No. 17: Dell, Talking about evolution
With founder's return, Dell focuses on customers as needs change
- By Nora Macaluso
- May 12, 2007
The watchword for Dell Inc. in the federal market this year is deepening customer relationships.
"We have a strong foundation in the federal marketplace, and we're enhancing that," said Troy West, vice president and general manager of the computer maker's federal division. The Round Rock, Texas, company is working to evolve with customers as their needs change.
The company's priorities include partnerships and customer communication, he said.
Dell is No. 17 on the Top 100, with $1.4 billion in prime government services revenue for fiscal 2006.
The company's reorganization, marked by the return earlier this year of founder Michael Dell to the position of chief executive officer, is helping drive the focus on customers, West said. "His return is really re-energizing the entire company."
There have also been management changes at the company's federal division, including Jere Carroll as head of the advanced systems group, Ray McDuffie in strategic programs and Max Peterson as area vice president of civilian business.
"These are all strong leaders who will bring great expertise to the Dell team and to our customers," West said.
Federal customers are concerned with modernizing theirsystems and complying with ever-changing regulations, while at the same time keeping costs down, West said. Dell is helping them do that by working on its own or with partners to help
determine individual needs.
Environmental initiatives, such as the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, are a key concern for customers, West said. Dell, which helped develop the EPEAT standards, has been recognized for its efforts by the federal government and the Green Electronics Council.
The company offers a range of products compatible with EPEAT, which requires that a percentage of government organizations' electronics purchases be environmentally friendly. The company says these products can also help lower the cost of technology through energy savings. Large data centers, according to Dell, can save more than $1 million a year on operational expenses by using the company's PowerEdge servers.
The company also offers online energy calculators to help customers estimate the power required to run their information technology operations.
"We're very focused on fostering our direct model through partners to deepen customer relationships," West said. The company recently partnered with EMC Corp. to revamp the storage system at the Justice Department's Drug Enforcement Administration. "Dell and EMC consultants spent time at the data center to learn more about their current operations" and determine how to make the system more efficient, he said.
New products are helping military customers meet their IT needs in the field and at home, West said. Dell's recently announced Latitude all-terrain laptop PC is an example of the company's focus on customer-driven technology, he said. The computer was designed to function under extreme conditions including intense vibration, humidity and altitude, and it has a bright display for easy viewing in sunlight.
Dell makes similar ruggedized equipment for Army field use, West said. The company's Army work also includes data consolidation projects at U.S. bases and Central Command.
In addition to developing new products, "we've also focused on enhancing our support capabilities for our federal customers," he said. Dell created a customer care team specifically for them. That, he said, has led to an improvement in response time ? it now takes about 30 seconds for a customer to reach an agent, down from 15 minutes previously ? and a better record on first-time resolution of post-sales issues. "We're seeing great improvement in terms of responsiveness."
Dell is continuing to solicit feedback from customers using tools such as Direct2Dell, an online blog, and StudioDell, a Web site that provides information in video and podcast form, West said.
Dell views partnerships with large and small businesses as key to its success. "Having the right alliance partners in place allows us to create innovative technological solutions for our federal customers," he said.
Dell is working to strengthen relationships with customers, both through direct account sales and through small-business initiatives. In many cases, "customers can benefit from leveraging our unique expertise" and "best-in-class small businesses," he said. A small-business program allows partner companies to work on federal contracts, he added.
Significant awards for Dell during the past 12 months include two Army contracts that could be worth $5 billion apiece in three years, West said. One covers desktop and laptop computers under the Army's IT Enterprise Solutions-2H program, and the other is for servers, storage and services.
Dell is also helping military families by providing work-at-home jobs to spouses and donating refurbished computers so families can keep in touch with service members deployed overseas.Profiles of the Top 20 companies in the 2007 Top 100
No. 1: Lockheed Martin's reinvention
No. 2: With SBInet, Boeing IDS takes flight
No. 3: Northrop Grumman rises to new challenges
No. 4: KBR gets down to business
No. 5: IPO catapults SAIC into a new era
No. 6: Raytheon strives for balance
No. 7: General Dynamics in full sprint
No. 8: Fluor's ready in a pinch
No. 9: L-3 leadership stays the course
No. 10 EDS, Hard-learned lesson
No. 11 CSC, Experience that counts
No. 12: Battelle seeks new frontiers
No. 13: Booz Allen, Quality over quantity
No. 14: Bechtel telecom makes a splash
No. 15: For BAE, persistence pays off
No. 16: ITT makes a push into new markets
No. 17: Dell, Talking about evolution
No. 18: Technology and service fuel IBM
No. 19: Verizon caps off a busy year with a big win
No. 20: United Technologies gains altitude