Dell’s Resurgence from the Eyes of an Acquired CEO
I joined Dell about a year ago in the most unusual way. Dell acquired a company I co-founded in 2003 called KACE. My engagement with Dell started with a LinkedIn invitation from Michael Dell and, today, I am on the front line fighting for what, I believe, will be the second coming of one of the world’s greatest business success stories.
Now a year into my journey with Dell, KACE has grown revenues by 147 percent and is on track to double its installed customer base this year. Moreover, I see growing evidence that Dell is on the right path overall to deliver surprising value for shareholders and customers. Here’s what I’ve learned about Dell and its prospects in the last year:
Dell is revolutionizing the technology value chain – again. For the last 26 years, Dell has made technology accessible for all through cost competitive hardware and mass-customized products. Today, Dell is growing its software portfolio and delivering solutions that offer a disruptive ROI for customers. That means more solutions like KACE that deliver more capabilities and more value for businesses and consumers than any other alternative. For Dell, The Power to do More is more than a tagline, it’s a philosophy.
- Smart Acquisitions
Dell recognizes that the value successful acquisitions can deliver is vast. By way of example, about 3 years ago, Dell acquired EqualLogic – a company with ~$100m in revenue. Last July, EqualLogic revenues reached the $1B mark in cumulative product sales since the acquisition over two years ago. The math is simple, acquisitions well-executed can yield enormous shareholder returns.
It’s easy to acquire companies on an on-going basis but it can be hard integrating them into larger organizations and driving customer and shareholder value. Speaking from my experience at KACE, Dell has the formula for successfully and repeatedly integrating new businesses. At the time of acquisition, KACE had a high competitive win rate and an award-winning product – yet no market reach. Dell has incredibly strong customer relationships, a leading product portfolio and a vast distribution network. A year later, KACE is three times larger and has nearly doubled its installed customer base.
Dell has one of the strongest competitive weapons of all – an incredibly talented workforce. At all levels, I’ve found the employee-base to be smart, energized and committed to Dell’s success and mission. Dell may well be the world’s biggest technology startup – it has the same type of energy that you’d expect to find only in Silicon Valley startup. From an organizational standpoint, there are seasoned leaders confidently managing very large businesses while significant resources – including Michael Dell himself – are focused bringing new innovation and breakthrough thinking to propel Dell’s next phase of growth.
- A World Class Brand
When I joined Dell, I knew it was a well respected company with substantial market share. I knew that Dell was a strong brand in technology. I didn’t know how strong.
During the last year I have visited with many customers and prospects and I’ve found very clearly that the market wants Dell to win and that customers trust Dell more than I thought possible. In many cases, we’ve seen sales cycles accelerate and customers buy KACE product because we’re part of Dell. With customers and market momentum on our side, I believe Dell’s core businesses will continue to grow and acquired companies and technologies will reach rapid acceptance in the market.
- Breakthrough Thinking and Innovation
Finally, I’ve been impressed with Dell’s renewed commitment to breakthrough thinking, risk taking and innovation. It’s not easy for big companies to embrace such concepts; however, if there’s been one constant theme since joining the company it has been a tops-down commitment to reinvigorating the entrepreneurial spirit and allowing breakthrough thinking to flourish in the organization.
That commitment has been what’s allowed a relatively small company like KACE to blaze new trails in terms of process, customer acquisition and marketing inside Dell. It’s the type of commitment that will allow Dell to capitalize on new market opportunities, plot disruptive acquisitions and solidify its growth trajectory.
When Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds radio drama unfolded over the airwaves in October of 1938 many unsuspecting listeners took the bait. For them the world was under attack and it was going change forever. Make no mistake; a new War of the Worlds is underway in the IT industry. This time it’s real and this time Dell is on offense. IBM, HP and others beware; Dell has “The Power to Do More” and the ability to deliver unprecedented value and experiences for our customers and shareholders. To find out more about KACE, click here or feel free to follow me on Twitter.