Dell EMC’s asymmetrical channel strategy

MIchael Dell
Dell CEO MIchael Dell

Next year's partner programme could have a striking resemblance to only one half of the merged entity's 2016 offering

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5 October 2016 | 0

Billy MacInnesMichael Dell provided some thoughts about the role of the channel for Dell and EMC at the Canalys Channels Forum in Barcelona this week. According to one report, he told the channel audience that it was “up to you” how much indirect business Dell did.

He claimed the company did not put “a ceiling or upper limit on the channel” but pointed out the vendor had grown indirect sales to account for half of its EMEA business since 2007. When you consider it was coming from a publicly stated position of nearly zero (there were always some sales from channel partners during that time but Dell usually didn’t acknowledge them), that’s quite an impressive feat.

Cleverly, he didn’t announce a future target for channel sales that could be used against him at a later date. By saying the proportion of indirect sales was “up to” channel partners, he managed to make it all about them rather than Dell. But while there is some truth in what he says, it’s not the whole story. Yes, partners will be the ones making the channel sales to customers, so the proportion of indirect business will be reliant on their enthusiasm for the vendor and their effectiveness at selling its products.

But equally, the vendor will have a responsibility to ensure that channel partners are suitably enthused to sell its products. That part isn’t up to them at all. That’s up to Dell.

So what will it do to help them? Well Michael Dell revealed that the new Dell-EMC channel strategy, due to be unveiled at Dell EMC World later this month and rolled out on 1 February 2017, would “be a little bit of the best of both” of both companies’ previous programmes. This is reassuring, as far as it goes. People might have been alarmed if he’d said the plan to was keep the worst of both. But he might have made more sense to say that the vendor wanted to combine all the best bits of both companies’ channel strategies rather than just a little bit of them.

It was left to Michael Collins, senior vice president for channel business at Dell EMC, to provide a little bit more detail to MicroScope on how the vendor planned to create the best channel programme by retaining the simple, predictable and profitable philosophy behind the old EMC channel strategy and reducing some of the complexities of the Dell one. Which is a bit strange because to me that sounds more like keeping the best bits of one and just getting rid of the worst bits of the other.

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