Dell EMC is ready to flip the switch on a partner-led strategy for its entire server, storage and networking portfolio, and it's bringing that strategy to the commercial side of its PC business as well, establishing rules of engagement that favor partners that gain traction and loyalty among their customers.
Channel Chief John Byrne said the plan will take effect May 22, he announced Monday at the Dell EMC World conference in Las Vegas. The plan had been announced for Dell EMC's storage business in September, when Dell completed its $58 billion acquisition of EMC. Four months later, Dell extended it to the server and networking businesses.
The plan, known as "line of business incumbency," is similar to the "hard deck" system EMC had deployed within its pre-acquisition partner program. The hard deck stipulated that deals under a certain revenue threshold were automatically partner-led. The system was popular among EMC partners, and they hoped Dell would do something similar after the acquisition. Conflict with direct sales executives had been a sore spot among some Dell partners.
[Related: Dell EMC World 2017]
Now, the system is being applied to the commercial PC business. "We want to provide our partners with the assurance [that] new Client Solutions Group business they bring to Dell EMC will be protected," Byrne said. "When you think back to before the acquisition was done, our competition was saying 'Dell is really going to mess up the EMC channel.' EMC had really done a nice job on predictability of engagement. We brought out line-of-business incumbency. No one expected that."
"It's the same concept, the same principle [for the commercial PC business]," Byrne said. "Partners really have a line of sight to making money. People were very vocal about what they thought was the best of both programs and what they thought was the worst of both programs, and I think we brought all of that together."
Michael Goldstein, president of LAN Infotech, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., solution provider that works with Dell EMC, said bringing line-of-business incumbency to the PC business signals to partners that Dell EMC remains committed to all aspects of its sprawling product line.
"Sometimes [a] client gets left out in a lot of these larger programs," Goldstein said. "It's helpful and it's good to see them focusing across the stack. It's good to see them thinking about the big picture and making enhancements as they go along. It's important that they apply everything across the stack, not just the data center."
Goldstein said incumbency gives partners the sense that they don't have to watch their backs or brace for conflict with Dell direct salespeople as partners begin to see a boost in PC business as more customers begin to move to Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system.
"I don't have to worry about everyone else coming into it," Goldstein said. "We can just keep doing what we do. Our clients are happy. It really comes down to innovation, and products keep coming out. Then there's the reliability factor, and it has to function great and look great on the desk. Windows 10 has become a reality for everybody at this point, and we're seeing a lot of Windows 10 momentum. A lot of people are buying more than a tablet, but less than a laptop. They can get Windows 10, security, licensing. The client feels comfortable and gets a sharp, light device that we can secure."