Michael Dell often says what we do here at Dell matters – to our customers, our employees and to people around the world. That belief drives me personally day in, day out for the last 30 years to deliver the best products and to take everything we do to the next level…from PC and infrastructure innovation to creating a closed-loop supply chain that reduces waste.
Well, I’m incredibly proud to announce that Fortune has taken notice, naming Dell Technologies to its 2018 Most Admired Companies listing. This is, by far, one of the most exciting honors we’ve received – and in just our first year as our newly combined organization.
I had the opportunity to share my perspective on what sets Dell Technologies apart, what I’m most proud of, the keys to our success and how we’re driving innovation. I, of course, had a lot to say – but there’s only so much room on one page! Fortune’s spotlight captures what makes Dell Technologies a global powerhouse. But there’s more to our story – so I’m sharing the Q&A conversation below.
As our Chief Human Resources Officer Steve Price said on Direct2Dell, we owe a huge thank you to our employees, our customers and partners, and our leadership team. This honor is a reflection of our collective commitment to delivering game-changing technology, services and innovation – responsibly.
What does it mean for Dell Technologies to be named one of the world’s most admired companies?
It’s a real honor, especially for our 140,000 team members, and testament to the value of Dell Technologies – a unique family of businesses that exist to provide the essential infrastructure organizations need to realize their digital future and drive progress around the world. With the edge, data center and cloud capabilities of Dell, Dell EMC, VMware, Virtustream, RSA, Pivotal and Secureworks, customers can turn to us as their one-stop-shop for the full IT stack. We have a totally unique value proposition in the market. To be recognized by our customers and the entire business community as one of the most admired companies in the world just a year-and-a-half after Dell Technologies was born, is an incredibly proud moment for us.
What company initiatives, products, or services are you most proud of?
Innovation in our supply chain is a soft spot for me. Supply chain is a big part of Dell’s legacy we are extending across Dell Technologies. Through our supplier relationships, diversity in sourcing, operational excellence and transparency, we have one of the most innovative and effective supply chains in the world. This gives us scale that benefits our customers and makes technology more accessible to more people everywhere around the world.
A little known fact: 70 percent of all the commercial RFPs we respond to ask about our sustainability commitment. A big part of that commitment is our sustainable supply chain. From reclaiming carbon fiber from aerospace, to upcycling ocean plastic into packaging, to recycling plastic back into our products and now piloting reuse of recycled gold from motherboards, sustainable business is smart business today.
A few numbers worth touting. Since 2012, we have recycled more than 50 million pounds of content into new products. Since 2015, we have reused two million pounds of aerospace grade recycled carbon fiber in new Dell products that would have otherwise gone to a landfill. In Dec. 2017, we formed a working group called NextWave along with the Lonely Whale Foundation, GM, Trek Bicycle, Herman Miller and Microsoft to open source our ocean plastics supply chain work to expand use cases of this trash. We anticipate that together we’ll divert more than three million pounds of plastics from entering the ocean within five years. The equivalent to keeping 66M water bottles from washing out to sea. While this is only a drop in the ocean of plastic trash, it’s a good start. Plus, we’re able to do it while cutting our own packaging costs.
What is Dell Technologies’ approach to ongoing success?
As a 30-year veteran of the company, I’ve seen us grow while maintaining our risk-taking, fast-decision-making culture. A bias to action is a real strength for us. Michael has said it many times that our unique structure as Dell Technologies allows us to be nimble and innovative like a startup with the scale of a global powerhouse.
That is one attribute the strategically aligned businesses, like VMware, especially add value. Dell has a big footprint in many large markets creating access and acceleration in products we develop together like VxRail – the only fully integrated, preconfigured and pre-tested VMware hyper-converged infrastructure appliance on the market. VMware’s success just earned them the No. 6 spot on Fortune’s inaugural Future 50 list, the ranking of companies best positioned for breakout growth. Put the scale of Dell and Dell EMC with the growth potential of VMware, Pivotal, Virtustream, RSA and Secureworks, that’s a winning combination. That’s what gets us excited about the future and what we can deliver for customers.
What are the key ways Dell Technologies is driving innovation?
When it comes to innovation, culture is everything. Yes, we heavily invest in R&D – approximately $4.5B annually – but it’s our approach to innovation, I think, that sets us apart. It is iterative. We don’t innovate for innovation sake. We focus our investments on technologies that will make the biggest difference for customers and society. Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and immersive computing like Augmented and Virtual Reality.
In a world where the cost of processing power is decreasing and every object is becoming smart – we’ll soon have 100 billion connected devices, approaching one trillion soon after that, IoT is one focus area where we’re betting big. In October 2017, we announced a $1 billion investment in IoT bringing together capabilities from Pivotal, VMware, Dell EMC, Storage and Server innovation, and Dell IoT gateways designed to enable IoT applications. Combine all that with what we’ll see made possible through the power of AI, we’ll accelerate automation, speed decision making and drive a new level of business innovation.
We are also very progressive when it comes to accessing and cultivating talent. We have a talent plan just like we have a business plan – and the needs of each business dictates our strategy.
At Pivotal, for example, the combination of technology and people gives customers what they need to accelerate the digital transformation. Pivots are what set Pivotal apart. Developers working together in open, inspiring workspaces around the world where they can teach and learn from each other, demonstrate empathy, trust, respect, communication, feedback, and collaboration at every turn.
At Dell and Dell EMC where location is less important, we approach work as an activity not a place. This mindset gives us flexibility to access the very best talent no matter where they live. Technology now makes it possible to work from almost anywhere — and we lead by example as we help our customers go through their own workforce transformations to create sustainable and innovative business models.
How does Dell Technologies continue to serve its customers in the face of dynamic change?
It’s all about anticipating the technology advancements, trends and market dynamics that will have the most meaningful impact on the way we work, live and do business and then partnering with customers like GE, Salesforce and millions more to ensure they have an IT strategy in place that helps them realize their digital future.
Take PCs. Whether processing power, bandwidth, storage capacity or display technology – everything improves 10X every five years. That means 15 years from now, we’ll have another 1000X the power, speed, efficiency and capacity we have today. Think of the possibilities this creates for end users. Combine what PCs will create with the immense data generated by those 1 trillion IoT devices, and it’s clear that having an infrastructure game plan that spans the edge, the data center and the cloud is critical. This is a huge undertaking for IT organizations and where we come in to help make digital and IT transformation possible.
Like helping companies think through their multi-cloud approach. Having a multi-cloud strategy is key to meeting business needs, but with it comes the risk of cloud siloes and the inability to fully exploit data analytics and AI initiatives. Where we see cloud going is the emergence of the ‘mega cloud,’ weaving together multiple private and public clouds that operate as a holistic system. To make this possible, we’ll need to create multi-cloud innovations in networking (to move data between clouds), storage (to place data in the right cloud), compute (to utilize the best processing and acceleration for the workloads), orchestration (to link networking, storage and compute together across clouds) and, as a new opportunity, customers will have to incorporate AI and ML to bring automation and insight to a new level from this next generation IT environment.
Living in a world of dynamic change is challenging, but it’s one reason I love what I do and is an attribute of the Dell culture our people love, too. And it’s why we are a trusted partner to our customers to help them make business sense of all this change. The companies that understand and embrace the changing way we work will be the leaders in IT and digital transformation. They will be the ones who unlock the power of their people; free up IT to manage change not technology; and invest in strategic priorities and innovate for the future. I’ve never been more optimistic about the future than I am today.