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Customers are looking for partners, not suppliers: Alok Ohrie

Vjmedia Works | November 17, 2014

Interview with President & MD, Dell India

There is no point in splitting the industry into PC and non-PC, or enterprise and consumer. The customer needs a solution, and solutions comprise the entire stack, Alok Ohrie tells Devina Joshi

Dell has undergone significant transformation over the last few years, including privatisation last year. How has this affected Dell's market standing/reputation?

For 30 years, Dell has played a critical role in transforming computing, enabling more affordable, pervasive access to technology around the world. In recent years, Dell has emerged as a new company, establishing a strong portfolio of products and services - we have acquired significant new skills, reorganised our backend operations and optimised our supply chain.

IT today is at the cusp of a massive revolution because of market forces in the IT space like cloud, social, mobility, analytics and security.
These are changing the way customers are consuming IT, both in their personal lives as well as in the business environment. This forces a lot of IT companies to do things differently. From that perspective our transformation journey which started a couple of years back, has seen a huge amount of benefit coming in because of privatisation.We believe that privatisation will build on the momentum we have gained over the last few years. It has made Dell faster and nimble in its approach to bring in new technologies.

We have defined five priorities for the new Dell: enhancing end-to-end capabilities by investing in R&D, improvement in our market coverage, expanding our presence in emerging markets, focusing on 'cloud client computing' in tablets and PCs, and lastly, simplifying our back-end systems to enhance customer engagements. The underlying theme here is the focus on customers. In many ways, we are moving towards being a much more stable company.

Where do you see Dell India fit in within the Dell Inc scheme of things?


India is amongst the top five markets for Dell globally. There are two main strategic areas: first, from a domestic perspective, we are very aligned to contributing to the Indian customer in his journey to create future-ready infrastructure - from legacy environments to open environments through which he can ultimately transition to the cloud. We are doing everything with regards to how we cover the market in terms of technology solutions, services and beneficial customer engagements.

Second, we are looking at it from a presence point of view: Dell India has 27,000 employees, which is the second highest workforce of Dell globally (outside the US). Dell India's R&D set-up is probably the biggest outside the US. Business growth has been phenomenal in the last six to seven quarters. There has been a large acceptance of our strategies by customers and partners, and that is visible in the numbers: in the first half CY2014, we have seen a market share growth ranging from 2.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent.

A dominating personal computing player at one point, Dell is now focusing on end-to-end enterprise IT solutions. What has prompted this shift? Better margins? More scope for growth? Or is it stagnation in the personal computing space?

Despite the launch of new form factors, the PC is still a very attractive market and continues to be at the core of our end-to-end solutions strategy. Having said that, customers are looking for solutions to solve their business problems and in the process also create a business model that can give them a competitive edge. Today it is possible because of SMAC (social, mobility, analytics, cloud) solutions which are opening up newer opportunities.

Dell wants to be a consultant and provide customers with a roadmap to help them deploy these solutions. There is no point in splitting the industry into PC and non-PC, or enterprise and consumer. The customer needs a solution, and solutions comprise the entire stack.
There are perceptions that Dell as a company is slow to respond to market changes. Your thoughts…

On the perception: I would disagree. Reality is very different from perception. Based on customer feedback at our annual conferences, I can safely say that Dell is seen as a company associated with words like 'speed', 'very responsive', 'flexible' etc. We are aligned to new-age IT requirements. I can say we are the biggest disrupter in the IT industry. This is because we believe in open environments and open source technologies. We don't have any legacy to worry about. That brings in a lot of boldness and creativity within Dell.

The competition in the cloud solutions space is getting intense globally. How do you plan to popularise this technology which is still largely underpenetrated in India?


We are very strong in the cloud space. There are three core areas for cloud as you know: public, private and hybrid. We have solutions for all the three and in most of the conversations we are having with our customers about cloud, we are providing them with a blueprint, advisory services to help them define what the end state will be from a cloud point of view and then in the process, we define a roadmap on how they should go about in a phased manner.

What does Dell now wish to be best known for if you were to narrow down the focus?

We want to be known as the leading provider of end-to-end scalable solutions. We are aiming at thought leadership and being relevant in the market in the midst of a changing IT environment. This will only come with innovation in both the marketplace and in the people. Our marketplace innovation journey started in India about three quarters ago. Dell India's new go-to-market business model aims to maximise customer coverage across the country and deepen engagement. Under the 'New Dell', customers have benefited from Dell's products and solutions, including small and mid-size companies, large conglomerates and organisations in the government sector.

TECHNOLOGY STEWARD

  • Ohrie has over 25 years' experience in the IT industry, and his expertise lies in the enterprise segment. At Dell India, Ohrie assumed the role of Managing Director in April 2013 and the additional responsibility of President since June 2013
  • He has worked for IBM in India, South Asia and Australia for about 13 years, prior to which he has also worked with Wipro, AMD and EMC India
  • Ohrie holds a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communication from the National Institute of Technology (formerly REC), Suratkhal (Karnataka)
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