We are simplifying IT operations significantly

By: Ibrahim Ahmad, Thomas George &  Anil Chopra, Cyber Media

To meet its global vision to ‘transform, connect, inform, and protect customers,’ Dell has been investing actively, undertaking large-scale acquisitions. To know more about Dell’s future strategy and outlook for the Indian market, Dataquest caught up with Amit Midha, President, Dell Asia-Pacific, and Chairman, Dell Global Emerging Markets. Now based in Shanghai, Midha has been with Dell for more than 15 years,
holding leadership roles. Edited excerpts from the exclusive interview follow

Using technology to transform businesses and societies to bring more efficiency and affordability is one of the aims of Dell.How do you see that happening around you?

Let’s take pharmaceutical and medical services industry for instance. It is evolving at a great pace. Genome sequencing, for example, has evolved rapidly—in 2004 it used to be $20 mn, today it is down to $1,000 heading to $100 by the end of this year.

By 2020, you will be able to sequence someone’s genomes in a few cents. In fact, it will become much cheaper. You can imagine a doctor in 2020 will have more in common with a data scientist and
a computer scientist than today’s doctor. It’s all about information.
The doctors will have to deal with probabilities and tendencies. They will have to see what can be done from medicines with acute care to derive a better outcome. When you have an impact like this on genome sequencing,then sky is the limit for what’s going to happen.

But in all this, data security is also a big concern. How is that being addressed?

This whole big trend that I talked about is also around security—the more digital we become the more information is available for people to exploit and people to use for games, financial, or otherwise. And in that construct, security cannot be an afterthought. Security has to be a
part of the solution.

How has been the response to Dell’s new strategy: Transform, connect, inform, and protect?

We have been following this for a few years now. I would say transformation is doing phenomenally well for us. And datacenter transformation is exceptionally good. For example, at the Singapore Stock Exchange, they have an IT mainframe and they basically went to a point and said
we connect and rely on a single company to give all our innovation. We have customers that moved from COBOL to modern programming. You can see the transformation in our server business also and we think that SDCs are going to be hugged. Our business is booming. We are #1 across Asia Pacific and Japan and #1 in India with 26% revenue now on the server side. Hyper converged infrastructure
is helping us improve our performance, which in turn is enabling us simplify IT operations significantly for our customers.

If you look at $3 tn IT industry globally, two third of that is people. So unless we can move away from selling our customers a carburetor to selling them an engine, customers won’t be able to do more and that’s what our whole mindset is. If customers need to innovate more to
change their business models to digital transformation, CIOs need to have their desks full today, in terms of what they can handle and they require a set of solutions which are more aggregate v/s solutions in the past.

So that’s where we are. Transformation and security are doing exceptionally well. We are handling 100 bn cyber security incidences a day. And this number used to be less than half last year. We want to help our customers transform their business—help them connect with their customers and employees in ways that weren’t possible earlier, get better insights from their data, and protect their assets. That’s our global vision: Transform, connect, inform, and protect.

The Dell cloud marketplace you talked about, is it available in India? If not, when will it be available here?

As a product, it is available today. As a service, we have launched it only in the US. We don’t have a date yet but it depends on how well the US piece goes as we just launched it there. India is #3 in terms of our revenue and #1 in terms of employee based outside of the US. India
plays a strategic role for us in terms of our business opportunities, operations as well as financial success and is a part of the top 10 countries.

How do you compare IT in China versus IT in India?

I would say at the micro level, China market is almost five times that of India. From IT maturity perspective, I would say China’s level of sophistication—be it the digital market size, or the user of open source technology to building unbelievable mobile Internet offerings—is second to
none. Not even the US compares to China. China has moved from the use of technology as an efficiency mechanism to creating an innovation journey around mobility
better than anybody else.

You have witnessed both the markets—China and India. Do you see India at an inflection point?

I would say that in digital services, India does better than anybody else. You know you have applications after applications, but most of the applications are coming out of India which are cutting edge and are targeted towards the US and Europe, basically trying to serve those markets
digitally outside India. What is happening here is nothing short of a revolution. According to me, a lot of shake up will happen. Technology resources are also
pretty strong.

We have seen Dell doing some selective acquisitions. What’s your say on this?

I cannot give the names of the companies but I can tell you that we are continuing to be active in the investment process. We are investing in storage, software, security, and healthcare companies. Some of those may or may not be public. Some of them are bigger and transformative where we do think we want to integrate and build. I believe that our financial strength now is such that we are ready to go for large-scale acquisitions as well, when needed. But our criteria doesn’t change. It has to come under ‘transform, connect, inform, and protect.’ We will not change our DNA. These are our core values that have made us successful.

We see a lot of business transformation leads also happening through IT outsourcing. We don’t hear much from Dell’s side. Please throw some light on that.

We have a BPO business that’s primarily for the US and overseas markets, executed in India. We have done a few in the past here too but we realized that outsourcing is just about labor arbitrage and not our cup of tea. We think companies should be rethinking about outsourcing
instead of just saying let’s outsource IT to someone else. We have seen many customers who have outsourced and came back after 6-7 years and said, “IT is a mess today, because I don’t even know where to start and I don’t have connection to businesses as well. I have not innovated in my business models.

I feel that my team is weak and the senior management is no longer there.” So I think if every company has to fight for survival, then the biggest difference in their ability to survive will fail because of talent. Use of talent and technology is very
important.

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