Analysis

A different Dell

Dell World Keynote With Michael DellIn a business world often defined by risk-aversion, Dell is shaking things up. This year’s Dell World Forum – held in Austin, Texas from November 4 to 6 – was a testament to the company’s drive to keep things cutting-edge. Though Austin may seem like an odd locale for such a conference – similar events are usually held in Las Vegas or San Francisco – the venue should be no surprise.

Austin is the birthplace of the company, and is home to a population that is dedicated to the city’s motto, “Keep Austin Weird.” In spite of the conservative politics and attitudes of the rest of the state, Austin remains a city motivated by progress. In the same vein, Dell is not afraid to stand out among its competitors. Both Dell and Austin have no problem being the “blueberry in the tomato patch.”

As such, Dell is moving bravely forward. A year after the company went private, by the looks of the 2014 Dell World Forum, it is doing just fine. Over 5,000 attendees packed into the Austin Convention Center to see what the hometown tech giant has up its sleeves. In his keynote speech, Michael Dell addressed the current technology business landscape. “A lot of big companies are going through major organisational transformations. They’re splitting themselves up every which way and you have to wonder who is this for? Does it help their customers and partners? Does it advance the research and development agenda or create better products and services?” he said.

Jeff Clarke, President of the Client Solutions group, noted that Dell’s global PC sales grew nearly ten percent year over year, and that its PC sales in the U.S. grew 25 percent in the past quarter. This growth is occurring as Dell’s competitors are doing damage control or shying away from their PC branches – Dell, instead, is doubling down.

In addition to a healthy PC offering, Dell is also striving to be the leader in end-to-end enterprise solutions. As such, they have recently introduced their 13th generation PowerEdge server, the R730XD, the Dell Network Function Vitualization Platform, the SC4020 All Flash Array and the Dell DCS XA90 among many other new solutions and service offerings from the company. “When you look at things like the trends in security, Big Data, cloud and mobility, there’s always something evolving from a technology perspective and our customers and partners are looking for ways to leverage that and get business advantage from it,” said Bryan Jones, Vice President, Dell Marketing, North America.

Other solutions and products were on display at Dell World Forum. Though the company has put more emphasis on their end-to-end enterprise solutions, they are by no means ignoring their robust PC and tablet selections. Much of Dell’s hardware message centred around enabling the mobile workforce through notebooks and tablets. According to Dell top-brass, the PC is not on its way out, and will increasingly become a strategic cog in the overall business machine.

The forum itself was packed with panel discussions and a truly varied array of speakers. From Dell executives to end-users and experts ranging from Erik Brynjolfsson, Director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy to Jessica Jackley, Founder and former Chief Marketing Officer of KIVA, the world’s first peer to peer microlending website, everyone was out to sing Dell’s praises.

It has been a busy and profitable year for Dell, and the positive outlook was reflected at this year’s Dell World Forum. There are clearly some big ideas on the horizon for the company. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO, X PRIZE Foundation, asserted his vision of this future in the closing keynote. “We’re heading toward an extraordinary world — a world in which we’re going to be able to meet the needs of every man, woman, and child on this planet,” he said.

Even the unusual rainy weather did not manage to damper Dell’s enthusiasm. It is clear the company is confident in its recent decisions, and though it may go against the grain sometimes, it is comfortable standing out.

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