Tom Sweet has been a finance leader at Dell since 1997. In that capacity, he would have worked closely with Michael Dell to engineer the finer points of the mega merger between Dell and EMC. Tom continues to do the heavy lifting at Dell Technologies watching the numbers like a hawk.
As the CFO and the head of business strategy, Tom laid out some details about the company’s business strategy and financial plans . But without numbers,. Maybe because he was addressing tech media and not financial analysts/ press at the Dell EMC World 2017 at Las Vegas last month.
Tom articulated the company’s strategy in relation to the financial framework; he said that the company has accomplished a lot, but there was much more to be done. But sans any numbers, it is difficult to comment on them.
Tom did mention with one number during his media interactions that Dell Technologies has been able to pay down in one quarter $7B of its debt from the huge pile of nearly $57B.
From other published financial sources, we know that for fiscal 2017, Dell Technologies had an operating loss of $3.3 billion on revenue of $61.6 billion. Comparing revenues (revenue growth) does not make sense because of the merger between two companies.
Other performance figures available from secondary sources but not alluded to here suggest that the company’s performance in the last quarter had bright spots in terms of good growth in infrastructure group, networking, storage, and client solutions.
Tom helped us visit the company’s vision statement which read thus: To become the essential infrastructure company from edge to the data center to the cloud, not only for today’s applications, but for the cloud-native world we are entering. Pragmatic, not lofty, not abstract; to me it conveys a great sense of relevance to the current market.
The company’s focus from the time the merger was announced in October 2015 to when it was completed in September 2016 to now was to create a unified portfolio and go-to-market strategy, strengthening advisory and services capability.
Tom spelt out the goals for the next two years: to be the clear leader in IT infrastructure and client solutions, be the recognized expert in digital transformation, have the strongest multi-cloud portfolio, provide business-driven security products and services, and to have the most comprehensive array of solutions and consumption models.
The financial framework to achieve these goals would include growth in revenue, generate dollars through margins, balanced cost framework, and cross-sell between businesses.
Said Tom, “Our keys to win are to grow at a premium to the market, generate superior margins and cash flows, accelerate emerging growth opportunities, execute against cost and revenue synergies, and drive innovative solutions.”
One of the key investment areas is to increase sales coverage. Dell is also focusing heavily on pushing various flexible consumption models. In the client solutions business, the investments would be targeted at gaming computers, notebooks, and specialty displays.
On the infrastructure side, the key investment areas include 14G server line, hyperconverged and converged infrastructure, hybrid and multicloud, software-defined data center, and cloud native application development platforms.