Dell Technologies: Talent equals success

Vangelis Lagousakos, senior director - channel sales MERAT at Dell Technologies on reducing the talent gap in the region with a revamped partner program

Dell Technologies, Middle East
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Dell Technologies recently rebranded its partner program based on three key tenets - making it simple, predictable and profitable. The revamped and retitled Dell Technologies partner program offers simplified engagement for partners to cross-sell and procure products across Dell Technologies’ family of brands.

The new partner program has been developed in collaboration with Dell Technologies’ partners globally, taking into account feedback on what worked and where there was room for improvement. The resulting program offers bigger and better promotions with up to three times bonus payout and simplified, express claiming option.

Additionally, solution providers can take advantage of generous rebates focused on profitable actions such as driving new business, service sales (inclusive of consulting, deployment, support and education services), training participation and access to the full range of Dell Technologies’ portfolio. The program also delivers rebates focused on driving new business, storage refresh and attaching Pro-Support Plus to storage.

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The partner program has three levels: gold, platinum and titanium. The titanium status is reserved for partners which have demonstrated unparalleled competencies and exemplary commitment to meeting the business needs of customers with Dell Technologies’ products. 

Taking charge of the channel side of the Middle East business, Vangelis Lagousakos, senior director - channel sales Middle East, Russia, Africa and Turkey at Dell Technologies explains that channel partners are integral to Dell EMC’s overall success and Dell Technologies is committed to delivering a simple, predictable and profitable partner program.

“A successful program is one that offers the means and the opportunity along with recognition, transparency and profitability to partners. It needs to enable partners to differentiate themselves by building their capabilities through different competencies and services tracks,” he adds

That said, the responsibility of empowering the channel ecosystem with training and certifications first lies with the vendor. Acquiring the right set of skills through training and certification allows partners to build stronger relationships, provide better customer service and increase profitability. Further, better skilled channel partners boost the vendor’s reach.

Dell Technologies recognises this and has made training and certification mandatory for all partners looking to join the Dell Technologies partner program. Spanning sales, technical, services and marketing, the training ensures each partner has the appropriate knowledge and skillset to meet their customers’ needs.

Partners have the option to complete different training courses, while progressing to higher tiers, based on their business models. As a partner progresses their tier, their benefits increase. Training is available across the portfolio so partners can gain expertise in areas that align to their core competencies.

As part of the evolved partner program, Dell Technologies provides simplified engagement for partners to cross-sell and procure products and solutions. In addition to this, the proof of concept (POC) program removes complexity around partner-led POCs, streamlining the approval process and enabling titanium partners to independently lead POCs at end user locations with no-cost hardware, software, pro-support and shipping.

With emerging technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence/machine learning and 5G becoming dominant across industries and business operations, Dell Technologies’ partner program also recognises related credentials/certifications earned from its strategically aligned businesses

With emerging technologies such as IoT, artificial intelligence/machine learning and 5G becoming dominant across industries and business operations, Dell Technologies’ partner program also recognises related credentials/certifications earned from its strategically aligned businesses. “We’ve built a comprehensive enablement framework to help partners own the complete portfolio from sales, pre-sales, services and support. This helps us assess together, in and off the field, the strengths and gaps they need to fill concerning a specific technology.

This may be in terms of qualifying leads to positioning the right solution, understanding the competitive landscape and learning how to handle it until closure. It is an ongoing process, which ensures continuity within the partners’ skills set,” explains Lagousakos.

According to Dell Technologies Index, 30% of organisations in the UAE and Saudi Arabia believe that lack of right skillsets to be one of the top barriers of digital transformation. It also states that 36% of organisations in the UAE and KSA have already planned their investments in AI over the next 1-3 years. While the lack of AI skills remains a challenge, these numbers indicate the growing importance of AI and the opportunities that it will create.

“Based on my interaction with our channel partners, opportunities lie in leading the market with the right technology such as, hyper-converged, hybrid cloud and flash storage solutions, which can not only modernise, but also simplify IT infrastructure. Furthermore, multi-cloud, 5G and artificial intelligence are shaping up to have a massive impact on both, the private and public sector.

We owe our success to our well-defined channel strategy and a systematic engagement model with balanced channel coverage across channel and distribution

In fact, the need to adopt AI, machine learning and analytics is steadily becoming a broad level discussion. These emerging technologies will be instrumental in helping the government and organisations deliver smart and intelligent services,” adds Lagousakos.

Businesses in the Middle East have been investing heavily in technology, supported by governments that are early adopters. The region has demonstrated a strong commitment towards the development and implementation of AI technologies. Research analysts at IDC forecast AI spending in the Middle East to reach $290 million this year, rising to $530 million by 2022.

Staying abreast of the developments in the region, in Sept 2018 Dell Technologies signed an agreement with UAE’s Ministry of Artificial Intelligence to develop skills associated with AI technologies. As part of this alliance, Dell Technologies will train 500 Emirati students under a specialised AI programme, supervised by an executive team.

“This agreement aims at bridging the skills gap in the technology sector and supporting the youth in unlocking their potential to meet the challenges of the future. We have invested an additional $100 million in start-ups focused on future tech areas like artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things and genomics through Dell Technologies Capital,” says Lagousakos.

Dell Technologies has put together an effective recruitment process to on-board the right talent that will eventually strengthen the channel network and help it grow. Prospective channel partners are given access to Dell Technologies partner program guide that helps them identify market challenges and allows the vendor to understand the partner’s needs and capabilities.

Lagousakos adds that a large number of partners are interested in joining the partner program. “We owe this to our well-defined channel strategy and a systematic engagement model with balanced channel coverage across channel and distribution.”

“Dell Technologies has become the vendor of choice for most value-added resellers and large system integrators, and a significant number of our partners are enjoying double-digit growth year on year. To put things into perspective, Dell Technologies’ server market share in the region grew from 25.7% in Q1 2018 to 36.1% in Q1 2019, as per market analyst IDC.”

Building and deploying relevant solutions is vital for partners to differentiate their capabilities in the market. Dell Technologies understands that there are numerous opportunities for partners around services and emerging technologies. The vendor has introduced new Solutions Competency offerings around IoT, high performance computing, data analytics, business applications and security.

“By completing competencies, partners can benefit from increased sales due to greater expertise with Dell Technologies’ products and solutions. We encourage partners to lead the market with our portfolio which consists of edge-to-the-core-to-the-cloud technology solutions and services,” says Lagousakos.

The next challenge for channel players is to understand where the customer stands in terms of their transformation journey and guide them in building and investing in solutions that will provide a positive outcome. But first, the channel needs to gain a better understanding of the possibilities and capabilities offered by new technologies.

“What partners usually find difficult is transitioning to new business models and developing competencies to keep pace with the demands from organisations keen on achieving digital maturity,” explains Lagousakos.

Dell Technologies brings together strong capabilities in several areas, including hybrid cloud, software-defined data centre, converged infrastructure, platform-as-a-service, data analytics, mobility and cybersecurity. Investing around $4.5 billion in research and development annually, the vendor continues its focus on addressing customer challenges, strengthening partner network and incubate high growth businesses in emerging areas.

A major focus for the company this year will be on immersive intelligence. “As virtual assistants continue to be pervasive in consumer technology, we will see machine intelligence merge with augmented and virtual reality to create truly immersive experiences. Other technologies that will lead the market are 5G and multi-cloud, wherein multi-cloud environments will drive automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning as they give organisations the ability to manage, move and process data where and when they need to,” adds Lagousakos.

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