Do You Want to Go Boldly Where No One Has Gone Before?

Topics in this article

When you were a kid, did you ever stare up at the night sky, count the stars, and imagine what other planets were out there? I know I did. Back then, space exploration was government-funded and the very notion of travelling to outer space seemed incredibly cool and the stuff of a Trekkie’s dreams.   Can you imagine how it blows my mind now when I see companies like SpaceX, and how technology has privatized space travel and allowed us all to at least contemplate a trip to Mars in our lifetime?  Beam us up, Elon.

Technology – the Mother of Invention

Back on planet Earth, we have seen huge advances in surgery and diagnostic techniques with MRI scans, DNA testing, and keyhole surgery, all driven by technology. While many manufacturing jobs have moved out of the US to lower-cost locations, the labor dynamic is now changing with the advent of 3D printers, low-cost sensors, and the Internet of Things, allowing us to reimagine what US manufacturing might look like in the future.

Peer-to-peer file sharing technology, introduced to many of us by Napster in the early 2000’s, demonstrated the power and perils that peer-to-peer networking could have on the economics of the well-established music industry.  Now peer-to-peer payments via block chain, pioneered by Bitcoin, are poised to disrupt how we conduct the financial transactions of tomorrow, and the financial industry is just beginning to contemplate the impact that this technology might have on its future.  The list goes on – Uber has put the taxi and automotive industry on alert and Airbnb has shown that even old ideas of home sharing can take on new life with today’s sharing economy.  So many different industries have been transformed and enabled by the power of technology. As a result, this is making us all rethink how businesses are being managed and operated.

What Makes a Future-Maker?

Do you want to know what makes a company a market disruptor or as we like to call them, future-makers, so special? What approaches do they take? What traits do they have in common? Are there essential elements for success? According to McKinsey research[i], the five characteristics they typically share are as follows:

  • They challenge the status quo and question established norms. Like kids, they ask, “Why are we doing things this way?” because you can bet some unknown startup is asking the same question.
  • They innovate with speed. 12-month product release cycles are a relic of the past with a shift towards a cycle of continuous innovation. Let’s face it – the faster your organization can go from idea to implementation, the more it can embrace opportunities to transform and disrupt markets and beat the competition.
  • They’re relentlessly focused on improving the customer experience at every touch point. This is the unique differentiator, the edge that allows them to attract new business and keep customers coming back for more.
  • They can reduce complexity and scale rapidly and profitably. At the end of the day, it’s no good having a great idea, being able to innovate and being customer centric, if you’re unable to meet customer demand or lose money in the process.
  • They’re prepared to invest in technology and digital transformation. In fact, according to McKinsey, 49% of leading companies are investing in digital more than their counterparts do.

Where and How to Invest in Digital Transformation?

This argument for digital investment makes for compelling reading, but McKinsey makes the point that you need to know where and how to invest. Collaborating with a technology partner with the right expertise seems like an obvious solution. The business I work in – Dell OEM Solutions – was actually predicated on the whole premise of offering our customers flexibility in how they turn their great ideas into market-ready solutions and quickly take them to the world.

Allowing You to Focus on Future-Making

We do this by helping customers design a solution on the appropriate Dell technology platform, modify the system or systems to optimally run their IP, certify it to meet industry and regulatory standards, build it locally, ship it locally, or build it globally and ship it globally – based on their customer’s requirements. You enjoy access to a team of dedicated OEM engineers and project managers, a global supply chain, shipping and logistics expertise, award-winning support, and Tier 1 tried-and-tested architecture that can be customized to meet your business needs. Just like future-makers, we are focused on helping our customers innovate fast, build bold and differentiated solutions, and enable them to cost-effectively scale their operations rapidly.

Earning the Right to Stay Number 1

In fact, market research company, VDC recently confirmed that we’re the number 1 worldwide OEM provider.[ii] While it’s welcome news, we view it simply as an independent benchmark that indicates that we’re doing something right. Getting there was tough – it took us all of 18 years – but staying there will be even tougher. While our customers have made us number 1, we know that we have to earn the right to stay at that spot.

We Understand Change From the Inside Out

The reality is that we know all about change and re-invention from the inside out. We’ve been there, done that and continue to do it! When I joined Dell as a sales rookie back in 1998, we were a top player in PCs, working to enter the server market. Since then, we’ve embraced the internet, entered the services arena, launched a slew of products, acquired several companies to enhance our core expertise, became a private company, and merged with EMC to become Dell Technologies. The company I work with now is completely different to the one I joined. Would Dell be still here today if we had not been so willing to transform and remain relevant to our customers?

Agile Companies Will Prosper and Thrive

Remember Eastman Kodak who developed the first digital camera, but ignored its own brilliant innovation for fear of disrupting the company’s dominant camera film franchise? We all know what came next – the company filed for bankruptcy. Interestingly, the average lifespan of a company is also shrinking. Professor Richard Foster from Yale University says that the average lifespan of an S&P 500 index company has decreased 50 years in the last century, from an average of 67 years in the 1920’s to just about 15 years today. Time waits for no one. Those who innovate fastest will win.  Those who create the best customer experiences will prosper. And, those who reach global markets efficiently will thrive.

The world of today expects and rewards agility – we’re here to help you get there. I think Spock said it best, we want to see your business “live long and prosper!”  I welcome your questions and comments.

Keep in touch. Follow @DellOEM on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn OEM Showcase page.


[i] The Case for Digital Reinvention, Article McKinsey Quarterly February 2017:

[ii] OEM Global Share based on 2016 Dollar Volume Shipments, VDC Research

About the Author: Ethan Wood

Ethan Wood is the Vice President of the OEM Solutions marketing organization. He has also held leadership roles as the Director of Enterprise Marketing for North America, the Director of Dell’s Federal marketing group and as the Director of North America’s Field Marketing team. Previously, he worked for Dell in product marketing and technical sales roles, supporting Federal, Public Accounts, HCLS, and Global Fortune 1000 accounts. He has been involved in growing Dell’s Enterprise business from either a sales or marketing capacity throughout his twenty-two year career with Dell Technologies.
Topics in this article