenario for 2017 is 8.4 million units.

The plan to purchase penetration is massively up from 34% in 2015 when only 2.6 million PCs were purchased by small businesses. The 2016 actual PC purchase data is still being analyzed by Techaisle.

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The Great Recession, Consumerization, and the birth of BYOD trend, more so in SMBs

The ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend has its roots in two significant events that challenged corporate IT behavior. The first was the “Great Recession” of 2008-2009. The recession affected the entire economy, and IT was not spared its shadow. One key result of the recession was the interruption of regular refresh cycles. Prior to the recession, many businesses replaced endpoint devices (then, almost exclusively PCs) on a regular cycle – e.g., one third of devices would be refreshed every year, and the devices themselves would be used for three years, dividing the capital cost of keeping endpoint technology up-to-date across multiple annual budgets. The cash crunch that hit most businesses in the recession prompted many to forego refresh cycles, replacing individual units only when they failed. This approach did conserve scarce resources during the downturn, but when stability returned to the economy, CIOs realized that a large proportion of corporate endpoints were due for replacement – and CFOs realized that they lacked the CAPEX funds needed to refresh the entire endpoint fleet.

At the same time, another trend – Consumerization – was sweeping through the IT industry.

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Dell India: Priming for IT leadership position

Intense India Focus

Indian government's Digital India campaign is getting the attention of almost everybody in the IT industry, be it the multinationals or the local players. Sensing the vast potential, Dell started early with its governing body inaugurating the entire launch of Digital India in Delhi. Summing up his excitement, Alok Ohrie, President, Dell India said, “It is one of those campaigns which I believe is going to really position the country to a point where clearly it will continue to become stronger as an economy and would help realize the dreams of the nation with regards to it being a knowledge based economy. This is one initiative from the government that's going to really energize spend on IT and it is also going to be a big play for most of the players in the IT industry”.

Dell in India is also beyond just domestic operations. Almost all business functions that exist globally are represented in India including an R&D setup of about 2,500 engineers and PhDs. The India-based R&D unit seems to have played a big hand in the development of Dell’s 13G server technology.

Capitalizing on privatization

Immediately after privatization, Dell executives saw the potential for an accelerated pace of execution of various initiatives at a global level as well as a whole lot of flexibility and encouragement to try new go-to-market models. This agility is what Dell India needed and as per its executives “has benefited Dell India big time”. In fact, they are quick to point out that the India operations have grown a little faster than the global business, “our growth in India versus the competition is five to six times faster”.

Midmarket businesses in India are listening and are accepting Dell’s end-to-end solution story and are expecting an advisory role and a consultative approach from Dell in their engagements. Many digital commerce businesses are also looking for Dell to help them define a blueprint for future with regards to IT deployment. Being private with an end-to-end solution orientation Dell’s India sales organization is neither getting limited nor getting constrained in its alignments with customer business objectives, nudging the customers to a future ready infrastructure capable of delivering a future ready enterprise. Playing an advisory role is also forcing the sales organization to be creative in its solution design, unrestricted as it does not have any legacy to protect.

The new GTM

In early 2014, Dell India rolled out a new GTM strategy for the India market. The new GTM strategy was first piloted in India and provides customers with a choice of being with Dell, either direct or indirectly through a partner. It is a GTM model that lends itself extremely well to improving Dell India’s engagement across different customer segments. This strategy brings a change from Dell India’s direct approach in the past with Dell introducing three RTMs: 1/Dell Led for direct sales engagement, 2/ Partner Led for business accounts with special pricing and products; and 3/ Distribution Led for consumer IT products.

Within the GTM model there are three different RTMs (routes-to-market). First is the Dell-led RTM which is Dell’s direct engagement with end-customers. Some of the account managers’ training modules have been modified to help them have deeper, richer, more mature conversations with customers in the form of advisory roles and consultative approaches. However, Dell-led RTM does not mean that partners are shut out from engaging in the same account along with Dell. The partners bring complementary skill-sets to work along with Dell solution experts. Dell asserts that it is more than willing to work with a partner and hence Dell has named the RTM as Dell-led and not Dell direct.

Within the Dell-led RTM, Dell has further segregated accounts into two: one that is more of reach, development & penetration consists of Dell India’s existing accounts and where a lot is already known about the customer; and in the other are those accounts that Dell calls as activation. There are close to 2,500 accounts in Dell-led RTM which are split into four geographies - the north, south, east and west.

The second RTM is the Partner-led RTM for business accounts with special pricing and products. Apart from the 2,500 accounts, the rest of the named accounts have been identified for partners to engage with by identifying, developing and addressing the opportunities. Dell is in a support mode in these opportunities.

The third RTM is distribution-led RTM focused on consumer IT products. This RTM was developed to expand reach into customers in tier 3/4/5 cities as well as customers who are not IT savvy. Dell currently has five distributors in India and a web of local distributors to reach into remote areas of India.

Disappearing Partner Conflict

Dell is recognizing the need to erase the perception of consistent channel conflict and hopes that the three different RTMs will help. Alok Ohrie points out, “anomalies have been removed through the new GTM model and it is a very, very predictable model for the partners”.

Techaisle’s India analyst, Gitika Bajaj and Arun Mishra crisscross the entire country directly meeting with channel partners. Not every Dell channel partner is happy but from an overall perspective there is obviously tremendous momentum and Dell’s RTM has legs. Comparing Dell with its closest competitors, channel partners say that “Dell's responsiveness is impeccable when a deal is being struck at the end user level”.

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