Only a few parts of what’s coming to the channel from Dell was announced at Dell World, but broad sneak peeks were offered about several changes that will roll out at some point in the next fiscal year.
AUSTIN — The partner presence at Dell World has been steadily increasing over the last several years. The partner conference, a day long affair which precedes the formal launch of Dell World, had about 130 partners three years ago, when it was held at a smaller venue several blocks up East 4th Street. Last year, the partner show got closer to the convention centre, at the Hilton Hotel across the street, where it drew about 675 partners. This year, the event had grown to the point where it finally got in the main building at the Austin Convention Centre.
“Now we’ve made it to the adult table in the convention centre, with 1000 of you here,” Dell channel chief Cheryl Cook told the assembled partners in her keynote.
Cook’s keynote had two big themes. She reviewed the $125 million in investments Dell had made over the last year in its channel, $26 million in IT alone, and what they had accomplished. She then laid out, in general terms, some of the things on the agenda for this year, a few of which are being announced now, but others of which are months, or perhaps even quarters away.
“The partner portal enhancements we made have resulted in 25% faster site performance,” Cook said. “We also enhanced tools to improve our response time to you. Our online solutions configurator results in 70 per cent less time in initial quoting, and there is more to come there. We were told from a response time perspective, we could be far more timely on deal approval. Deal approval automation has led to a 26 per cent improvement in response time SLA, and we are not declaring victory.” Cook said Dell will continue to invest more in these areas this year.
“We are continuing to educate the partners on the policies and processes and efficiencies around the ease of doing businesses, talking about these investments we are making around things like ordering and quoting, and now they are seeing the result,” said Jim DeFoe, Vice President, North America Global Commercial Channels at Dell. “It’s why our channel sales as a percentage of the whole has been showing strong double digit growth in the U.S., and has been for a few years.”
Earlier this year, Dell began a ‘Future Ready’ branding campaign aimed at the enterprise market, and both Cook and DeFoe emphasized the importance of developing a Future Ready Channel as well.
“A Future Ready Channel means the ability to sell those solutions and be trained and educated on those capabilities,” he said. “We are putting an emphasis on marketing investments so they can articulate those messages, and we are giving them a financial incentive to do so.”
One of those incentives is a contest in which $1,000,000 will be offered to 10 partners in the U.S, and Canada for the best marketing campaign around Future Ready.
“We are starting it now, will review it over Q4 and announce the winners and distribute the dollars at the end of our Q4 in February,” De Foe said. “The beautiful thing about it is it rewards the creativity of a partner and their marketing department.”
Several new incentives and rebates are also scheduled to roll out in Dell’s new fiscal year.
“We will have new business incentives to reward you more handsomely and aggressively to help us in share gains and top line growth,” Cook said. Other new incentives will include rebates for attaching Dell ProSupport services to hardware, and for bundling Dell Data Protection encryption into sales.
Cook indicated additional training and capability initiatives will be forthcoming as well.
“We won’t just focus on product competencies, but also in the context of solutions and services, so you can deliver that end-to-end solutions capability,” she said. This includes Dell’s first partner services competency, around Dell ProDeploy deployment services, which is live now, and is of sufficient importance to get its own story here.
“Differentiating yourself by garnering these capabilities will indicate you can do more than just architect and sell, by doing the deployment services as well,” Cook said. “We want to make sure you have an opportunity to participate on the services front.”
Dell will also launch a formal services provider program, and other new competencies are coming soon.
“This is a call to action to update your competencies now to prepare for new solution competencies that will be available in Q1,” Cook said.
More software training is also coming.
“There will be more software product training we will launch including product adjacency, bringing in multiple assets and multiple capabilities,” Cook said. Training reach will also be extended by enlisting some distributors as Dell Authorized Training Partners, although details of this remain slim at this time.
While Cook did not any announce any new Dell blueprints, she stressed that the over 13 engineered solutions and over 20 reference architectures compiled to date as part of Dell’s partnering software solutions strategy is something partners can take advantage of.
Cook noted as well the salience to the channel of the Scale-Ready payment model being announced to help sell the new Cloud Platform System Standard co-engineered with Microsoft. It lets customers avoid an upfront long term commitment and letting them experience hybrid cloud usage levels before committing to the purchase.
“This is an important addition to help you adapt to the as-a-service trend,” she told partners.
Dell Financial Services is another area partners need to exploit, she added.
“We have brought DFS as a tool to you and your customers, not just in traditional leasing but in added credit capacity, and extended payment terms,” she said.
“DFS is a really exciting piece of our business right now,” De Foe said. “Partner leases grow dramatically year over year, with over four million in referral fees now going back to the partners. That will continue to accelerate.”
While Dell has stressed repeatedly the benefits they have received from going private over the last two years, De Foe also indicated something that has received relatively little emphasis, that Dell’s channel strategy has benefited a great deal from it.
“Going private has helped us forward-look,” he said. “As a public company, we used to plan for a quarter to 6 months out. Now I have a five year look for the US and channel and came out with a five year project for storage specialists, systems consultants, technical sales representatives and channel account managers. We wouldn’t have had five year plans before. We would have directional discussions.”