Dell OEM Leaves Veteran Industry Analyst Speechless

Last Thursday, I was invited to the Austin Hyatt to talk to several key industry analysts from Forrester, IDC and several top independent analysts. One of whom was tech-industry heavyweight, Rob Enderle of the eponymously-named Enderle Group and Valley View Ventures. These conversations took place at the end of a long day of presentations by multiple Dell executives, including Michael Dell.

I spoke with 3-4 analysts at a time and Enderle was in the first group. Given the late hour, I was unsure how an OEM conversation would play out with individuals to whom we hadn’t previously spoken and for whom healthy cynicism was a job requirement. I was completely unprepared for the level of engagement, interest and validation I encountered from the first words I spoke. And, these folks “got it” in a way I hadn’t really experienced beyond our customers and inside Dell.

And it wasn’t just the OEM technology conversation that made instant sense to them but the value and business case for our organization within Dell. Their insight was impressive and it was really enjoyable to field their questions. Some of Enderle’s included:

  • What’s the weirdest thing you build? While we don’t build the “weird things,” Dell standard hardware is in all kinds of cool technologies from touchscreen casino and interactive arcade games to ultrasound and body scanning systems.  OptiPlex desktops power these devices.
  • Are these products partially assembled? As we sell Dell standard hardware, our products are fully assembled. For our embedded customers like those noted above, the end user is never aware that Dell is powering the technology. For our appliance customers (servers, storage) we can customize almost any part of the device hardware or software. We also provide custom fulfillment.
  • Do you carry inventory? No. All products are made to order for our customers, which makes inventory management painless.
  • What is the Google appliance? It’s a Google-branded server used by large companies to manage Intranet search traffic. This is one of our best examples of an end-to-end custom solution. We designed the cool yellow chassis, placed the company logo, managed manufacturing and supply-chain processes. We even put the Google shirt in the box as part of our custom fulfillment.

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They were also surprised to learn that OEM Solutions grew 5X in six years. A growth trajectory not commonly seen in any industry.

While I was confident the conversations had gone well at their conclusion, I had no idea how well until I saw this blog post from Enderle. Titled “Reinventing Dell One Executive at a Time,” the post is a great recap of the conversations Enderle had with our executive team. It was his wrap-up paragraph that I was very happy to see:

“On top of that there is actually some really interesting stuff going on inside the company and the surprising success of their secret OEM group left me almost speechless. I left expecting amazing things coming from Dell’s future and with the thought that sometimes it’s the things you didn’t know about that redefine a company in ways you couldn’t imagine.”

In addition to Rob Enderle, I also talked to:

  • Charles King, Roger Kay, Ray Wang (Valley View Ventures)
  • James Staten, Chris Mines (Forrester)
  • Matt Eastwood, Rebecca Segal (IDC)

We’re looking forward to building on this momentum in the coming months and years as new market segments learn about our organization and how we help our customers gain competitive edge through innovation. And, though we’re pleased with this recognition from the industry, it just means that we’ll need to work even harder as Dell OEM Solutions moves onto the radar screen.

Where are you seeing the opportunities in the OEM market?