Dell Software may only be one-and-a-half years old but there’s no doubt that it’s a rising star in the largely hardware-centric business.
The sub-brand emerged early last year and employs about 100 sales and support staff in Australia and New Zealand – a mere 10% of Dell’s overall ANZ headcount.
Dell intends eventually to drop the “software” sub-brand, by which time the business hopes to be known as an end-to-end solution provider, encompassing hardware, software, and services.
That means changes are afoot for the hardware guys who have spent years, maybe even decades, selling PCs and data centre boxes to big businesses.
Dell Software executives say – diplomatically – that it’s nice to be working in the favoured division.
“If you look at margin per employee, it inherently tends to be much higher in a software company than in a hardware company,” Dell Software Australia managing director Ian Hodge told Business Insider.
Hodge said there were no major redundancy programs planned, but he had been meeting staff one-on-one, asking: “What do you want to do with your career?”
“I think Dell started that transformation [into an end-to-end business] before we [Dell Software] came along,” he said. “When there was recruitment, they were trying to recruit people with exposure to end-to-end businesses.
“You can achieve a fair bit through attrition. 10% is a typical number [across the industry].
“There’s no feeling or aura of [fear that] there are going to be redundancies. I think the focus has been grow the software business, grow the services business and the net numbers will work out so that jobs will be preserved.”
Hodge said he had been interviewing software and hardware sales staff for an upcoming exchange program intended to give them a wider perspective of the overall Dell business.
“We’re looking at a couple of things at the moment – just experimental things like should we take staff from Dell Software and put them into Dell’s traditional business or take a Dell traditional rep and put them in our business so we give them exposure,” he said.
“Some people are more flexible and more adaptable than others so we’d take some of the early adopters and give them the chance to perform in the new world, if you like.”
Dell Software is also likely to be restructured in the coming year.
The division is an amalgamation of 7 or 8 software businesses that Dell bought in the past 2.5 years to counter shrinking hardware revenues.
Hodge, who joined through Dell’s acquisition of IT management vendor Quest Software last July, said many of those businesses were still operating independently.
“A lot of the time when you crunch together two companies, back-office functions disappear and things like that,” he told Business Insider. “We haven’t done that yet.
“I can imagine if we’ve got software sales reps from Quest selling security and software sales reps from SonicWall selling security, at some point we’d need to change the structure so we’d have one person talking to customers about security and telling the whole story.
“We haven’t done that yet; we’re just trying to keep the businesses focused on what they do well.”
He said any changes – “not momentous changes … really fine tuning” – would likely kick off next financial year.
The changes will include Dell rolling out a single finance and sales force platform across all Dell Software businesses, with Dell eventually running a total of two platforms: one for software and one for hardware.
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