Optimism, working together and agility, the order of the day at Dell Technologies Forum 2020

Doug Woolley, Managing Director, Dell Technologies South Africa

What a year it has been! In many ways it has flashed before my eyes and in others it has taken an eternity. From getting our workforce mobile in a mere weekend to missing time spent with family and friends. I feel 2020 has been a year of contrasts, one of deep appreciation for family, friends, health and the opportunities for technology to be a major change agent shaping our ‘new normal’ on the one hand. On the other, a feeling of empathy for, and identification with, those who have experienced any kind of loss in this difficult time, and all of this, in the midst of a struggling economy.

Dell Technologies Forum took on a new format this year – a digital format – and while I missed the face to face interaction that previous events have had, I also know that this type of event was enabled through technology. Technology that has connected us as human beings during the past few months, whether it be for work or personal reasons.

The theme of the event was all about how, working together, we can achieve the change we would like to see in the world. It is optimistic and forward looking in that we do not want to look back at how things were, but rather forward to plan, act and help our customers succeed in a rapidly changing world.

More than just a theme for this year’s event, working together and being agile has become a formula for success in 2020 for me and so many others in the Tech Industry. How do we mobilise ourselves, our partners and our customers to rapidly respond to change, unforeseen change, and, in the face of it all, unprecedented opportunity? We are seeing the acceleration and arrival of the 4th Industrial Revolution and technology is at the coal face of it all. But how do organisations take a hold of their future with both hands?

The answer is by collaboration with the right partners, colleagues and role models. Looking forward, it is clear that organisations need to transform digitally in order to survive and, more importantly, thrive.

Our CEO and Chairman, Michael Dell’s, message was clear in opening the event when he emphasised how, nothing is certain – but through optimism and innovation, we can be ready for what’s next. He emphasised the importance of resilience and perseverance in the journey towards digital transformation and said that “technology has never been more central than it is right now”. He pointed out that through partnership and working together, Dell and its partners and customers could, together, build the essential infrastructure for the data era.

Dell Technologies’ President and Global CTO, John Roese, shared his keynote address titled “Accelerating your Digital Transformation”. John covered how things are going to change in our day to day work, our education system, logistics systems and retail, in fact every industry we know.

This was followed by Aongus Hegarty, President of International Markets at Dell Technologies who covered the recent Dell Technologies World announcement on how Dell Technologies has expanded its as-a-Service capabilities with Project APEX to simplify how customers and partners access Dell technology on-demand. This covered the ‘how?” of digital transformation.

Yes, we need to transform, but are businesses accelerating their digital transformation efforts in reality? The Dell Technologies 2020 Digital Transformation Index, a global benchmark of where businesses are, and how they are performing today, confirmed just this.  To quote but a few stats, of the 4300 surveyed organisations Eight in 10 have fast-tracked at least some digital transformation programs this year. Almost nine in 10 (89%) of respondents are proud of their team/organisation in the way that they’ve adapted their IT and business/operational strategy. And overall, of those surveyed, the vast majority, 89%, recognise that as a result of disruption this year, they need a more agile or scalable IT infrastructure to allow for contingencies.

Keeping with the theme of positivity and achieving the unthinkable we digressed slightly to one of my life long loves, rugby. With September 2020 marking a year since the Springboks won the world cup in Japan and Dell being the official IT supplier of the Springboks, I had the privilege to speak to World Cup winning Springbok player, Pieter-Steph du Toit. A quiet young man with an enormous presence of character, du Toit dreamt and prayed about being a Springbok from when he was a child. After winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup with South Africa, he was awarded the 2019 Men’s World Rugby Player of the Year as well as SA player of the year for the third time. Du Toit spoke about determination, perseverance, the importance of family and also the ability to adapt and change from a lock position to a flanker position – a theme that was echoed at this year’s Dell Technologies Forum.

With technology playing a role in facilitating success with the Springboks and indirectly nation building off the back of their success, the event then turned our focus, to one of Dell Technologies’ longest standing and most strategic Technology Partners, Intel. Nick Day from Intel and Karinne Brannigan from Dell Technologies spoke about the power of technology, working together and of course how all of this centres around the wise words of Robert Noyce, Intel’s co-founder, who once said “Go off and do something Wonderful”.

The Dell Technologies Forum then delivered 27 breakout sessions covering flexibility in IT, the digital workspace and finally innovating through data, offering all attendees a live session tailored to their current digital transformation needs.

Seeing 2020 come to a close is somewhat bitter sweet. I am amazed at what has been achieved by organisations despite terrible economic difficulty and what has been achieved was realised through collaboration and having a flexible technology-first approach. Here’s to 2021 and all the possibilities that it holds.

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