Dell: The Most Consistent Channel Leadership?
How's this for ironic: Cisco Systems (CSCO), IBM, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Microsoft (MSFT) and Oracle (ORCL) have each undergone channel leadership evolutions over the past year or so. Meanwhile, Dell Channel Chief Greg Davis has quietly led the "direct" company's channel strategy since 2007. And if you check his track record, Davis has consistently pushed Dell's partner program forward while some "channel-friendly" rivals have wavered on their partner commitments. Here's the scorecard.
1. Cisco: Bruce Klein succeeded Keith Goodwin back in August 2012. Cisco remains a very channel-friendly company. It's hard to argue with the networking company's overall channel track record, but Cisco in recent years has chased some "hot" opportunities (Flip video camera, Cius tablet, etc.) that wound up burning the company.
2. IBM: CEO Virginia Rometty shifted Mark Hennessy into the Channel Chief slot in early 2012. IBM remains very strong in such areas as business analytics. And the company's recent SoftLayer acquisition looks very promising, especially for partners that want Amazon alternatives. But IBM has also tried to sell off its x86 server business, according to multiple trade reports. That chatter has made some infrastructure partners nervous.
3. HP: CEO Meg Whitman has stabilized the company, but there have been multiple executive defections. Earlier this week, Oracle hired HP veteran Rich Geraffo as its new global channel chief. HP partners over the past year have also complained about enterprise channel conflict. Whitman took the complaints seriously, and shifted Sue Barsamian into the new post of senior VP, worldwide indirect sales.
4. Microsoft: Phil Sorgen succeeded John Roskill as channel chief, effective Sept. 1, 2013. Roskill was a strong channel chief who pushed hard for Microsoft to introduce channel-friendly cloud and mobile partner programs. But exiting CEO Steve Ballmer didn't move fast enough with partners multiple times. Now, it's up to Sorgen and Ballmer's eventual successor to show a channel-first commitment for Office 365, Windows Azure, Surface tablets and more.
5. Oracle: The company's engineered systems and Oracle Cloud have caught on with many partners. But former Channel Chief Judson Althoff jumped to Microsoft in early 2013. Earlier this week, Oracle hired HP veteran Rich Geraffo as Althoff's global successor. President Mark Hurd has been channel-focused at Oracle OpenWorld and during private partner gatherings. Next up: It would be great to see CEO Larry Ellison show the channel some more love as well.
6. Dell: No doubt, 2013 has been a difficult year for Dell. The company battled some shareholders in a bid to take Dell private. That bid has finally succeeded. Dell has also suffered as the PC market shifted to tablets and smart phones, and the company's data center strategy (involving networking, storage, servers and management software) hasn't set the world on fire.
Read the Fine Print
But here's the twist: Dell Channel Chief Greg Davis has shown consistent leadership and delivered consistent messaging to partners since 2007. Even Michael Dell has gotten into the act, calling on partners to hear what else they need from Dell's data center push.
Dell has also hired some key channel lieutenants — including Juniper and IBM veteran Frank Vitagliano.
The overall result: Dell's channel business has consistently grown faster than the overall channel market.
Dell ain't perfect. But the company's partner program always seems to be improving through consistent leadership…