As Dell EMC gears up to take the market by storm with the release of the new 14G Server platform, Christoph Theisinger, heading presales in APJ shares his thoughts on how the IT business is changing and sheds light on Dell EMC’s plans for India and Asia Pacific region.
How has the Indian market been for Dell EMC in comparison to other geographies in APJ?
The Indian market is our second largest market. For Dell EMC, it has been our first quarter together, and across the Asian markets, we have been very successful. It is a solid foundation. We have seen that the customers like the go-to market which is less based on products and features and more about partnering with customers to help them innovate in a bid to move their business to digital.
The growth is staggering honestly, and particularly India being a technology savvy market, the Datacenter market is currently at USD2.2 Billion and is expected to grow to USD4.2 Billion in 2018 and to USD7 Billion in 2022. We have a leadership position growing in double digits over the last year and are on a good trajectory moving forward.
“Going digital, businesses need to ensure that their underlying IT infrastructure and the business operating model which is in use are modernized.”
VP Presales APJ
What are the focus areas where Dell EMC can support the digital transformation of Indian enterprises?
Going digital, businesses need to ensure that their underlying IT infrastructure and the business operating model which is in use are modernized through technology. Particularly in the Indian market, the CIOs are adopting IT-as-a-service model. Today, everything is somehow advertized as a service: It is priced in such a way with things like charge back. This process has to be very agile and can’t be done if the underlying infrastructure doesn’t support the model.
Other key focus area for us is improving the productivity of the workforce. In today’s modern business environments, millennial workforce is using technology to innovate, collaborate and evolve business models. This is an area where we think we can gain productivity in organizations.
Last but definitely not the least, Security is always a core concern everywhere and we are looking at how can we help organizations in strengthening their security, be more preventive in their approach, know their cybersecurity insurance premium etc. So it is very much a business proposition. If you look at our solution and product portfolio, we have market leading server portfolio and recently launched the latest 14G. There are different server use cases, the market is moving from buying boxes to buying Hyper-converged Infrastructure where we have all the components of the datacenter in an integrated experience ready to be used. Use cases include machine learning, machine intelligence etc.
How has the pre-sales pitch changed over the years with enterprise IT architectures rapidly transforming?
I am an inherited EMC person. Before the merger, we had a big portfolio of products but it was primarily storage and data protection focused which basically helped us maintain a certain level of product expertise. Now with the portfolio growing even wider, it demands that we use a different approach when interacting with the customer. Our customer conversations are around digital transformation as earlier mentioned. The approach we are taking moving forward as Dell EMC is more on the lines of the enterprise architecture approach. In my personal experience, what has been missing in the traditional selling approach is the business context. The business context is very important when it comes to building a technology strategy with a customer. So it should be more of a partnership and when the partnership and the context are both in place, only then can we work out a long term technology strategy which is co-owned with the customer and fruitful to both the parties involved.
It is a skill transformation honestly and something we have been going through for a while now at an accelerated pace. Having said that, the Presales team consists of a number of generalists, but we also have specialists which enables us to work across solutions, and understand the business impact. We rely on a strong foundation of product expertise which allows team members to make a decision regarding architecture or engineering.
How do you go about the POC and Simulations? Who heads them at the customer end: Dell EMC or the integration partners?
It’s a bit of both for us but the customer scenarios are becoming more complex. An organization can buy infrastructure based on specs and pricing but that’s not the way to go about it. Typically, customers have specific use cases in mind ranging from virtual desktop infrastructure, machine learning and machine intelligence, large-scale Big Data scenarios etc. Now to build all these scenarios is a goliath task. It requires resources on our side, resources maybe on the partner side, and definitely the right resources on the customer side. We have been investing big time in solution centers and briefing centers where we can collaborate with customers and work on a foundation which already exists in their organizations.
Speaking of India, we are already in a very fortunate position with our Center of Excellence (CoE) in Bangalore where we have product engineering and product support. The Bangalore CoE maintains a research lab with a whole number of use cases where our customers and partner organizations can go, test and try out new technologies and deployments. We have to acknowledge the fact that things are becoming more complex. We are morphing in the way we deliver the Proof to more of a solution center approach at the same time trying to attach it to the business value.
Is CIO the only link in your customer conversations or do they extend to other members of the leadership team like CFOs, CEOs etc.?
In today’s scenario, everybody is. We use a tagline in our organizations – IT becomes the business. With the way the organizations are changing, IT team members are placed in the business unit to better understand the requirements of the marketing, sales or finance department. It is simple: When you uncover the business value of a particular solution, a business buyer might actually give you the proof.
To explain this, I’ll use a performance based customer example. A customer needed to run a couple of database batches for which we have a very performance oriented solution. The customer liked it because the jobs ran 10 times faster with the solution. When we re-engineered to understand what was happening, we did an evaluation of the products and services delivered to be able to build upon the customers’ requirements. The solution helped them in turn to build customers early which directly impacted their cash flow, thus making it actually a CFO decision. The CFO of the company said and I quote, “If this technology has proven that it can deliver worth for us, we are going to adopt it.”
So we are heading in that direction, but it’s a gradual journey to sell to and partner with business stakeholders. Although it’s centers on the Presales group, the conversations impact the sales group and the marketing message. Our transformation message and how we talk about our solutions is centered on the business message and that allows us to have such conversations, because if I talk to a CFO about how fantastic the new Intel Xeon processors are, he probably would just turn around and walk away.
What is the strength of Dell EMC’s engineering team in India and how are they catering to specific geographies?
We are organized in business units. There is a server business unit, and an HCI business unit. Both the units use our CoE facilities and offshore development center capabilities. We have a multi location approach. I would like to add that a major portion of the 14G server platform was developed out of the Bangalore CoE, something we in the APJ region are very proud of. The Indian engineering team has had a long-term partnership with the headquarters engineering organization which started with the 6th gen server platform.