Dell Technologies: Bringing the Cloud to the Ground
The case tells the story of Dell Technologies and its efforts to revitalize its value proposition and escape a commodity trap by acquiring EMC for $67 billion-the largest tech acquisition in history. It also shows the deeply intertwined connections between a company's business strategy and its go-to-market operations. Michael Dell founded Dell Inc. in 1984 to assemble PCs. The company quickly became the market share leader by the end of the century. By 2008 (before the recession), Dell had expanded into servers, networking and storage, as well as services. Still, the hardware market was beginning to commoditize, with the trend accelerating after the recession. EMC, founded in 1979, had a similar story. It became the dominant player in data storage through early 2000 only to find that new technologies and nimble competitors were putting its business under severe commodity pressure by the turn of the century. Thus in 2015, when Dell made a $67 billion acquisition of EMC, many knowledgeable IT industry observers found it hard to comprehend the logic of two commodity/hardware players coming together. By then, most enterprises, large and small, were eyeing digital transformation. Cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud seemed to be serving their needs. Thus Michael Dell had to carefully construct a strategic position for the newly constituted Dell company in the rapidly evolving IT market space. In addition, Dell and EMC also had to decide how to merge their Go-to-Market operations to gain the synergies promised by the merger. Dell had over 365,000 customers and EMC nearly 430,000. Dell had 17,000 salespeople and EMC, 7,000. Each had over 10,000 channel partners. Adding a wrinkle to the merger was a third actor, VMware, an independently listed cloud software company, 80% owned by the new Dell Technologies entity. Integrating their software capability would be an exciting opportunity and a challenge.