Bill Scannell: Why Dell Technologies ‘stands to benefit the most’ in a data-driven, multi-cloud world

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Bill Scannell: Why Dell Technologies ‘stands to benefit the most’ in a data-driven, multi-cloud world

Bill Scannell knows that Dell Technologies and its channel partners are in prime position to capitalize on the explosion of data in a multi-cloud world as businesses strive to digitally transform.

Scannell, who became Dell Technologies’ president of global sales and customer operations in February, has been instrumental in growing Dell Technologies, and EMC before that, for more than three decades.

“As exciting as the last 34 years have been, these next 10 years are going to be unbelievable,” he said.

In an interview with CRN ahead of the coronavirus outbreak being declared a pandemic, Scannell explains why Dell Technologies -- along with its partners -- will shine over the next decade.


How big are the partner opportunities ahead in a data-driven world?

The two most important assets for any company are your people and your data. Data is growing a lot faster than the people. How you monetize that data, leverage that data and run AI across that data is going to allow you to make better decisions. In a digital world, it all comes down to the data -- and it’s not just the data you have within your organization, it’s the data your partners have and the data that’s in the market in general. If partners can start to pull it all together and [use] that data to make business decisions, you’re going to benefit.

This data has to be stored somewhere. We’re the No. 1 storage company and No. 1 server company in the world, and data sitting on storage without compute attached to it is no good. You can’t run AI and [machine learning] against the data without having all the components that we offer today. So as data continues to explode, the company that stands to benefit the most from it is Dell Technologies, and our partners.


How is Dell differentiating itself in terms of cloud-native apps in a multi-cloud world?

Every one of our customers is trying to transform digitally, which means they have to write new cloud-native applications to meet customers in new ways and new locations. With my Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform, I can help them write these applications in an agile manner and deploy them in the cloud of their choice, whether it’s a public cloud or on-premises cloud. We give them the opportunity to move from cloud to cloud because they’re developed in the correct platform. They didn’t use Amazon’s platform or Microsoft’s platform -- they used a vendor-agnostic platform called Pivotal Cloud Foundry so I can move it from cloud to cloud or run those applications on-premises.

Multi-cloud and IT transformation is a huge opportunity for us. Customers are trying to figure out what application they want to run in the public cloud and which ones are better run on-premises. We have partnerships with all the public cloud providers, but we have a very strong opinion that customers who are well-run and efficient can do it a lot more cost effectively on-premises than going to a public cloud -- anywhere from 30 [percent] to 40 percent less expensive if they modernize their IT and take advantage of some of the assets we have with VMware.


You’ve been working with the channel for over 30 years. Can you talk about your direct versus indirect strategy leading the new unified commercial and enterprise sales organization?

I wouldn’t say direct versus indirect, I’d say direct and indirect. It’s not an either/or -- it’s a both. I’m no stranger to the partner community. From my early days as a sales rep for EMC, I’ve leveraged partners. Around 2012, we had already created a commercial division within EMC and said, ‘We’re going to go through the channel.’ Then in the enterprise we said, ‘We have a lot of uncovered accounts. Let’s leverage the channel to go after that.’ We put together rules of engagement. There are customers that want to buy directly from us and we’ve had direct relationships for a long time, and where that exists, we should do that to give the customers what they want. A lot of customers want to work with their trusted channel partners. When that’s the case, we will work with the channel partner. We have reach in the market now with our channel organization that is immense. I don’t care what product it is, if they find an opportunity and bring it to me -- guess what? I’m going to let them register that opportunity. We’re going to work with them and make sure they’re wildly successful. It’s a great combination when everyone wins.


You’re now leading Dell’s massive client business. What’s your sales strategy around PCs?

We’re always changing and always tweaking. When you stand still, everyone figures out what your plot is and they sell around it. Customers can buy directly from us, we can supply it to them anywhere in the world, but often a channel partner has a strong relationship with a customer and can sell them our clients. The market is consolidating. There are really three of us that mean anything in that space and then there’s a longtail of other vendors who supply PCs. Channel partners … want to figure out who the winners are going to be as the market consolidates. So they come to us with an opportunity to say, ‘Hey I have a customer who is not buying Dell. I’d like to introduce you into the account and register the opportunity.’ Guess what? That’s incremental business for us and we’re going to work with the channel partner. Where it makes sense to partner in the client business, we’ll partner.


What were the behind-the-scenes discussions when EMC purchased VMware in 2004 and then Dell purchased the company in 2016?

EMC bought VMware for around $600 million. Their valuation eventually became north of $60 billion. When we first acquired them, I remember [former EMC CEO] Joe Tucci saying, ‘Hey Bill, we’re going to buy this great company.’ I said, ‘I know them, it’s a great acquisition.’ He said, ‘But we’re going to work with all your competitors. We’re going to let VMware partner with NetApp and with IBM and with HP and with Dell,’ who was a competitor at the time ‘and we want you guys to take a back seat and let VMware build an ecosystem to build their business.’ And we did that. It was the right thing to do. When Michael [Dell] acquired EMC, he said, ‘The time is right for us to embrace VMware around having you guys give them more reach into the market.’ Quite frankly, you can’t deliver IT transformation without VMware. You can’t deliver digital transformation without VMware. You can’t do security transformation or workforce [transformation] without VMware. VMware has over 90 percent of the server virtualization market. They’re a leader in software-defined storage and a leader in software-defined networking.


Can you talk about the relationship with VMware as VMware works with some of your competitors?

VMware still has an ecosystem of partners, some of whom are my competitors, but their No. 1 partner in the world is Dell Technologies. We’re responsible for a large percentage of their revenue. The partnership is incredibly important for Dell and VMware because our customers are demanding it. However, if a customer says, ‘Dell, with all due respect, I want to buy VMware but I might buy one of your competitors’ compute,’ then we have to be able to step back and say, ‘VMware, go with the business.’ Then they’re a Dell customer through VMware. And once they’re a customer with either our VMware or our client or storage, we have a great opportunity to go in and cross-sell all the lines of business. Every one of those customers who have bought a Dell product -- whether it’s VMware or client, etc. -- they have a good experience with us. The doors are open to go in and talk about other products, other opportunities and how we can help with other problems they have throughout their organization. The best way to do that in a lot of accounts is to fi nd the trusted channel partner. One plus one equals three when we get with our channel partners. It’s easy to go and exceed our customers’ expectations.


What mark does Bill Scannell want to leave on Dell Technologies?

I would like for Dell Technologies to be better when I leave than when I took over the position. I’m blessed with an incredible team of leaders and sales folks around the world. I look at my peer group with [COO and Vice Chairman] Jeff Clarke, [Chief Customer Officer] Karen Quintos, [Chief Marketing Officer] Allison Dew -- I think everybody at Dell sells. There are 30,000 official [sales] folks, but we have almost 170,000 employees that every day are trying to exceed customer expectations and help out any way they can. So whether it’s the admin answering the phone or the pre-sales person helping or the delivery person or the marketing person creating brand awareness -- whatever the function is, everyone has a common goal of creating technology to improve human progress. That’s our strategy as Dell Technologies. Make this place a better world. Help companies do cancer research quicker, feed the hungry, build homes for the homeless. We’ve got this great vision as a company. It’s great being part of it.

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