Dell Wraps Arms Around the Channel

About 6 months ago I sent an email out to a group of 60 or so colleagues in the channel, executives at various solution providers, and asked them about Dell. I asked who was using them and what their thoughts were. The response I got back was grim to say the least. Of those who catered to the small business segment, which was the majority, there was only 1 company who was happy with them and still used them. Of those who catered to the mid-market, there was more of a mixed response.

The overwhelming feedback was that Dell did not embrace the channel well. Stories of clients being stolen and deals getting lost to Dell, after the solution providers contacted Dell for pricing, were the main complaint. Recent acquisitions by Dell also have the channel worried that Dell’s strategy is to sabotage the channel and go direct. I have been torn on this issue, on one side Dell was treating the channel poorly, on the other side, I secretly loved their products. The Dell XPS 13, I am typing this article on …rocks.

Anyway, over the course of about 4 months, as I spoke with Dell about their cloud strategy, I had several conversations and email exchanges with Dell executives on the channel and what their plan was. They recognize that the channel is important to their long-term strategy, and they recognize that there have been some tactical mistakes in how partners were treated.

Two weeks ago, Dell added fuel to boost those words, when they announced that they were releasing their , and that it had been in the works early on. I spoke with other executives about some of the other problems and in multiple conversations with various executives across geographic locations, they assured me that they have a strict opportunity registration process to protect deals brought in from partners, they also assured me that they have strict rules of engagement that all the departments follow to make sure that opportunities stay with their partners.

Bob Skelley, the Executive Director of the Global Certified Partner Program & Channel told me, “We have implemented a strong opportunity registration process to protect our partners, including internal corrective measures that are followed by Dell if someone were to break our partners trust. We firmly stand-up and stand-behind the registration process, and our partners.”

Furthermore, Dell has been throwing a lot of time and money into developing certifications for their partners to help them position themselves better with Dell products and better be able to handle implementation more efficiently and close sales. I believe this is a good move that the channel needs. There is so much uneasiness about the cloud, that it is smart to take an educational approach to make sure partners are proficient.

I communicated with Diana Spurgis of about the changes Dell is making and their cloud strategy, she stated, “I have heard positive things about the program Dell is announcing, but as far as I am concerned the jury is still out.”

I think it will take some time for the channel to forgive and forget, but Dell is clearly making lots of smart moves at becoming more channel friendly. They also have one of the most complete cloud portfolios that I have analyzed. The more I look at cloud computing, the more I think that solution providers should align themselves with manufacturers (IBM. HP. Dell), for their cloud solutions. But in order to do that, you have to be able to stand behind that manufacturer 100%.

Only time will tell if the manufacturers can be more channel friendly, and while Dell might be behind in launching their cloud platform to the channel, I think they are ahead in courting the channel and giving them what they need.