UPDATE: Who's excited by Dell's newest product offerings? Is the DELL brand worth much in today's marketplace? And their tether to Intel and Windows is pretty hard to escape. Though they are releasing a few "lower-end" systems with Android. WOOT! Here's ZDNet's Take: The New Dells.
Dell buys Dell and puts out press announcements about their recommitment to Dell. NICE. Can I get Windows 7 with that, please? I'm hopeful but doubtful that the return of Dell to Dell will be much different from the return of Dell to Dell. "He's no Steve Jobs," I like to say.
I've already done my inventory of Dell posts, so what can I say to dig deeper into my own webby mess of Dell jabs?
- Dell Drops the Green Flag Back In the Mud
- Fixing Dell.com – It Is Easier to Buy a Dell from Best Buy
- Dell's SALE Addiction Problem
Perhaps I can pick up where my Why Is Dell Failing post left off. Let's pick two topics I haven't covered before:
BIG ISSUE: Dell's Matrix & Silo Leadership
Here's how I experienced Dell's Silo Wars first hand. In 2007 Dell launched VOSTRO, a computer brand for Small and Medium Businesses. It was Dell's first computer brand introduction in over 10 years and it was gearing up, company-wide to be a big deal. Dell's aspirational "I Believe" campaign came from this launch.
As you would expect, the Small and Medium Business Leadership unit owned VOSTRO. But… The group that I worked for, called PUBLIC, didn't want to get left out of the VOSTRO buzz, so I worked with as part of the Global Online Team, with a group of marketers who were going to get VOSTRO marketing materials ready for the PUBLIC channels of Dell's business. (Definition: PUBLIC at Dell consisted of Education, Government, Healthcare, and Large Business.)
So the irony, of course, was this computer system was aimed at low-cost hardware and services for smallish businesses, and the large business units wanted a piece of the action, so to speak. But this is where the conflict came in. I remember, early in the process, a meeting I was asked to lead with the Latitude Business team. This group was diametrically opposed to another BRAND being introduced into their business channels. While I was just trying to get information from the various siloed leaders about how they would like to consume the VOSTRO marketing materials, I was constantly interrupted by Latitude brand manager's who kept asking questions like, "Why do we even want Vostro?"
At one point I summarized my role, "Guys, I am here to let you know what is coming from VOSTRO. I don't have any influence on why or how the decision was made, but only to bring you the good news."
Our team even made plastic banners we could hang on our cubicle walls to denote our participation in the FIRST GLOBAL LAUNCH. I still have it.
It became like a pirate flag as I maneuvered the matrix of Dell's business units and leadership teams of Public to bring the good news. VOSTRO Is Coming.
BIGGER ISSUE: The Post-PC Consumer Problem
While Dell has made a few inspired attempts to jump from a box distributor to something else, mostly their product efforts have flopped. Starting with the legacy of the Dell DJ and Dell Ditti (Dell's answer to the iPod) on through to the Dell mobile phones and tablets. Today there are no phones on Dell.com and one 10" tablet. But even with their tablet you can see that Dell is trying to figure out what to do. Here's a screenshot from today's Latitude 10 Windows Tablet page.
There's only one problem with this image. There are no Operating System OPTIONS for the Latitude 10. I bet Dell wishes there were. But this legacy sales system show's some of Dell's lack of focus on this every expanding and important market. There's nothing inherently wrong with the Dell Latitude 10 Windows Tablet. It looks about like any other tablet.
The problem is similar to what is happening with Microsoft's own Surface tablets. Nobody wants an "almost as good as" iPad. And while Samsung has made huge strides in upping the game, the Android system is still a few generations behind Apple and a few years behind platform ubiquity. The response to Monday's release of Microsoft's Surface computers was similar to any argument FOR buying a Dell.
1. There is nothing new.
2. They run Microsoft Office
3. If you have a purchasing contract with Microsoft or Dell you can now get a tablet that will even run full apps.
Granted, it's a miserable time to be up against Apple, the innovation leader and category killer. But Dell's got to start somewhere. And perhaps their cash investment from Microsoft, will only continue to hamper real innovation at Dell.
Let's watch and see what the NEW DELL or DELL 3.0 will bring to market. Anything revolutionary before Christmas I wonder? Most likely not. And of course the Dell rebirth is not a quick fix. It's more of a stabilization and hopeful return to business basics and fundamentals. The only problem is, people don't trust the Dell brand like they used to. And in the global marketplace, there are a lot of competitors who are cheaper and more agile in their product designs and launches.
Welcome back to Dell Mr. Dell. Let's hope 3rd-time's a charm, cause your 2nd coming, with Mark Jarvis and Enfatico, was a bit of a bust.
References: Patrick Lencioni, Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable About Destroying the Barriers That Turn Colleagues Into Competitors
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