Can Dell Reinvent Itself?

I received an interesting email from Michael Dell yesterday evening detailing Dell’s ongoing relationship with Integrated Advisor Solutions. We’ve been a Preferred Provider for Dell for many years, so we’ve always had somewhat of an inside track into the company’s roadmap – one recently littered with disparate acquisitions as the profit margins on hardware sales have crumbled. After reading today’s note, I can’t help but wonder how Dell is going to thrive in the coming future.

As I wrote in Cloud Computing and RIAs, the IT world is changing pretty rapidly. And although we serve as a technology consultant for many investment advisory firms, our role has already begun to shift from a pure on-site network management position to that of a systems integrator, reflecting the recent embrace of cloud-based platforms within the investment advisory community.

Returning to yesterday’s email, in it Dell touts the company’s market share leadership in x86 servers (who uses x86 anything anymore?) while planting the idea that the company will become more of a platform-based systems and data provider. While this announcement didn’t really surprise us, what is surprising is the amount of time it took for Dell to read the writing on the wall – and that is trying to survive primarily off of hardware sales is a surefire way to find yourself six feet under in today’s world of technology. The problem Dell will have moving forward is that as of right now, the big three weathermakers in enterprise cloud platforms – Amazon, Google, and Microsoft – all have extremely rich service offerings that have set the proverbial “bar” quite high for any provider trying to break into that segment of the market.

In over 20 years of technology consulting, we have witnessed how time has become existing technology’s worst enemy because time waits for no one. Tech firms can either use time wisely or foolishly. While Dell has rested comfortably on its hardware business, other companies have already spent the time and resources necessary to ascend the cloud platform learning curve – 10 years ago. These companies have emerged with very solid, enterprise-grade offerings that may, in the end, prove to be insurmountable to Dell if the company actually intends to try to compete mono y mono.

Bringing this discussion back to your advisory business model, mistakes made in technology investments can prove quite costly. And the degree of complexity in today’s tech-centered world is unprecedented. We serve as forward-looking technologists who help our clients navigate uncharted waters, often choosing to make conservative investments in technology while liberally exploiting technological advancements. It’s a role we take quite seriously and one which has earned us countless referrals. If you would like to initiate a conversation regarding the many ways IAS can become an asset to your firm, simply reach out to us today!