Its clear Dell that is positioning itself to aggressively move from the PC company it once was to one focused on the consumerization of IT, software, and cloud services that they will eventually need to be.
Lets talk about proof points:
Realize that for a hardware vendor to go hardware independent is a very difficult step. But its critical if they want a solution that will embrace what their customers already have, so that they can become a major player in the desired sectors much more quickly than a rip and replace strategy would allow.
Rarely does an aggressive strategy ideally meet the needs of customers and a vendor. But, in this case, it appears to because IT buyers typically try to aggressively avoid rip and replace strategies they see them as too costly --¬¬ even though these are unfortunately the most prevalent. If buyers accept that Dell is sincere with this approach, and they are, given the companys growth objectives, this should be well received by corporate buyers.
Dell apparently recognizes that to differentiate itself from other large vendors they have to not only appear to be more cost effective, they have to approach the problem in a way that demonstrates both eventual and current cost savings.
Part of this clearly is the result of going rapidly from a company that rarely if ever does acquisitions to one that has successfully done 8 acquisitions over a 12-month period.
Messaging, however, appears to be shifting to the other efforts, primarily to help change the perceptions surrounding the company. That appears to be why folks often seem to think Dell is abandoning these businesses, but their CFO assures that this is not the case. Investments, while they may lag areas where Dell is quickly trying to build a significant presence, arent trivial either.
This means that they need to be able to work across multiple platforms and provide centralized services for devices that werent designed for them.
This takes them down a rather interesting integration path that may be somewhat unique in their class of company and, once again, one that IT buyers at all levels may appreciate. This path is focused on solving critical integration and management problems, as opposed to simply introducing them with new attractive consumer products that workers introduce into their companies. This focus is one that should resonate.
This is not a typical path, though it is one I think IT folks the world over have been praying major vendors will take. The only other company Ive seen adopt this concept as broadly as Dell is doing is Microsoft -- and they were initially forced down this path by the European Union. (They then surprisingly discovered that focusing on interoperability not only generally eliminated much of the Linux aggravation, it actually improved their sales.)
The lasting lesson I expect well see repeated is: when a vendor focuses on customer needs ahead of simply trying to maximize product sales they are likely to actually be more successful. This is primarily because, in a world awash with vendors pitching forklift upgrades, a vendor who makes what folks already have is more valued and most firms simply cant afford most forklift upgrades anyway.
In short, by not focusing on pushing hardware, Dell might actually end up selling more of it. Go figure.