Episode 8: Untethered Mixed Reality… On the Edge

The future of work is flexible, untethered and peppered with virtual and mixed reality. Much of the compute is happening on the Edge, meaning on the device you work on. How will you work in the future?
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Equipping the Workforce of the Future with the Right Connected Devices

“People care about the technology and tools in their workplace more than any other perks.” Sam Burd, who leads Dell’s Client Solutions Group, takes the research behind this statement very seriously and, as an 18 year veteran at Dell, knows that constant innovation, research and disruption is indispensable when working in IT. Putting the smartest devices into the hands of the workforce is not only beneficial in the context of vying for the best talent, but also from the perspective of having the most creative, motivated and productive workforce. Sam believes that the opportunity that exists on the edge with technology to build great devices is greater than ever, but also more complex than it has ever been. Listen to Sam’s conversation with Mark Schaefer and Doug Karr where virtual and mixed reality as well as the demands of the workforce of the future are hot topics.

Featuring: Sam Burd, President of Dell’s Client Solutions Group

Sam Burd is President of Dell’s Client Solutions Group. In this role, he leads global design, development, engineering, marketing, sales and overall innovation efforts for Dell’s laptops, computer desktops, workstations, cloud client computing, end-user computing software, PC displays and accessories. Sam previously served as Dell’s President of Client Product Group where he was responsible for design, product development and engineering of Dell’s consumer and commercial PC business and end-user computing software. Sam holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College.

“Work used to be a place you go, it’s now something you do. That puts high demand on IT.”

— Sam Burd, President, Client Solutions Group, Dell

Luminaries Hosts

  • Mark Schaefer Author, Consultant, College Educator. Mark is a leading authority on marketing strategy, consultant, blogger, podcaster, and the author of six best-selling books, including "KNOWN." He has two advanced degrees and studied under Peter Drucker in graduate school. Some of his clients include Microsoft, GE, Johnson & Johnson and the US Air Force
  • Douglas Karr Technologist, Author, Speaker. Pre-Internet, Douglas started his career as a Naval electrician before going to work for the newspaper industry. His ability to translate business needs into technology during the advent of the Internet paved the way for his digital career. Douglas owns an Indianapolis agency, runs a MarTech publication, is a book author, and speaks internationally on digital marketing, technology, and media.

0:01 NARRATOR: 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 NARRATOR: Your hosts are Mark Schaefer and Douglas KARR.

0:30 MARK SCHAEFER: Welcome everyone, to another episode of Luminaries where we talk to the brightest minds in tech. This is Mark Schaefer. I am the executive director of Shaefer Marketing Solutions. I’m also a faculty member at Rutgers University. And I’m here, as always, with my vivacious co-host, Douglas Karr. How are you, Doug?

0:55 DOUGLAS KARR: I am vivacious today just as you predicted.

0:58 MARK SCHAEFER: Just as I predicted. It’s amazing. We’re like 2000 miles apart from each other, but I just knew it. I just knew it. And it’s awesome to be connected with you again because we’ve recorded like a batch of episodes of Luminaries, but it’s been a while since we’ve done one of these. And it’s really exciting to kind of get back in the saddle here.


1:22 MARK SCHAEFER: And you know, Doug, when people think of the greatest minds in tech, they probably don’t think of us. But they do think of our guest, who is one of the most amazing men in tech today, Sam Byrd. Sam is the president of client solutions group at Dell. Sam, welcome to Luminaries.

1:48 SAM BURD: Thank you very much, Mark. Excited to be here with you and Doug.

1:51 MARK SCHAEFER: It’s just awesome that we get to spend some time with you today. Sam, you have such an impressive background, and it’s rather intimidating. Could you give us a little bit of background on how you got to where you are today? Tell us a little bit about your career path and what you do today.

2:15 SAM BURD: Sure, Mark. So I’ve been at Dell for now about 18 years. Started at Dell because I had a real passion around technology, the business of how we enable people with great technology, and an interest in the innovation and great things that were happening at Dell at that point. I started my career at a consulting firm Bain & Company. Before that, I spent a lot of time across a whole bunch of different industries, but really found a huge pull for technology and a huge pull for companies that liked to innovate, liked to listen to their customers and drive change.

2:53 And that was the kind of place Dell was 18 years ago. And it’s the place we are today as a huge company spanning a lot of different technology that our customers put in use. All the way from Edge devices– where I lead our client product group which really puts PCs together– to things we do in the data center, things we do with software networking to enable the enterprise. I’ve had a number of different jobs across the time that I’ve been at Dell. I’m based in Austin, Texas right now which is a pretty awesome city, live music capital of the world.

3:30 MARK SCHAEFER: It really is one of my favorite towns.

3:32 SAM BURD: Yeah, great place for technology. It’s a really nice place to do stuff outside as well, which I enjoy doing on the weekends and doing stuff with the family. It’s also a great place for– you think about technology and the businesses here and the innovation in town. It’s pretty awesome.

3:50 I’ve gotten excited about the opportunity we have on the Edge with technology to really do great devices that have made people very excited to be Dell customers. I also enjoy working with engineering, with our product development teams, with our customers to try to figure out what the intersection is of technology that we’re developing. And with our R&D resources, that partners are developing. And understanding what customers need and putting all that together into great products that when they show up six, 12, 18 months later on, really nail what customers are looking for.

4:30 I think it’s a great challenge. It’s one you don’t always get right. But when you do that right, it’s really exciting to launch those products, to have conversations with customers and see them making a difference in their business or industry with the products that we’ve put together.

4:44 MARK SCHAEFER: It’s just such an amazing opportunity to get to pick your brain a little bit today. I can’t even imagine the fun you have with the resources that you have at your disposal. And one of the things I know that you’re passionate about, Sam, is this true integration of technology and the workforce. I know this is something that you work on very closely at Dell.

5:11 I do consulting with some very big companies, and I see them really struggling in this space. They’re struggling to integrate technology with the workplace demands for remote workers, remote collaboration, and the culture needed to pull that off. We see in research– some of the research that Dell has done– that employees desire more opportunities to work remotely.

5:40 And what I’m seeing is that some companies are going in the opposite direction. And these are some pretty high-profile companies we’ve seen in the news. They’re actually saying, we want you to come back to work. Where do you start with this integrating technology and this work force of the future?

6:01 SAM BURD: Yeah, it’s a really good question, Mark. And as I sit and talk to companies, CIOs, people in some of the lines of businesses at different companies that are struggling with this, we see a key role for technology in how the workforce is going to operate in the future. And it’s often at the core, some of the problems that they’re wrestling with, as you talked about, teaming collaboration– really important. As people think about their environment, they want to have a kind of culture and approach that encourages that, but we’re also seeing, if I look at a trend, I really see a huge desire to balance that teaming and collaboration or really get it working in conjunction with flexibility. And that’s something that you think about employees– people in the workforce today– they find is extremely important.

6:54 Like you talked about, when we go and look at how people are working today, many companies– there are a couple notable examples– where people have called people back to their office, or called their employees back to the office and bringing them in more. But if you look at the balance of people I talk to, more than not believe that employees are a lot more productive when they work the way that they want, and they work outside the office. And they balance that with time in the office. So we really see a key in the technology we’re putting together is how we make that work for the way people want to work today, and the way they’re going to work in the future.

7:35 If you think about it, work used to be a place you go. It’s now really something you do. The demands then on IT are pretty enormous. Because the CIOs I talk to, they’re struggling with how do I make this work any time, work any place. I want access to my stuff really simply. I want it to work all the time. How do they make that work? How do they make less office space work? You think about the office space today versus 10 years ago– about 60% smaller. So you’re trying to be as productive, do all the kind of teaming collaboration you get when someone’s in the office. Plus, they want to connect from home.

8:11 All that says it’s a challenging environment today. And technology on the Edge is probably more complicated than it’s ever been. And probably more important than it’s ever been to get people productive, engaged, doing the things to move your business, your opportunity forward.

8:32 DOUGLAS KARR: And Sam, you’ve lived and worked all over the world. How do you see this workplace of the future? How do you see these ideas being adopted in other parts of the world? Anything inspiring you from your travels?

8:44 SAM BURD: Yeah, there’s a lot of interesting conversation on this everywhere around the world. I saw it first in the US, but I would say, Is I go look at it, I spent a lot of time in Asia. I see companies and industries there very aggressively thinking about how people want to work today, thinking about how they need to change. There is a consistent– and sometimes even more passionate– desire to innovate, to disrupt industries that have been done in traditional ways.

9:18 And in some of these countries you look, people are coming with a pretty blank slate. And companies are coming into this without 20, 30, 50 years of the way things were done. And they’re willing to try new ways of approaching problems. They’re willing to invest in different types of technology that makes it pretty exciting from my perspective. Because these are the disruptors and the changers of industry. And some of these fast-growing economies are the most aggressive in the world and come with kind of none of these preconceived dispositions for how they’re going to work.

9:57 We talk about and have done some research around how millennials are changing the perceptions and the way people work today. But if you think about where millennials are, there’s millennials in the US in Austin, Texas where I’m sitting. But more of the global population of millennials is sitting outside the US than is sitting inside the US. And about 60% of them are in Asia. So countries like China, India, Indonesia– large millennial population– probably the places where I see the most creativity around IT and how technology is being deployed.

10:35 And those millennials, whether they’re in the US, in Asia, in some of these other parts of the world, you think about the requirements they have. And they’re really pressing on how technology gets integrated into the workforce. So almost half of them say their workforce isn’t smart enough.

10:53 So you think about the technology you have available at home, and maybe it’s a little unfair– I always think– to the CIO. Because there’s things you have to do to secure data. There’s things you have to do on access to data that’s far more complicated than most of the average homes out there. But people are going, my workplace isn’t smart enough. Over 80% of them say technology influences the job they take. Over 40% of them say they’d quit a job if they had poor technology.

11:21 So this heightened interest on the technology, the PCs, the solutions IT is putting people’s hands really matter when you think about this war for the best global talent. If you don’t have a workspace where you are investing and putting the great tools in people’s hands, you’re not going to attract the great talent. You’re not going to be the disruptor. You’re going to be kind of the laggard in the industry trying to figure out what happened to you.

11:48 So the thing I see everywhere is people care about technology and tools more than they ever have. In some of our research, it was also really interesting because we asked how important that technology and tools was relative to other workplace perks. And we kind of figured, you know, it’s nice. The weather’s pretty good here. It’s nice to have like a basketball court outside, foosball table, drinks, sparkling water in the refrigerator.

12:15 But when we did all the research, it actually came back. It was surprising to us. Maybe good for us because we’re in the right business then. But people cared about the technology and tools that they had more than all those workplace perks, which just said, well, millennials may be driving a little bit of a different dialogue.

12:32 There’s a common theme of people want to do the right thing in their career. They want to help their company be successful. They want to be a part of that. So arm them with the right tools, and they’re going to go do a great job. And that matters more than having a nice break at lunch and being able to walk outside in the sunshine.

12:54 MARK SCHAEFER: Sam, I would have picked Skittles.

12:58 SAM BURD: So you’re a sucker for Skittles, huh?

13:01 MARK SCHAEFER: You had me at Skittles. If you had Skittles in the work room, I would be like a loyal employee for life. But I know it’s a little more competitive than that.

13:11 SAM BURD: Yeah, my kids are almost the same way. I bought Halloween candy in advance this weekend. And after they’d eaten about half the candy, they were like, hey, dad, was this for Halloween? But they’re going to be loyal kids just because I put some candy out there for them.

13:28 MARK SCHAEFER: I loved your answer because I see this surge from all around the world too. And one of the things going on in India of course is that the cost of internet access has been going down, down, down, down, down. And that’s just been bringing people on. The social media and remote working is just exploding in India right now. So I really love that answer.

13:55 I want to pivot a little bit here and start talking about all the cool new stuff that you’re working on. I know that Dell is really getting into a lot of the VR/AR stuff. I know you are one of the leaders on the gaming side. But I want to talk about this in terms of using this in the work force. I know that these headsets could someday replace phones, computers, a lot of these smart devices they have. It could even replace, arguably, television and movies for that matter.

14:42 But in the workplace, do you foresee a day where people are going to be working with a headset on? Or is it going to be more like Minority Report where we got like screens everywhere we go, and we just touch things and move things in the air? What’s your vision? What’s the Dell view of what the ultimate internet world will look like?

15:08 SAM BURD: So Mark, I’d say to your question Minority Report was a really great movie, by the way. So do I like Minority Report? Absolutely. Do I see a day with head-mounted displays and devices that we wear? Absolutely.

15:26 What we look at and what I see as we look into the future is there is an underlying desire that people want to do the things the way they want to do them. And we talk about this is moving to a world that has and enables natural interaction with devices. So make things effortless, make it the way you want to interact, make it untethered, unhindered. So you can think about lots of changes that are going to take place from screens being around you, devices that you will wear on your head enable you, in the end, to get to the data that you have so that it’s all about the access to your data and doing that in a really secure way. And we see steps toward that world happening today.

16:14 We see the end solutions probably going to vary based on what job and what role you’re in. Like there are times when you want to be in that Minority Report control room with lots of screens around you. There are other times when you may be out on a manufacturing plant doing a repair to some kind of airplane, a vehicle. And you need to figure out exactly what it looks like, and you want to learn that really quickly. So there is right times are right places for each of those technologies.

16:46 We’re seeing some steps towards that if you look today. We launched earlier this year a product called Dell Canvas, which if you think about a movement towards a Minority Report kind of world, it takes two different displays. There’s a C display in front of you. It basically digitizes your workplace and your desktop. So think about all that information that you might have there, piles from different projects. Sketchboard puts that in a digital format so you can go and work in your environment.

17:19 And we’ve worked with many of the companies that are doing some of the professional design applications and allowed them to turn those workflows into an all-digital experience that equals more productivity, better way of interacting by putting this more glass around you. It’s pretty neat because you start thinking about pen, inking, keyboard, mouse, voice– all these natural ways of interacting with a device– starting to come to the surface.

17:47 We have another system when you think about doing stuff in a natural way. It’s one of our Latitude products. It was code named Aspen. It’s one of our 7 Series, top-of-the-line, detachable Latitude devices that was the first wireless PC in the industry. I thought it was going to be an impossible goal when we said natural interaction equals I don’t like to have a wire hanging off anything I’m doing because it’s not really natural to be plugged into something. People want to walk around in Rome.

18:17 And what we did was create not only can you get 4k displays through a Y gig connection that’s high bandwidth. But you can go dock your PC. You can have that PC charge 45 watts of charging power through your PC.

18:35 So think about going to a conference room, going to your desk. You literally pick up your PC, walk away. You’re disconnected from the large 4k monitor, maybe two 4k monitors you have. You walk into a conference room. You can sit your system down. You’re charging while you’re connected to the big monitor in the conference room maybe having a collaborative session with the three people that have walked into the room with you as you design the factory of the future air conditioning for the factory of the future. So all of that moving to more natural interaction.

19:07 You talked about things we’re doing in VR, AR, MR. It’s like name your slash r reality.

19:18 MARK SCHAEFER: MR– is that Mark reality? Just asking? Because I’m all over it.

19:23 SAM BURD: Yeah, it could be.

19:24 MARK SCHAEFER: Sign me up for a beta test.

19:27 SAM BURD: My friends here in PR and HR we’re trying to get in on the play as well with the popularity of VR. But we told them that doesn’t quite work out. But you think about on the consumer side, we have a product called Dell Visor that works very well with our leadership gaming systems that we have.

19:47 But we’re also seeing business applications. I have companies that a year ago were telling me, hey, you’re talking about this really future stuff. We see it in a long time, but it’s really gaming too. I go and talk to them a year later, and they’re like wow, this is pretty amazing technology that we’re now putting in place, allowing our customers to visualize office spaces and new environments before we even change them. And some people who were pretty conservative in their IT approach.

20:16 So you think about all that. your question, I think it is really both kind of worlds of we’re going to want our data around us. You’re going to see that with screens. And I’m sure we’ll see that in houses in unexpected ways. Semitransparent windows that can now display your email when you wake up and look for the sun coming up. And to see the nice sunrise, you’ll be able to get your email right there coming through your window, all the way to put on a head-mounted device, probably untethered in a not-too-distant future. And it can advise you on I know all the repairs I have on my chore list or information you need around decisions you need to make at work. So I think a pretty interesting future world coming.

20:58 MARK SCHAEFER: Absolutely. A world surrounded by email. I’m not so sure about that.

21:07 SAM BURD: Nothing better.

21:08 DOUGLAS KARR: It sounds to me like my dream of the Star Trek holodeck is coming true. That’s all I know.

21:13 SAM BURD: Well, that’s what we said. We’re not help in the future of cohesive family life as you can have emails around your dining room. Already you can snack on your devices. Soon it will be you’re productive 100% of the time.

21:28 DOUGLAS KARR: Here’s a tough question to throw at you then, Sam, because this is moving so fast. Dell invests an incredible $4.5 billion in annual R&D investments. And I know you’ve got to be sitting at the top and seeing some pretty wild ideas coming out of the research happening there. VR and AR and MR are obviously just incredible. But what could possibly be the next disruptive technology that we’re going to see in the workplace after that?

22:00 SAM BURD: Yeah, I think as you said, VR, AR will be very interesting in the future. I think there’s a lot of cool stuff that we’re doing that will come after that. So we see a ton of potential here for technology. I do think you look at even where VR, AR are, they were hyped to a huge degree. The interesting thing there is now I’m starting to see real usage and application of that technology, which I think means they will be more impactful as we look forward to the next couple of years.

22:32 So one thing we did that was really interesting there is if you think about a company Jaguar Land Rover and how they launched a car, we really totally changed the approach of experiencing that. So you go from today, if you want to go buy a car and the new models are coming out soon or getting near the end of the year, so somehow they always are able to launch next year’s models like halfway through the year. So we’re getting close to that.

22:57 You usually walk into a dealer. They sit and they talk to you, show you what new models they are. They let you sit in the driver’s seat. Maybe throw you the keys. Maybe pop the hood, check out the car.

23:08 Well, last November with Jaguar Land Rover, they took a totally different approach to launching one of their brand new cars, their first electric car– the I-PACE. So they took, with our help on technology, they had 300 people together in LA and London, and basically had those people launch and experience the car when there wasn’t really a car to experience. It’s a little bit of an oxymoron, but you think about using VR and having the journalists experience the car in real life really get to see every little intricate detail of the car.

23:46 If you check the car out, it’s a pretty awesome car. 400 horsepower motor. I think next year you can do your preorders coming up soon. Has a huge great hood scoop if you’re a car fan, great floating center console. You could stick your head anywhere you want in the car rendered in real time so you’d experience that car, which was actually designed on a Dell precision workstation. So, new way of doing it.

24:11 They brought then the car out in one of those sites afterwards in Los Angeles. Didn’t even have a car to show in London. Totally different way of taking VR– huge hype technology– and really starting to put that to use. So I think it’s an example of saying, hey, some of the stuff that’s talked about a lot, it takes a little bit longer than we always think to mature. But we’re starting to see VR and AR come to life.

24:34 Other thing that you asked about what we see in the future. We do see a lot of promise around AI, machine learning, and just generally what we call intelligence in our system. So we’re seeing the ability to start to have systems that think and understand what you’re going to go and do and do things before you even ask them to go and do that.

24:58 So we’ve got some basic steps in that direction. You think about our workstations. There’s a performance optimizer on our workstations that looks at the workload you’re running, changes settings on the device based on intelligence around what’s going to make that run best. We’ve got support offering– something called Pro Support Plus– where it’s looking at information on how you’re using your system feedback from that system. It is predictive of when it thinks failures are going to occur around hard drives, around battery that it can literally go dispatch and get a part sent to you and a repair person showing up to fix your system before you even knew anything was wrong.

25:36 We’re doing that around battery life and how it understands how you’re using your system, and then automatically intelligently optimizes your system so that it gets maximum battery life. Both for the immediate term when you don’t want your battery to run out, plus making sure it lasts for the length of your system, and you don’t lose the ability to charge.

25:54 So we see a lot of promise there. It’s really just the tip of the iceberg around going, how does this technology that I’m sure you guys see as you look at this. But this technology we’re using every day, how do we make that smarter, more intuitive, more predictive thinking about what our needs are and really going and doing that for us? So that’s a huge one that we think is just getting started.

26:19 MARK SCHAEFER: I got to see that Jaguar Land Rover demonstration at Dell EMC world. You could hardly get close to it. There were so many people trying to observe that technology. It was really amazing. And boy, there’s so much potential when you think about marketing. Is there an example, Sam, around maybe a customer example of someone that’s doing digital transformation well that you could talk about that’s really applying these technologies to have a quantum leap change in the way that they’re running their business, the results that they’re getting?

27:09 SAM BURD: Yeah, we see a number of companies, Mark, that are doing some pretty incredible things. But let me point you to a bit of a surprise one, and one I pick out as you think about major league transformation. So I pick a good example. This is a company called Chitale Dairy, located in India, where we’ve worked with them and connected 6,000 cows in Bilwadi, India to the internet.

27:40 It’s a great town on the banks of a pretty river. So you think about these cows roaming the countryside in a pretty rural area are connected to a cloud that then tells farmers what the dietary needs of the cows are, the nutrition levels of the cows, tell them if a cow is in distress and needs to be treated differently. We’ve linked that back to data center and analytics with them that have really helped them increase and have a huge improvement in productivity versus where that business has run.

28:16 This year, we’ll have about 60 million gallons of milk that come to market. Their productivity level about 10x relative to where they’ve been. So they’ve been steadily really improving their business performance. And they’ve done some really pioneering stuff, and we’re happy to have been a good partner with them and helping them take that to the next level.

28:36 So you think about putting technology to use to run a productive business, plus make some of the farmers that are working in that business have a successful ability to deliver milk to them that has beat now what the standard levels of productivity are. It’s a pretty awesome story.

29:00 If you extend from there and India to things we’ve done with our Gateway business that really focused on new IoT applications, we’ve been in the US and Western Europe. We’ve done stuff in that same area, same part of the food chain where we’ve worked around how you take literally decades-old cooling infrastructure in grocery , stores connect that up to the internet, and help attack a problem of there’s a huge amount of waste in the whole food process.

29:36 And you think about the amount of product that gets thrown out, is wasted. People get home and think it’s spoiled. The ability to store that food at the exact right temperature and vary that depending on the right food in the shelf equals simple stuff like your yogurt doesn’t have water sitting on top of it equals it’s not spoiled, doesn’t get tossed. And you have really good gains in productivity through that whole food cycle and the cold chain process.

30:05 So we’ve really done– you think about technology– everything from in a grazing farmer’s field in India to your local grocery store decades-old infrastructure making that smart, alter the aim of people want to have good business results. But it’s also helping solve food problems we have around the world where we go get less waste, more productivity out of the assets out there, equals a good thing for everyone.

30:31 MARK SCHAEFER: That’s a great case study. I’d milk that one for all it’s worth. I hope you PR–

30:37 SAM BURD: You guys are too good.

30:40 MARK SCHAEFER: I wonder what drove that. Do you think there’s some genius dairy farmer out there? Is this accessible to anybody? It’s such an unusual case study. It’s so interesting.

30:55 SAM BURD: Well, I think it takes someone dreaming of how you go do stuff differently. So that’s where we talked in the beginning about companies and people being willing to take risks whether that’s in the US in some of the countries like India, China around the world. Emerging countries and companies looking to disrupt.

31:16 And you go, there are brand new ways you can put technology to use. And you can think about that in lots of different industries. Think about car sharing services that we have today. Think about the technology space, how we book hotel rooms. All that has changed radically, and it’s from these companies and pioneers really willing to go do something differently.

31:37 And the thing we bring to the table is going, we can really look at the end-to-end needs that they have. And we have a really good solution that focuses on the problem they’re trying to go after. And we can put the right assets in place for them, whether that’s Edge devices, network, data center, infrastructure they need, software to do that capability. Our team’s really focused. And Michael has said this from the beginning. When he started the company, we’re focused on the customer, what they’re trying to do, and how we go enable them.

32:08 So I think that’s where there are a lot of people like this who are trying to do things differently. There’s a couple examples of where it’s happened pretty beautifully. And it’s fun to be part of those.

32:19 DOUGLAS KARR: Sam, Dell leaders have repeatedly told us that relentlessly listening to customers is what’s kept them successful. What are you hearing from them now? And what feedback is forging Dell’s priorities for the next few years?

32:32 SAM BURD: I think, Doug, it’s as you said. We’re focused on understanding where our customers need to go, and then driving there aggressively. So we see a couple big trends coming in the future.

32:44 One of them– if I go look at how the IT departments and CIOs that I talk to today are measured and what’s on their scorecard– a huge change, as you just kind of hit on, is they’ve always had cost, and what they spend as a part of the equation. They’re now more than ever concerned about end-user satisfaction, how they get people armed with this great technology. A trend I see is also that IT department partnering with the CMO, the head of sales, other business groups to go put a rationale together around how I put great technology in my people’s hands and go make them successful.

33:25 And the places we’re being asked then to Excel, if you think about that, that’s like a radical shift of Net Promoter Score, how people think about technology matters as much to an IT department as I’m just going to hand you something. So really focused on the tools, the job, the business results that IT’s getting.

33:45 And then four areas– if I look to our future– that we’re really focused on changing the game and pushing aggressively, we’re going to do the next great products next year. My aim and our team’s aim is to have the best products in every single category. We’ve done a pretty good job of that. We’re not perfect, but that is what we set out to go and do. And that’s making the incremental improvements each year.

34:11 We also look and say, we need to do some breakthrough things around these four different areas. So some of these I’ve touched on here. But one of them– natural experiences– is how people can interact with their systems in the ways they want to. Second one, how we make those technology experiences more immersive and it’s like they’re going to be part of the environment. You talked about this multi-screen world, head-mounted displays. It’s just around you and easy to access.

34:38 Number three, how we get these experiences connected. People want their data all the time, easy access to that in devices that feed them the material they need. And then last one we talked about a little bit around intelligence, and how we bring that to devices and the solutions.

34:55 It’s fun, and can be scary for some. But you sit and go, systems that just anticipate my needs and are able to deliver to me the right technology, the answer that I need before I even realize it. I think that’s pretty interesting stuff. And it’s going to help the leading companies of today and tomorrow continue to innovate and do some pretty great things in the world.

35:18 MARK SCHAEFER: I want to build on your answer there, Sam, because when I was in the corporate world, it was really frustrating to me. I was working in e-commerce, really had a pioneering e-commerce effort in its day. And I had this vision about how IT could really propel growth, how it could be really strategic.

35:44 And you mentioned in your answer how a lot of the IT people are still focused on the tools and the costs. And I see that too that there’s still resistance out there to really thinking about IT as the heart of strategy, as the heart of transformation. I know that’s hard to believe. But I’m even seeing that in big companies. What are you seeing out there? Is it starting to shift, or do you still see that resistance that I see out there too?

36:16 SAM BURD: I think, Mark, I’m seeing it start to shift. Now everyone, if you look at it, it’s virtually every IT department, CIO gets measured on cost. But as we went in and looked and did a latest survey of some of the biggest companies in the world, it was just under a quarter of them said user satisfaction matters. And as I go and talk to CIOs, I’m seeing that’s on their agenda like never before.

36:45 And I think that’s a really good thing because like you described, back in your days in the corporate world, IT’s now saying, hey, I’m strategic to a business and the technology I put in people’s hands matters. And it’s as simple as you go think about the millennial requirements and what some of their expectations are, but I’d say it applies equally to every non millennial I talk to and myself. I aspire to be in the millennial category, but not quite there.

37:17 People want great technology to do their job. IT departments– the most progressive ones today– are getting together with other areas and going, how do I invest to keep a sales person connected all the time when they’re mobile, able to see more customers? Which equals we’re going to get more revenue for the business. They’re probably going to have a better in-depth understanding. They’ll get more revenue for this business. Our customers will be happier.

37:48 And hey, if we invest a little more and get them the right tools versus just try to minimize cost per salesperson, one, it’s a pretty small fraction of their salary. Number two, they’re going to be a lot happier. We’re probably going to get the best talent. And we’re going to get some business results. So you see that kind of partnering across IT. I’m seeing that happen today.

38:07 And the best, most progressive companies and CIOs are really thinking about that in a different way, which, to me, hey, it’s exciting as a technology provider. It’s a good challenge on us because it’s saying we need to deliver our team the right solutions to them. But I think we’ve got a ton of capabilities to go and do that. And frankly, it’s a dialogue I really relish and I know our team relishes having with our customers.

38:32 MARK SCHAEFER: Well, Sam, we are so grateful for your time and your wisdom today. What an amazing conversation. We could go on all day, but unfortunately, we’ll have to wind things down. So thanks to you. And thanks to all who have been listening today. We appreciate every one of you.

38:53 Please think of dropping us a line. Let us know what you think. Leave us a review on iTunes. This is Mark Shaefer. And on behalf of Doug Karr and all of us that Luminaries, thank you so much for listening. We will see you next time.

39:10 Luminaries, talking to the brightest minds in tech. A podcast series from Dell Technologies.