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Dell channel chief reflects on her first year

Rola Dagher has been in the hot seat since September 2020, leading Dell’s channel through a pandemic at a time when digital transformation continues to push changes at a customer level

Dell’s global channel chief can look back on her first year in office with a fair amount of satisfaction. The vendor has experienced growth through partners and increasing resonance around its push to get resellers selling more of its portfolio.

Rola Dagher has enjoyed a great reception and outstanding performance from the partner base since stepping into the global channel chief position at Dell last September.

“I’ve seen nothing but amazing growth and amazing loyalty and collaboration, and the huge empowerment from both our channel partners and our team on this side,” she said.

Dagher pointed to its second-quarter numbers as evidence of what that looks like in terms of numbers, with the quarter delivering a 45% increase in order revenues through the channel globally, distribution up 54% year-over-year, and growth in client solutions, servers and storage.

What that channel performance means in terms of a big number to grasp onto is that the firm has moved the dial forward as it gets ever closer to $60bn.

“The last four quarters of Dell Technologies, in terms of orders revenue through the channel, is $58bn,” she said.

Rob Tomlin, vice-president of channels UK&I at Dell Technologies, said that from a UK perspective the firm had worked hard with its channel to alleviate some of the supply issues plaguing the industry.

“The Dell supply chain was phenomenal for the first half of the year. While others have struggled, we were able to deliver for our partners. We’ve been a consistent and reliable supplier,” he said.

“The Dell supply chain was phenomenal for the first half of the year. While others have struggled, we were able to deliver for our partners. We’ve been a consistent and reliable supplier”
Rob Tomlin, Dell Technologies

The other highlight for Tomlin was the performance of the channel in the sweet spot of the mid-market. “We also had phenomenal performance in the mid-market and medium business,” he said. “We announced last year that we were going channel first in the datacentre and we saw over 80% growth in the datacentre in medium business, and that was across servers and storage.”

Dagher said the focus would be on keeping the momentum going and building on a strong first half so the end-to-end partner experience remained solid. “We are going to continue to focus on simplifying the way we do business. We are going to continue to provide more predictability and more profit profitability,” she said.

“We’re living in a world where it’s all about the experience and how we make the experience easier for our partners to do business with us, how we continue to raise the bar with the automated tools and the processes that we’ve been investing in.”

There is also the Apex as-a-service offering to talk about, with Dell keen to support partners and customers that want to change their delivery and consumption models.

“Apex is the next evolution of what we’ve been building on for decades, aligning us even more closely to customer outcomes and results. The pace of adoption will be driven by customer acceptance because we’re seeing it increasing every day,” she said.

Dagher added that although every partner was talking about as a service, not every one of them was in a position to deliver, but it had put a lot of resources into Apex and support for the channel.

“We’re going out there into every single region, every single country, focusing on those partners that are ready. Our job is to enable them and empower them and get out of their way so they can go out there and deliver on those strong services,” she said.

“I see nothing more than our partners working with us every single day to disrupt through the innovation that we have. What they bring to the table is experience and so much more – we could never do it without them”
Rola Dagher, Dell Technologies

Tomlin said it had been offering consumption selling for a while in the UK, under its previous incarnation of Flex on Demand, and customers continued to look to partners give a cloud-like consumption model. “Apex custom is live now and we are writing orders for it all the time,” he said.

The other area that the vendor continues to encourage its channel around is storage, with the firm continuing to incentivise involvement with decent compensation and discounts.

Those efforts to get sales across client, server and storage are paying off, with partners selling more of the vendor’s portfolio.

“The digital transformation world is a journey, and Dell technology is a platform that provides every step of the journey, because when you have a conversation about a PC, it leads to a server, it leads to storage, it leads to cyber recovery, and to security, and the software through all of that. Partners are leaning more and more towards that simplified total solution approach,” said Dagher.

Her first year at the helm in the channel has been one of the strangest, what with coronavirus raging across the globe, but she shared a sense of optimism that is felt widely across the industry – that the channel is emerging from the worst of the pandemic in a strong place.

“I see nothing more than our partners working with us every single day to continue to go out there and disrupt through the innovation that we have. What they bring to the table is experience and so much more – we could never do it without them,” she concluded.

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