0:00 [MUSIC PLAYING]
0:01 ANNOUNCER: Luminaries, talking to the brightest minds in tech.
0:05 MICHAEL DELL: We have always believed that if we built the right technology, we could amplify and enhance and enable human progress. And when I look at what lies ahead, I realize that we’ve really just barely begun.
0:23 ANNOUNCER: Your hosts are Mark Schaefer and Douglas Carr.
0:28 MARK SCHAEFER: Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Luminaries, where we talk to the brightest minds in tech. We’re talking transformation. Transformation of our technology, our businesses, and our lives. This is Mark Schaefer with my co-host Doug Carr. How are you, Doug?
0:45 DOUGLAS CARR: I am happy.
0:46 MARK SCHAEFER: You are happy?
0:47 DOUGLAS CARR: I have coffee in front of me.
0:48 MARK SCHAEFER: Oh, great. And we have something else in front of us, too. We have an amazing person, Mr. Liam Quinn. And I’m just so excited. We we’re actually doing this live. We’re facing each other at a conference here in Nevada. And so Liam is the Chief Technology Officer, a Senior Vice President, and a Senior Fellow of Dell Technologies. Liam has a responsibility to lead technology innovation across the client product groups and drive alignment across the Dell CTO organizations. In his current role, Liam’s also leading the technology and architecture strategy for the internet of things, IP development, and the interlock process of client architecture with enterprise, software, and services to deliver an end to end solution. And he holds more than 100 patents now. Liam, do you have like a trophy case for this, or do you just walk around and polish these things? Or what to you do?
1:54 LIAM QUINN: Mark, Mark, I don’t, but it’s one of these things that I plan to do when I retire.
2:01 So, you know, I have this vision of, like, yes, I’ve retired, my daughters are all grown up and moved out, and basically I get to where I can put it on a wall. And then I thought, well, that’s sort of self-serving. But I do want to get them and have them somewhere, maybe divide them out to the kids.
2:17 MARK SCHAEFER: That would be– that would be amazing.
2:18 LIAM QUINN: But they take up space, you know.
2:19 MARK SCHAEFER: It’d be amazing to have the trophy room to visit.
2:22 LIAM QUINN: So if I was in New England and I had a basement, you know, that would be a good place to put it. But you don’t want something where people come in and see all this stuff.
2:31 MARK SCHAEFER: Well, I mean, we’re kind of joking around. But this really leads to a serious question. I mean, a lot of people look up to you for this. You’re a serial innovator. You’re an inventor. And in this world of transformation, is this something that people are born with, or can you learn to do this?
2:55 LIAM QUINN: I think it was more of a learning, but I also think it’s more down to the individual of curiosity. I’m a very curious person, because when I was growing up in [INAUDIBLE], I got into IT initially as– I wanted to know how things worked. I grew up on the west coast of Ireland, and we had a wireless radio with a cell that you had to bring in every two weeks to get charged, right? And I was always fascinated, like, how sound could come out of something with no wires. Because when you’re a kid, you know, there’s– something is plugged in, and you turn the switch, and turn it on. But to have something that’s sitting there with an alkaline battery in there, with no wires, and yet there’s sound coming out, I was just fascinated by that. And that was my initial curiosity. And I’ve always had that sort of thirst for knowledge and understanding.
3:42 And believe me, I’ve broken a lot of radios for my uncle to bring back radios from the Philippines to my parents when I was a kid. And you know [INAUDIBLE] you see all the reactors there, where you could turn them. And I’d turn them and I’d turn back. But after awhile, you tend to turn one more, then you turn the other, so obviously without a tune. But that was my initial fascination of just IT, electronics. And then I got into more details of networking and so forth. I think to answer your question, Mark, specifically, it’s more of a curiosity and it’s like, how do you solve– or what would you do if you had magic for a moment to solve something?
4:21 MARK SCHAEFER: I love that.
4:23 LIAM QUINN: And that’s my approach and wherever I come up with ideas, like, I don’t know how to do this, or it’s an issue, how would magic be? And that magic becomes IP.
4:32 MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah.
4:33 LIAM QUINN: When you develop and think about it, and how is it unique and different?
4:37 MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah. That’s great.
4:38 LIAM QUINN: So it’s not like you start off trying to do all these things. It just evolves over time.
4:43 DOUGLAS CARR: You have such a wide breadth of knowledge, too. It’s not like you had patents just in one direction. So whether it’s mobile, internet of things, VR, or, you know, we have all these incredible technologies that are just erupting on us. I’m curious– I’ve heard some people worry about a breaking point. That– basically that the number of devices going online, and the data, and the volume, and the velocity of everything is– is going to surpass our capacity to utilize it. Do you have any of those fears? Or–
5:19 LIAM QUINN: About connectivity and device on the network?
5:22 DOUGLAS CARR: Yeah. Just that we’re having terra– I mean, the number of terabytes, the gigabytes, flops, whatever.
5:28 LIAM QUINN: But when you look– actually, things are very cyclical. When you look at networking, for example, ethernet started off at a megabit per second. And then it was 10x, 10 megabits per second. Then it’s 100. Fast ethernet, a gig, 10 gig. And now it can– you can get higher. And networks develop to those capacities based on end points coming online, data being generated, and the need for bigger pipes, almost like plumbing in the city. You need bigger central arteries or smaller tertiary arteries and so forth. It’s the same with network and it’s the same with devices. So will surpass the ability to manage those devices? No. We route from an IPv4 environment to an IPv6, which is 2 to the power of 128. So it’s trillions and trillions of unique device and addressability.
6:18 Networks have scaled currently on the wired side. You’ve seen on the wireless side it has scaled from 1G to 2G to 3G to 4G. Now we’re on the cusp of 5G, which it’s about every 10 years. In 10 years’ time, it’ll 6G and then 7G and so forth. So mobility will scale in order to take care of that. With those new storage mechanisms coming online, where now you have SSDs with capacity and access points far greater than any hard disks of the past, and more capacity and therefore more ability to store these things. So there’s a– the way you look at it is there is evolution and innovation happening in every sector of the IT space. So it’s not just like a– you know, it’s great processors and they’re getting faster and smaller. But all the other disciplines are accelerating equally, like storage, memory, Io, wired, wireless, graphics, front-of-screen.
7:14 LCD is going to all adds, foldable all adds down the road, and so forth. So all things are moving progressively. So I’m not concerned. It’s a journey, and we’ve been on this journey for the last number of decades and will continue to be so. But there are some interesting things that will happen as part of that too. So–
7:31 MARK SCHAEFER: Well, one of the things– one of the themes of our show is this idea of transformation– digital transformation, IT transformation. And when I go out and talk to a lot of companies– and I am so lucky in my role– I get to see a wide variety of companies, many different industries. And I get this impression. To them, transformation is bolting something on. It’s like bolting something on to some enterprise solution. But one of the things I know that you’re really studying a lot is internet of things. And to me, this is something new. This is just not a bolt on. This is a whole new way of thinking about business. Could you tell us a little bit about some of your thinking in that area?
8:11 LIAM QUINN: Right. So if you look at the PC industry– and, you know, Dell has been in business for 30 plus years– and we have gone from iWork to digital herein my career of VAX system. For biz there was about 8 to 10 modules of the size of 12 by 14 inch size that plugged into each slot. There was eight or 10 of those in a slot in a bay, and they had four bays. That was the VAX-11/780. Big machine, so, because of that, you had lots of ASICS, lots of silicon. Lots of feet, therefore big fans on the bottom– or power supplies on the bottom, fans on the top.
8:49 Well, fast forward. If you look at your phone right now, Doug, it’s a quad core processor that’s equal to or greater than all of that, in, now in the size of a phone. So if you fast forward 10 years, 20 years, what will be the power and capability of that processor today– that quad core– in 10, 15, 20 years? It’ll even be smaller, to the point where– technology is accelerating. Technology is getting smaller. It’s more integrated, it’s getting smarter, and it’s getting cheaper. That VAX in 1987 ’88, ’89 was a million dollars. That quad core processor right now is probably– I don’t know, make it up. $60. In 10 years’ time, will it be $6? Or $16? I don’t know, but again, that trend is going there.
9:37 Where I’m getting to is that the technology’s getting so small and so integrated and so lower on costs that we will see a lot more capability in things that are non IT. Going back to your question, Mark. That’s where internet of things this is happening. It’s really bringing the internet to the physical world. So this is a dumb table right now. In the future, it’ll be smart. The chair would be smart in the future. So it’ll know that there are people sitting here, therefore there’s occupancy here at this end of the hallway. Therefore, the access point will be intelligent enough to say, I need to put more power down here because there’s people here, versus, there’s nobody in these conference rooms because all the chairs are sensing that they’re all– not– nobody’s sitting in them. Therefore, I can switch that power capability from this side to the other side.
10:21 So IOT is the physical– it’s the evolution of physical devices into the internet world through the application of smart sensors and devices. So the fridge of tomorrow will be a smart fridge. The stove of tomorrow will be a smart stove. The car of tomorrow is even going to be smarter than the car today, which has got dozens, and dozens, and dozens of microprocessors. The TV is smart today, it’ll be smarter the next time. So things will be connected, which allows more blocks of data to be moved from these physical systems into an IT-based system. The challenge is the intersection of this OT the world with the IT world, and that’s where IOT sits in the middle.
11:08 With that comes a lot of new challenges from an IT point of view of managing these devices, securing these devices, accounting for these devices, integrating those devices into an IT world that we have known and loved for the last 30 plus years. And now we’re embracing– the lens just got wider. Right? So it’s exciting. So again, going back to the technology. Imagine being able to ingest nano technology, where it’s very small things that can go into your system and do an analysis of the inside of a human being based on what they’re seeing and so forth. So it’s a more predictive analysis of you as a human being, as a person based on all your vital signs and so forth. And therefore, maybe that’s connected to your doctor to say, hey Liam, maybe you don’t need this coffee. Certainly, you don’t need these cookies because I’m not seeing things in your liver or whatever.
12:04 That’s the world we’re moving to is in this connected world of vertical segments that are applying technologies for the good of human beings, and also for machines that can actually participate in that. So in other words, from a Dell perspective, one of the things that we’re very interested in is machine learning and analytics. So when you think of the tens of millions of devices that we ship on the client side annually, and also on the enterprise side, wouldn’t it be great if those machines and platforms and notebooks and workstations and so forth became more intelligent, such that it could say, hey, I’m not feeling good. I think I need to have my hard drive replaced in the next two months because of the use it’s getting, because of the physical abuse it’s getting, or because of the way it’s been handled and so forth. And it gives a predictive, preventative heads up to the IT or the owner of that system to say, here’s what’s wrong with me.
12:59 In other words, another one that we’re working on right now is the adaption of devices to the application that you run on it. So, for example, with Dell precision optimizer, we have now the ability for– with our optimizer suite on the precision to allow that device and that platform to adjust its hardware and software capabilities to run the application.
13:22 MARK SCHAEFER: Wow.
13:23 DOUGLAS CARR: Hm.
13:23 LIAM QUINN: Because if you have a notebook, Doug, and you have a notebook, Mark, and they’re all from Dell, and the same model, same build and so forth, it will run the same for you running Word as it would for you running Word. But it’s when that you’re running Excel and Mark is still running Word, it may need different capabilities to run Excel, because it’s more graphic intensive, than it would be for you to run Word, which is more static. The machines that we’re developing right now will have that ability to adjust dynamically in order to optimize your experience for what you’re doing today, to now, versus Mark, what you’re doing today, this minute.
14:00 MARK SCHAEFER: Mhm.
14:00 LIAM QUINN: And that’s where we actually see this transition into an intelligent world for devices, an integration of physical world into our IT world, and all of the exciting things that go along with that from security, manageability, connectivity, and so on, and so forth. So I think it’s– we’re at a great cusp right now in this market. We’re at a great point for Dell [INAUDIBLE] Dell technologies, given that now we have EMC. We have VMware, we have Pivotal, we have virtustream, RSA, Muzy, air watch, Dell client. You know, our stack of cards are pretty good. You know, so that you can go into a customer and gave a true Intuit solution.
14:45 Because if you go into a customer– let’s say it’s a big oil company, or an airline company, or banks, or whatever, smart buildings– you cannot go in and say, hey, I’ve got some sensors. I’m in the IOT business.
14:58 DOUGLAS CARR: Right.
14:59 LIAM QUINN: You got– so that’s only one little element.
15:01 DOUGLAS CARR: Right.
15:01 LIAM QUINN: A very small element. But Dell can say, not alone do we have the gateways, we have the analytics on the gateway, we have the connectivity, we’ve got the networking, we’ve got the cloud, we’ve got the storage, we’ve got the data center, we’ve got the services, we’ve got to go to markets. You know, it really is great to be on this team right now, given what we can deliver to customers based on their needs, because all of them are different needs.
15:24 DOUGLAS CARR: Incredible. On building efficiency, that efficiency is just absolutely startling. I just think about what you said with the chair.
15:31 [INTERPOSING VOICES]
15:32 I never even thought about a chair. Mine would be screaming right now, but that’s OK. So virtual reality. I wanted to touch base. You touched base about internet of things. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what are businesses missing when we’re talking about virtual reality, because a lot of businesses look at this as, you know, gaming, and, you know, Facebook, and social interaction. But what is the average business missing when it comes to virtual reality and what’s out there?
16:02 LIAM QUINN: I’m going to set the context of the virtual reality, which is the total immersive, immersed into your world, cut off from society, cut out from the outside world. There is the concept of augmented reality, which is putting digital content over a physical overlay. So if I’m looking at this decal on the wall, I can actually look at the bar code on there and it may show things on my augmented reality glasses that I wouldn’t see otherwise. And then you have this concept of merge reality, or mixed reality.
16:30 I think the net net is VR is great today, as being used widely in applications for gaming, and movie, and content consumption. That’s where Dell’s precision can be a great content generator. And our other platforms, like XPS and our high-end gaming can be used, as well as Inspiron can be used as consumption devices. So there’s the creation. We’ve got that covered. There’s a consumption, and we’ve got those covered with our VR certified platforms in our labs around the world.
17:07 I think the exciting one is AR. And when you think of, let’s say– and we’re working with a number of vertical segments right now– can you imagine in the medical sector, where you can get a 3-D rendition of an organ that the surgeon is operating on in suspended 3-D environment, so that if the patient’s lying there and they’re doing an ultrasound of an organ, and instead of the heart showing, like, on the screen as we’ve known it, that this software can create a 3-D version of the that, and then using augmented reality glasses and/or a screen– because by the way, surgeons don’t want anything on their head when they’re operating.
17:52 And you look through that screen you can actually see the heart floating. So if you were putting in a catheter in here, and you’re going up doing an analysis of the heart through probes, then you could actually see the heart like this. And you can actually see the probe that you’re pushing through in a real sense in a suspended way. In other ways, let’s say you had to do surgery on a patient. And you may want to take a sample of a liver, or sample of some other part of the body. Instead of opening that in general surgery, you may be able to pinpoint based on the [INAUDIBLE] 3-D of the organ exactly where to pin point and take that sample, which is a lot less invasive than surgery is today. So that’s one example.
18:35 Another one on augmented reality, where we find it very exciting, is in vertical segments like manufacturing.
18:41 MARK SCHAEFER: Hm.
18:42 LIAM QUINN: So where you do cable assembly.
18:43 MARK SCHAEFER: Hm.
18:44 LIAM QUINN: Right? And you look at it and see, OK, this is red cable, red cable, click. Yellow, yellow, click.
18:50 MARK SCHAEFER: Or maintenance.
18:50 LIAM QUINN: Or maintenance.
18:51 MARK SCHAEFER: Yeah.
18:51 LIAM QUINN: So a great example of this is, in the future, when you bring your car in to the garage to get it inspected, you know, you can put on– the technician will put on the glasses. The car, or maybe a self-driving car, will drive in, get hoisted up. And you look at the– you look at the car. You know what the analysis is, because the car has run diagnostics. The diagnostic database is connected to the augmented reality headset. It’s giving new invasive knowledge and intuitive visuals of what’s happening with the car. So it’s a shock, a shock absorber, tire’s running bald on one side, what’s causing that? So it helps diagnose what is wrong with a particular device, or an engine, or mechanical platform.
19:40 And then, once the technician actually goes to fix that, it can actually– you can drive the capability of the technician from a remote area, a remote technician, or the aging work force– by the way, the expert is on the other side of the world. So here’s the screwdriver you use. Here’s the wrench you use. Here’s how you adjust it, change the part out. And this is all connected. So now you have this cognitive capability, or mental reality. The billing is done. It notifies the office to say that he or she can– the car is ready, so it’s on the front port– it’s on the front port of the garage. The billing is done. The paperwork’s done. The maintenance is in the database.
20:17 So you can see the applications of AR in an environment like that, as you said, like maintenance. So think of, like, [INAUDIBLE] technicians. Think of nursing. Think of diagnostics. Think– there’s so many applications that can be used. And with technology, as we talked earlier about evolving over time, why can’t the glasses both of you are wearing, by the way, be not– they can be AR glasses in the future without this big, heavy headset, because battery technology is going to extend. You get [INAUDIBLE] full day’s battery life because of the kinetic energy on your head as you walk. You have small glasses for orient– or cameras for orientation.
21:00 When you’re talking, actually a small microphone is picking that up. There’s wireless built in, it’s connected to your phone or it’s connected directly to the internet. So you can see how all of this technology is starting to– continuing to evolve, which will allow us more and more integrated solutions. So people think of like, oh my goodness. You’ve got this VR headset it’s huge, it’s ugly, who’s going to ever adopt that. That’s today. What will it be in five years, versus 10 years. Just like the VAX was in the early ’90s, and now look at it today in your cell phone.
21:31 DOUGLAS CARR: Right.
21:31 MARK SCHAEFER: I’m going to change up the conversation a little bit, because when I looked at the description of what you do in your life, I just was so excited to ask you about this. So one of your roles is to drive alignment across all the Dell CTO organizations. That is just fascinating to me. How do you– it’s basically you’re placing the bets on what’s next. You’re placing the bets on where are we going to go. Just tell me about that process. How do you get these people to place the bets in the same place?
22:08 LIAM QUINN: Actually, it’s not me. I’ve got a great team, as it appears. I think [INAUDIBLE] was on here before. He’s a great guy, and he’s Irish, so that’s–
22:18 [INTERPOSING VOICES]
22:19 MARK SCHAEFER: Enough said.
22:20 DOUGLAS CARR: Is that the secret weapon?
22:21 LIAM QUINN: It is, in a way, because it comes down to relationships.
22:24 MARK SCHAEFER: Sure.
22:24 LIAM QUINN: And so I got the role for Jeff Clark’s client organization, which is a big part of the Dell Technologies. Ray has got the CTO for VMware. You’ve got John Roe [INAUDIBLE] for EMC. You’ve got Scott Yar for Pivotal and John Ramsey for Secure Works. We have formed a CTO advisory council, where we meet on a regular basis– quarterly, but now we’re going to increase the frequency of that– to look at areas of cross-Dell technology intersections, such as security, manageability, IOT, and a number of other areas. We’re we’re not working inside of– we’re saying, you know what, we need to get outside of our current domain and ensure that we’re driving an end-to-end approach and strategy across the company.
23:12 It’s both rewarding and challenging, because it’ll expose you to other parts of the business. And you’ve got to understand their side of the business on the technologies as well as the business side, and conversely, they have to do it in our [INAUDIBLE]. So it drives a lot of synergies, it drives a lot of collaboration, it drives a lot of ironing out of small, footsie things that could get in the way. We’re not where we need to be. It’s a journey. We’ll get there. We’re going to accelerate it more this year. I think we’re in a good position, given where we– we just started back in September. But obviously, we want to drive a lot more of that end-to-end mentality and thinking.
23:50 DOUGLAS CARR: And as you’re driving that, I’m curious about the sociology of disruption there. You know, the human aspect of it. And that’s– how are you simultaneously getting these units and empowering them to push forward with that change? How do you enable that?
24:09 LIAM QUINN: Well, I think– I think we’re blessed. We have got great leadership, starting with Michael and his ELT. And they’re very focused, so there’s no ambiguity where Michael is going. There is certainly no ambiguity of where the ELT is going working for Michael. And there’s no ambiguity for what we are working for ELT leaders. So that makes our job easier. So there’s very little time to waste on kindergarten behavior, or high school behavior. So we don’t have that. Inside the client organization, we’ve known each other for the last number of years. A lot have been there quite a while, which, again, goes back to relationships.
24:45 You earn respect. You develop relationships, and that’s always a positive. And we’re doing that as well across the other parts of Dell Technologies, number one. Number two, there’s always been this maniacal focus on customer first. So it’s ready to say, this is what I’m doing based on my approach– or our approach– not my, our approach to a customer issue or customer solution. And a great mentor one time, when he was at Dell was Dean Shuckenbrock. And he says, you always approach things from a customer-centric point of view. And if you do that, you’ll never get personal with people around you. Because– I’m doing this because this is what’s good for the customer. This is the right technology, this is the right proposal, this is the right [INAUDIBLE] and so forth.
25:27 And approaching that drives that maniacal focus on where we want to go. And it brings– all of the other things become a follow through, versus, I’m doing it because I want to get my idea ahead of the next person’s idea.
25:43 DOUGLAS CARR: Right.
25:43 LIAM QUINN: Or whatever. And it was an absolute pivotal moment for me years and years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it, so I think that’s important.
25:51 MARK SCHAEFER: We’ve covered so much ground today. And I just feel like we got started, but I think I’d like to end by asking you– we’ve talked about IoT, and virtual reality, and augmented reality. What’s the one technology that’s just getting you so excited? You just can’t wait to see how the world’s going to unfold in the next couple of years. What’s the one, oh wow, for you?
26:19 LIAM QUINN: Um, the one I think is very interesting is health. When you think of the advancement we’ve had in the technology sector for decades, and where we’re still challenged with some fundamental health diseases, and so forth that haven’t been solved. And imagine the application of technology in the right, positive way, into an environment like that to solve health issues like diabetes, or cancer, or Alzheimer’s, and so forth, or dementia, where it strikes people at a younger and younger age. And wouldn’t that be great if technology were a great solver of some of those issues based on our capabilities today to, maybe, have nanoparticles ingested. Analytics of data, genome sequencing, and where you could have personalized medicine. Because my genome is obviously different than yours, that is different from Douglas’. So then I could have personalized medicine for my needs, based on my composition, versus all of us. And I think that’s one that I personally feel very excited about.
27:35 [INTERPOSING VOICES]
27:35 It’s good for the– it’s good for humankind, it’s good for life.
27:41 MARK SCHAEFER: Well, Liam, this has been such a delight talking to you. You’ve really just inspired me, energized both of us– I’ll speak to Doug.
27:49 DOUGLAS CARR: I’ll have to think about it.
27:51 MARK SCHAEFER: And unfortunately, we’ve got to bring it to a close. So everyone, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you, Liam Quinn, CTO Senior Vice President, Senior Fellow. And on behalf of Doug Carr, this is Mark Schaefer and Luminaries. We’ll see you next time.
28:09 LIAM QUINN: Thank you.
28:10 ANNOUNCER: Luminaries, talking to the brightest minds in tech. A podcast series from Dell Technologies.
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