The proliferation of mobile devices, telecommuting, and cloud computing are just some of the factors causing a dramatic shift in the enterprise technology ecosystem. With this shift come increased expectations from IT managers for agility and innovation to securely manage the flow of information from the end-user device to the data center to the cloud. Dell has responded to these demands with a deeper push into sophisticated data-center technologies, cloud applications, and IT services. However, our attention to these technologies has not—and will not—come at the expense of innovation in other foundational areas like employee-facing technology. Other companies have used the recent shifts in the corporate IT landscape as a chance to scale back the resources and efforts they put into developing technologies like PCs. At Dell, we view this tactic as a missed opportunity.
Enterprise technology vendors have a choice: they can look at end-user devices as an afterthought or commodity in the new corporate computing scenario, or they can acknowledge that these devices are an indispensible piece of the entire IT infrastructure. Now more than ever the very interface through which members of the new mobile workforce connect to the enterprise network deserves continued investment.
PCs are not a commodity; they are a critical element of our customers’ businesses. Consumerization, desktop virtualization, endpoint security, and other technology initiatives require a combination of end-user devices and complementary services and solutions. These trends are making the expertise and development of PCs and other end-user technologies even more important, not less so. Customers don’t like hearing that a critical piece of their IT infrastructure has become a “commodity play” in the eyes of the company that supplies it or experiencing the implications of such prioritization (or lack thereof).
Enterprise customers care about the PC, and their concerns about its fate aren’t unfounded. We’ve all seen the slow deterioration in product quality that occurs when a product line falls out of favor with its producer. As a company’s resources flow to its more-strategic businesses, developers of the left-behind products are forced to make choices on how to channel their dwindling resources. A cheaper component or the decision to leave out a useful new technology will start to limit the device’s ability to perform seamlessly with the rest of the enterprise infrastructure.
Rather than accept the idea that end-user devices have become a commodity, Dell continues to invest in their value. For example, we work closely with industry partners to develop innovative components, as was the case with dual-core processors that boost processing power while not overheating. And Dell continues to produce its own innovations for end-user device security, including built-in PC technologies that enable powerful remote management processes such as patch management, software updates, and troubleshooting—all done easily, efficiently, and from afar.
Frankly, we like the PC business. It remains a huge and important business for us. Today there’s a global installed base of more than 1 billion PCs, and according to Gartner, that number is expected to expand to 2 billion units by 2014. And because PCs and servers use so many of the same components, our PC business helps afford us the supply chain purchasing power to deliver products at better prices than a PC- or server-only company can.
But the real reason Dell keeps investing in innovation around PCs and other end-user devices is because customers count on our expertise to deliver value across their entire IT infrastructure. Enterprise customers, especially the midsized companies that make up the bulk of the market, want end-to-end solutions that work seamlessly.
A technology vendor’s separate business units don’t concern CIOs and technology managers who have to keep their entire IT ecosystem healthy. To customers, the front end and the back end of the IT infrastructure are inseparable. Why should it be different for technology vendors purporting to offer solutions for end-to-end enterprise systems?
It’s not one element that makes a solution; it’s a combination of expertise across the entire technology continuum. That’s what our customers expect of us, and it’s exactly what we pledge to deliver.