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Q&A: Rob Tomlin, vice-president of channels UK&I, Dell Technologies

As Rob Tomlin completes his first year as UK channel chief at Dell, it's a good time to reflect on the progress made and future goals

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It is just over a year since Rob Tomlin took up the position as UK&I channel chief at Dell Technologies, with a brief to keep the momentum in the partner business going.

He inherited a channel business from Sarah Shields, who moved into a European role. The business was in a strong position, but Tomlin had some ideas around how he wanted to improve matters.

How has the first year gone?

I set out some quite clear objectives. Firstly, to enable our partners to really embrace where we were growing as an organisation, which was multicloud, secondly, to help our partners in the channel grow their server business and their datacentre business as a whole, and then also to attract specialist partners – those partners that Dell hadn’t dealt with that might have been comfortable dealing with our competition, but didn’t know about our portfolio – and bring them into the Dell family.

If I reflect on the year and how we’ve done, then we have made tremendous progress on multicloud. It’s a great story in the marketplace – you only have to look at our share progress in the market in the UKI, but also globally. The partners are getting the big benefit of investing in multicloud. The collaboration with VMware, [Microsoft] Azure and AWS [Amazon Web Services] from a hybrid perspective means that the partners are getting the benefit of that.

“We’re on track for the kind of goals I set out for myself when I joined. We’ve still got a long way to go, because we’ve been very, very ambitious, but we’re making really good progress”
Rob Tomlin, Dell Technologies

From the server perspective, it has been a tough market, but Dell has continued at pace to take share in the market. We are very pleased with that in the channel. Our server business in the channel has had growth.

How have you encouraged more server sales through the channel?

We’ve really doubled down in feet on the street in the partners, enabling them to take Dell solutions to market. We’ve made it simpler for them to deal register with us and our speed to quote and our support for them is something we have been 100% focused on. It’s had some great fruition.

On the third ambition to get specialist partners, how has that gone?

An example would be OCF, a big HPC [high-performance computing] business that had never worked with Dell until 12 months ago, and now it has come on board. There are many stories, many similar companies to OCF which are specialist partners that are able to take specialist solutions to market on behalf of Dell, working with our end user sales teams.

Looking back on the year, we’re quite pleased that we’ve made good progress. We’re on track for the kind of goals I set out for myself when I joined. We’ve still got a long way to go, because we’ve been very, very ambitious, but we’re making really good progress.

What are you looking for from the channel in 2020?

We’re really focusing on Dell Technology On Demand, as per the announcements that were made a few weeks ago, creating cloud-like hybrid cloud solutions for partners to help them build annuities when selling hardware, leveraging our on-demand announcements. We are going to be focusing on making sure all of our partners are enabled and ready to sell those solutions in the marketplace. We think that really hits the spot with all customers.

“We are 12 years into our partner programme and we are at the stage where we are making those big investments in the smaller partners and helping them win with Dell”
Rob Tomlin, Dell Technologies

In addition, we’ve made some big investments in local partners and local customers around the country. So we’re really focusing on turning up both as a partner team in local partners throughout the country, but also collaborating those partners with our local sales teams. We are 12 years into our partner programme and we are at the stage where we are making those big investments in the smaller partners and helping them win with Dell.

Those are kind of big bets and we will continue with lighting up more specialist partners who are benefiting from the R&D investments that Dell’s making – $4.5bn a year, globally. We’re making technology that we’re bringing to market that partners want to sell and users want to buy it. It’s a great place to be right now.

Lastly, how has it been for you personally making the move to Dell?

I have absolutely loved it. The culture of Dell is great and the partners have been super supportive. The partners all see the opportunity that the Dell platform is creating for them. I’m very blessed with a great team.

We’ve invested heavily during my first year, in the channel and in growing our channel team, and bringing people into the business has helped us grow. I’m delighted with the year we’ve had and personal experience I’ve gained by being here.

 

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