High investments in back-end IT to push Digital India, Smart Cities: Ajay Kaul of Dell EMC

Ajay Kaul, Director & GM - Head Government Business, Dell EMC
Ajay Kaul, Director & GM - Head Government Business, Dell EMC

“To support Digital India initiative and develop 100 smart cities, the Indian government has invested heavily in strengthening its back-end IT that has led technology to touch the lives of most citizens of the country,” says Ajay Kaul, Director & GM – Head Government Business, Dell EMC. The US multinational tech major have invested a combined $12.7billion in R&D over the last three years, resulting in tech leadership, innovation and a market-leading portfolio of high-end technologies, solutions and services. In a conversation with Ankush Kumar, Kaul talks about the current focus of the company with respect to the channel strategy, data centre and storage market. He also shares how government has become a crucial business vertical for IT companies.

How do you evaluate digital transformation and its impact over the years?

This is a time of unprecedented change. Today’s digital transformation represents the arrival of a Fourth Industrial Revolution – one that is fundamentally altering the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Previous industrial eras were driven by steam, coal and electricity. This one is driven by data. It is ruthlessly redrawing the business landscape and reinventing our future. The Internet of Everything, an intelligent interconnected living network, pulsing with data and processing power, populated with digital devices, appliances and people, will transform the way every business in every industry operates & citizen centric experience will be the key.

Has there been any major changes in the company’s enterprise business model after the merger?

Dell Technologies is a unique family of businesses (including Boomi, Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and Vmware) that provides the essential infrastructure for organizations to build their digital future, transform IT and protect their most important asset — information. With the industry’s most comprehensive and innovative portfolio cloud solutions, we help enterprises at various stages of digital transformation, across key areas of IT transformation, Workforce transformation and Security transformation.

A customer might have a requirement, combining one, two or all these tenets. To address their requirements and to minimize change in their account relationships and interface, we have realigned our business model and the structure of the organization. The realignment empowers us to help further increase the momentum of meeting and exceeding the demands of the market while providing a superior customer engagement experience.

What has been the channel partner strategy?

With the formation of Dell EMC, it was important for us to build a partner program from the ground up while preserving the best of two existing world-class programs. Our ‘Unified Dell EMC Partner Program’ addresses the needs of partners today and into the future.

The channel will play a key role in extending Dell EMC reach across the country and cross-sell various offerings as per customer needs. As system integrators, partners look forward to leveraging & maximizing our stack across compute, storage, end point devices, network, security, virtualization, cloud Infra & management, etc. for optimized & scalable architecture, quicker implementation & worry free post sale support.

Developed in collaboration with partners globally, the program’s primary facets are to be simple, predictable and profitable. The program elevates Dell EMC partners over competitors and establishes a clear path to level-up. The new program’s tiers in India include authorized, titanium, platinum and gold. Benefits to solution provider partners include generous rebates focused on profitable behaviors such as driving new business; service sales inclusive of consulting, deployment, support and education services; training participation and selling the full solutions portfolio. As a partner progresses their tier, their benefits increase.

How do you see the data center market in India? What is the USP of your solution for this market?

India is a significant market for Dell EMC and are seeing increased investments across verticals. According to Gartner, India IT spending is forecast to reach $72.4 billion in 2017, a 6.9 percent increase from 2016. Our solutions portfolio enables our enterprise customers’ digital transformation’s three tenets. From an IT transformation perspective, our solutions portfolio enables our enterprise customers’ digital transformation through our trusted hybrid cloud and big-data solutions, built upon a modern data centre infrastructure that incorporates industry-leading converged infrastructure, servers, storage, and cyber security technologies.

From a security transformation point of view, our security solutions deliver business-driven security so organizations of all sizes can take command of their evolving security posture in an uncertain, high-risk world.

From a workforce transformation point of view, we have branded hardware, such as desktop PCs, notebooks and tablets, and branded peripherals, such as monitors, printers and projectors, as well as third-party software and peripherals. In all, we have the end-to-end solutions portfolio that can address every requirement of the customer and position us as the leaders in the IT market in India.

Today, Dell EMC is seen as a trusted advisor to customers and partners as we provide strategic guidance, technology expertise and outstanding execution – to drive business outcomes quickly and efficiently for enterprises of all sizes.

How much is your focus on data protection market? What is driving the growth of this market?

Proliferation of numerous devices has increased the number of end points that need to be protected by an organization from security breaches. As per Deloitte in its TMT predictions for 2017, Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, a form of cyber attack, will become larger in scale, harder to mitigate (increasing the severity of impact), and more frequent. While DDoS has been just one type of cyber attack, organizations encounter many more forms.

Considering the reality where organizations rely heavily to learn from data collected from every touchpoint in real time – vital to meeting customer expectations, it becomes extremely important for them to protect their data from falling into the wrong hands. To address these concerns, our solutions portfolio has strong capabilities in securing customer’s data across the organization’s business units while simplifying regulatory compliance and enabling them to enjoy flexible management capabilities. It also enables them to reduce total cost of ownership.

With so much of tech innovation happening, how will be the next generation storage and servers look like?

Dell EMC has been recognized by Gartner for leadership in 15 Gartner Magic Quadrants as well as the market share leader in key areas identified by IDC, including PCs, storage, converged infrastructure, servers, virtualization and cloud. We provide businesses access to an expanded market with the industry’s broadest portfolio, leveraging EMC’s leadership in research and development & innovation and Dell’s world-class supply chain operations.

The combination of Dell and EMC will be better equipped to meet the demands of the customers in India as a unique family of businesses that provides the infrastructure to build a digital future, transform IT and protect information and a market leader in the technology industry’s fastest growing sectors including hybrid cloud, software-defined data center, converged infrastructure, data analytics, mobility and cyber security.

Dell EMC is now a company with greater synergies across our portfolio and can offer customers and partners the agility and speed that are fundamentally important in today’s economy. The businesses within Dell Technologies share a common vision and pursue collective goals which enables us to solve complex customer problems with integrated solution offerings. With our solution offerings, we believe we can serve our customers better in this new era by providing the essential infrastructure for digital business and IT transformation.

Tell us about the company’s expansion and investment plans for the next two years?

Innovation is at the core of Dell Technologies. To continue innovation, which can maximize the benefits of technological advancements such as IoT, AI, VR, AR, it is important to have aggressive investments in R&D. Dell and EMC have invested a combined $12.7billion in R&D over the last three years, resulting in tech leadership, innovation and a market-leading portfolio of best-of-breed technologies, solutions and services ranging from the core to the edge to the cloud leading to 21,000 plus patents & patent applications. As Michael Dell has stated publicly, Dell Technologies will spend $4.5 billion on R&D per year going forward.

As many IT companies have seen huge busness opportunities in government sales, how do you see the demand for IT solutions in the past five years from the government side?

Over the last five years, we have seen a shift in focus by the Government of India in terms of implementation of technology. The government has been investing in technology solutions in order to provide better governance to citizens. For instance, today, we all know how UIDAI has impacted every citizen’s day to day lives. With a vision to empower residents of India with a unique identity and a digital platform to authenticate anytime from anywhere, UIDAI has led to driving innovation and provide a platform for public and private agencies to develop Aadhaar linked digital applications.

Similarly, Digital India initiative and development of 100 smart cities in India has further led to technology to touch the lives of citizens of India. To support such vision and initiatives, the government has invested heavily in strengthening its back-end IT. This is further validated by analysts’ reports which highlight the consistent increase in spending on IT by the Government of India.

What were the challenges earlier while dealing with the government? What kind of issues are still bothering the IT companies?

Technology adoption in the Government sector was lagging compared to enterprises. There were many factors involved which led to a delay in the adoption and implementation of technology. However, over the last few years, we have seen a significant interest to adopt technology to provide better governance to citizens. Today, industry leaders have much higher and highly effective engagement levels with various central and state government bodies. There is higher interest and speed in the implementation of new technologies to provide better governance.

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