If you’d been a fly on the wall to overhear their discussion, you would have heard them talk about the changing nature of the role of the CIO in the age of instant gratification. When BlackBerry first formed as a company, a mobile device product cycle was every four-and-half years, Humphries says, and now it’s every four-and-a-half months. When technology changeover is happening so quickly, a CIO has to evolve right along with it.
“The vast majority of his time is not spent on network, compute, applications,” he said on stage. “It’s with an eye to the outside.”
In his onstage presentation and an interview with CDN sister publication ITWorldCanada.com at Dell Canada’s headliner event for customers and clients in Toronto, the Geneva-based president spoke to the importance of the region for Dell, and of his customer-centric strategy.
Canada is in the top 10 countries for Dell’s revenue globally, he said, and the IT services firm is committed to the region as it continues to pursue its mission of overtaking rival HP Inc. as the world’s number one server seller. Meanwhile, it’s working to close the mega-acquisition of storage vendor EMC Corp. to help bolster its strategy and continuing to reap the benefits of taking the company off the public market.
While it doesn’t disclose hiring numbers for individual countries, Dell has been scaling up its sales team in Canada, Humphries shares. It’s a move that may not have been possible if it was still worried about a stock ticker, with shareholders scrutinizing every expense. But as a wholly private firm, Dell is able to deliver on its sales strategy that keeps the customer-to-sales rep ratio low. Doing that helps Dell keep its net promoter scores high — a metric that Humphries watches closely.
“Happier customers leads to better-engaged customers, which leads to better opportunities to help customers meet their goals, which leads down the road to better financial opportunities,” he says. “It helps our ability to attract and acquire new customers and our ability to achieve their business aspirations.”
Last summer, Dell launched its Datacenter Scalable Solutions (DSS) business, a line that may appeal to many mid-sized Canadian enterprises. Designed to serve the level of enterprise right below hyperscale, it hits the sweet spot for a company that needs to scale up quickly and needs some degree of customization for its environment.
The business is ramping up successfully, says Humphries, who sees the business as a multi-billion dollar opportunity. Dell was able to take what it learned from providing its hyperscale Data Center Services (DCS) and apply that to the next layer of customers to make DSS work globally.
It’s all part of the plan to eventually be the number one vendor in the server market, Humphries says, referring to a position that’s currently held by his former employer, HP.
“It’s being number one in product innovation, but also in business model innovation,” he says. “It starts with a personal engagement model and fits under the extreme scale infrastructure.”
Of course, when DSS was launched, Humphries was describing EMC as a competitor; now Dell is looking to close its acquisition of EMC by October. Until that time, Humphries’ view on EMC hasn’t changed.
“They will stay a competitor until they are part of the Dell family,” he says.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not already looking at how the companies will fit together and what the integration plan will look like.
“A lot of the elements of the EMC lineup fit the needs we’ve identified for a number of years now,” he says. “EMC’s strength has been in very large customers. Dell has been in mid-market and above. So there’s a natural fit.”
Plus a high opportunity to cross-sell, he says. When the acquisition does close, the integration plan prioritizes managing it with an eye on customers and partners first.
“It starts with practical things, it’s making sure we have adequate coverage,” he says. “Putting ourselves where we have intimacy of coverage and make sure we can help them achieve their goals.”
And just like when he was dining with BlackBerry’s CIO, Humphries doesn’t expect the conversation with customers to be about products. In the new world of IT, the conversation will be about how Dell can help them achieve their goals.