How Simplicity and Focus Create a Winning Strategy

In my 30+ years at Dell, I’ve had an opportunity to see virtually every element of product design, ideation and innovation come together.  I’ve seen some of the best products and concepts…and of course, there’s been a few dogs – but that’s what innovation is all about – taking risks and being bold.  Some of the most amazing inventions are born from big ideas and rolling the dice – you have to be fearless, believe and make it happen.

light bulb in front of a wood grain background

So as I consider what fuels innovation, more often than not, I come back to these five key pillars that, in my experience, deliver world-class products and innovation.


Always start with the customer – what they need to deliver and meet their requirements and demands. The customer has been at the very core of Dell since its inception and today remains at the heart of our culture.  Innovation is only as amazing as it is useful…features and functionality need to deliver a benefit – whether it’s improving the user experience, driving productivity or achieving better business outcomes.

Innovation with the customer in mind – a true purpose – will also ensure you’re only bringing to market the best possible technologies and solutions.  Quality of innovation is critical, and as the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression – it simply has to work and work well.  It has to move the needle for your customer.


Customers want simplicity in the products and services they invest in, particularly as their IT universe expands in scope with increasing demands on their infrastructure (Cloud, SaaS, analytics, security – the list is long) and on their resources.  IT is now a part of the very fabric of modern business – so IT solutions have to be easy to purchase, integrate and use.  When there are too many products in a portfolio that overlap – that’s where the confusion lies.

We at Dell are working hard to ensure our customers have the BEST set of products across our broad portfolio that all work together, seamlessly integrate and achieve their business objectives.   And when we simplify – everybody wins…there is more time spent on innovation internally, which leads to better, faster products that get to market even faster for our customers.


We ask ourselves everyday “why should a customer buy from Dell Technologies?”  The answer? Well, there are a few.  First – we are focused on driving value through differentiated products that set us apart from the competition – an incredible by-product of simplifying our processes and our portfolio.  We do this across our CSG and ISG businesses, and apply this thinking to our supply chain.

Case in point: our end-to-end NVMe in PowerMax with a multi-controller architecture that ensures our customers get the best performance and speed in our new Enterprise storage solution1.  Further, we innovate based on industry-standard, enabling a quicker path to Storage Class Memory, and allows us to leverage the full scale of Dell’s supply chain.

And, we do this across our portfolio, ensuring that storage along with our servers, data protection, cloud and networking offerings are NVMe and NVMe-over-fabrics ready for a true holistic Modern Data Center solution.

Second – no other company in the world can advance innovation for a holistic end-to-end IT infrastructure the way that we can with the full weight of the Dell Technologies family.  We can take advantage of each other’s strengths to deliver the best solutions the market has to offer – like delivering VxRail on VSAN, and Data Domain on VMware running on AWS for a hybrid-cloud solution.

Bold-Yet-Calculated Risks

I mentioned earlier that risks are important in innovation – but those risks need to be informed and really solid educated guesses on what’s going to be a success.  And they need to be fostered by the deep belief that it’s OK to break out of mold and think differently to solve a challenge.  In fact, it’s break the mold or die in today’s fast moving industry.

We as a leader in hardware have fully-embraced, if not tackled, the software-defined evolution – systems need to be agile, flexible and cloud-like to deliver all the advantages of today’s emerging capabilities born from data, AI and Machine Learning.  And we’re innovating to ensure our customers can manage and analyze data insights in the cloud as a service through CloudIQ.

Bold moves also need to be driven by data and insights.  And in a world that is digitally transforming with the massive amounts of data hitting our systems every day, there’s never been a better time for innovation.

Get input from customers, analyze data, listen to influencers and industry peers…and because I’m a numbers guy I’ll tell you that numbers don’t lie.  Data is power.  We harness it through our infrastructure solutions to drive better business outcomes for our customers – and we use it to improve our own products and solutions by integrating intelligent automation and machine learning across our portfolio.

For example – the PowerMax operating system makes six billion decisions a day2 on where and how to store massive amounts of data – all built on the insights and data we’ve accumulated in our 30+ years of being a leader in storage.  And we’re using AI in our ProSupport Plus3 service offering to predict failures4 and proactively service our products and reduce downtime.  And all of this data leads to new insights and even more innovation – it’s an amazing cycle of feedback that is changing the way we design and deliver products, and even in how we do business.


Focus is incredibly important – it’s the foundation for innovation and overall, leadership in your industry.

You have to remain focused on customers and what they need to be successful – that’s what we do. There’s a lot of mud-slinging and FUD when it comes to comparing portfolios and strategy.  Some think that’s part of the game…FUDders gonna FUD – but we don’t play that game and it’s not what we do.  We know that a commitment to focus drives great results – and improving growth in our markets just happens to be a great key performance indicator.  Customers are telling us they believe in what we do.

Remember when I said the numbers don’t lie? Well a few numbers I’m really excited about right now are those released by IDC demonstrating that in our Storage business, we gained 5.8 percentage points of share year-over-year (YoY) in the first calendar quarter of 2018.  That’s a really big deal.  

AND, we’re proud that Dell EMC is the undisputed leader in x86 servers in the world for both revenue and units, according to IDC.

Combine that with 21 consecutive quarters of growth in our PC business, our #1 position in CI and HCI solutions, Workstations, Displays5, 6, 7 – and you’ve got a winning end-to-end portfolio that is driven by the aforementioned pillars for innovation success.

I am so incredibly proud of what we’ve built here at Dell Technologies – we continue to come from a position of strength, and we’re only getting stronger through a team committed to our customers and committed to innovation.  And with the technology and macro global trends in front of us, it’s never been a better time to seize the innovation opportunity at hand.  And that’s what we’ll go do all day every day.

[1] 3x Better Performance Density based on Dell EMC internal analysis comparing maximum I/Os per floor tile of the PowerMax 8000 against the VMAX 950F. Fastest Storage Array based on Dell EMC internal analysis of published bandwidth of the PowerMax 8000 versus competitive mainstream arrays, March 2018. Actual performance will vary.

2 Based on Dell EMC internal analysis of a single PowerMax 2000 or 8000 array, March 2018.

3 Dell ProSupport Plus availability and terms vary by region.  See

4 Predictive analysis failure detection is limited to hard drives and batteries.

5 IDC WW Quarterly Converged Systems Tracker, Q4 2017, April 2018, Vendor Revenue.

6 IDC Worldwide PC Monitor Tracker – 4Q 2017.

7IDC WW Quarterly Workstation Tracker, Q4 2017, February 2018

Jeff Clark

About the Author: Jeff Clarke

In partnership with CEO and Chairman Michael Dell, Jeff is responsible for running day-to-day business operations, shaping the company’s strategic agenda and aligning priorities across the Dell Technologies executive leadership team. Jeff oversees the company’s operations, including its global manufacturing, procurement and supply chain activities. In fact, Dell Technologies’ supply chain is recognized among the world’s most innovative and continues to receive accolades for its achievements in closed-loop recycling and sustainable product development. Additionally, Jeff oversees the engineering, design, development and sales of the Infrastructure Solutions Group across servers, storage, data protection and networking products. He also oversees the engineering, design, development and sales of the Client Solutions Group, including computer desktops, notebooks, workstations, cloud client computing and end-user computing software solutions. Jeff joined Dell Technologies in 1987 as a quality engineer, moved into a product development role in 1989 and since has served in a variety of engineering and leadership roles. Jeff founded and launched Dell Technologies Precision workstation product line, and subsequently oversaw Dell Technologies OptiPlex, Latitude and Precision commercial PC lines of business. Under his leadership, all three businesses achieved No. 1 worldwide share positions. Prior to joining Dell Technologies, Jeff served as a reliability and product engineer at Motorola, Inc. He serves on the College of Engineering Advisory Council for his alma mater, the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1986.