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With Dell's impending acquisition of EMC for $67 billion -- the largest IT company acquisition to date -- set to close in 2016, what the size and scope of the combined channel will be, as well as how the evolution of the vendor-partner relationship will shape up down the road, is anyone's guess.
While Dell isn't at liberty to discuss details just yet, SearchITChannel chatted with Jim DeFoe, vice president and general manager of the North America channel organization at Dell, hoping he would shed some light on what a roadmap for current Dell channel partners might look like as well as any challenges he sees ahead for both Dell and its North American partners.
Just weeks after the Dell PartnerDirect Summit and Dell World 2015, DeFoe shared his take on partner buzz at the event:
Jim DeFoe: The overwhelming feedback we got from partners about the partner program was that they continue to be excited about participating. And the evolution that we had for the past eight years as we've developed a partner program at Dell continues to grow and continues to be a large percentage of the business on a worldwide basis. So there was a lot of positive feedback around the program, engagement and opportunity that they're seeing with Dell.
From some key messages that we had around products, innovation and technology, they continue to see Dell as a leader across the IT platforms. And, we got very positive comments from our partners around collaboration and engagement with our segment teams. So, partners are telling us that they're growing and they're growing with us with profitability and that's been a key area of focus for us, so we feel pretty good.
We're going to continue to gather feedback from them and continue to enhance the programs and make it easier for them to do business with us. We talked about some of the investments we made in IT efficiencies and they've seen that come to fruition, and we'll continue to take them through the roadmap of how we're going to invest in them and in us.
What feedback did you hear from Dell channel partners regarding the EMC acquisition?
Jim DeFoevice president and general manager, North America channel organization, Dell
DeFoe: Overall we got very positive feedback. Like any time we've done an acquisition ... we take a look at our partner program versus that of the company we acquire and we bring best of breed together and ultimately it strengthens our partner program. So after the EMC acquisition, we assume we'll do the same thing.
So partners who've been with us have seen that demonstrated [with] several acquisitions through the years.
What kind of growth in the partner program in North America do you expect to see with the EMC acquisition?
DeFoe: I can't go into numbers, but I can tell you that we've had several partners reach out to us after the [EMC] announcement and some have been transacting business with us and they want to accelerate that business ... some [partner companies] have not done business with us and want to investigate that and are now in the process of becoming a Dell partner.
As I said previously, at the close of the acquisition we'll take a look at both programs and take best of breed to enhance the Dell PartnerDirect program and anticipate that we'll see an increase in enhancements to our current programs. When we've done this in the past, partners have been very pleased.
The merging of the Dell and EMC partner programs is so much bigger than anything Dell has done in the past.
DeFoe: Yes it is, but we're quite comfortable with our plan and strategy that will be implemented.
Are there particular areas of focus in Dell's partner program that you want to improve?
DeFoe: It's always around our key tenets: ease of doing business, providing partner profitability, and being able to sell end-to-end solutions -- it doesn't change the foundation of our program, but we'll look at how we can enhance these key tenets.
Is there a roadmap for Dell channel partners that you can share as the company moves towards the close of the EMC acquisition -- how they can think about their partnership, what they can expect?
DeFoe: Again the focus will continue to be how we can grow our business with our partner community. We see this as a great opportunity to expand our partner business as it continues to grow within Dell, as it continues to become a bigger part of our overall business, and we anticipate that the same strategies that we deployed through other acquisitions we'll deploy through this acquisition.
I can't give you any more details because the transaction has not been completed.
What concerns do you have about the Dell partner community and the EMC partner community at this time?
DeFoe: We continue to gather feedback from our existing partners -- we have a variety of partner councils that provide that feedback around partner enhancements, IT efficiencies or new products --and we continue to listen to them and do course corrections to the program ...
How about focusing on some specific concerns that you have -- say, your top three concerns about Dell's partner community at this time?
DeFoe: I don't know if I have any real concerns. We see this as a great opportunity.
So, you're not concerned about any partners jumping ship, about partner concerns about rationalizing the product portfolios, about how they address their customer's concerns through the transition ...? There'll be a lot of disruption, there are competing vendors out there ... other vendors have been down a similar path and it can be a very tumultuous path for partners for quite some time.
DeFoe: I can tell you that we put together a very senior leadership team around the integration and that includes our partner community and we're very comfortable that we'll understand the requirements of integrating EMC and Dell.
The feedback has been very positive. There aren't many concerns from the partners we've talked to. They've been through this before, they've seen us acquire companies and we make sure that we communicate with them through a number of venues and we'll address any concerns that come up.
They continue to want to understand more about Dell and that's what we're doing.
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