Is the Dell Buyout Simply Buying Time on a Trip to Nowhere?

I’ve watched the history of Dell closely over the last several years. Several of the companies Dell recently acquired, principally Quest Software, are familiar names to some of my clients. I’ve also listened to several of Dell’s most recent quarterly earnings reports and supported some of the notions management presented in these meetings.

But Dell did not schedule a quarterly earnings report for the last fiscal quarter, so those periodic management presentations came to an abrupt end. I have to say, coincidentally, I also lost interest in the company. I find it hard to follow businesses with a history of missing on objectives. Recently I had to place Dell in this group.

So when I read an article in the online edition of the New York Times, on Thursday, September 12, 2013, Dell Shareholders Approve $24.9 Billion Buyout, I came away with the thought this buyout, worst case, may prove to be no more than a means of buying time on a business plan with an ambiguous objective, going nowhere.

As Michael J. De La Merced and Quentin Hardy note in this article, “Mr. Dell has not given detailed plans for how he hopes to bring his company into the modern tech world, though he has already spent $13 billion on acquisitions, primarily software and networking companies, to build a cloud business aimed primarily at small and medium-sized businesses, long a core market for Dell.” (Quoted from an article published on the New York Times website on Thursday, September 12, 2013. I’ve provided a link to the article above), I silently noted, “what else is new? After all, these acquisitions began a long time ago. Now, after over 10 years of acquiring, digesting and integrating market leading businesses into the Dell pantheon of technology offerings, it can no longer be acceptable not to have a plan of “where we’re going”.

Of most importance, regardless of whether the company operates privately, or as a public company, there is still an imperative to make money, if for no other reason than to grow the business. So we all could use a better idea about how Dell plans on replacing lost dollars from shrinking sales of PCs, laptops, servers with seats on cloud offers.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved


Marketing Communications is a Must Have Resource for Enterprise IT ISVs Planning on a Robust Marketing Plan

The “railroad tracks” between an early stage enterprise IT ISV likely to evolve, over time, and a weaker candidate, can often be identified by indications that the former possesses a:

  1. business plan, which conforms to traditional guidelines for these documents, and
  2. management team, which provides for leadership for each of the crucial functions of the business, including Marketing, Sales, Finance, and Technology. All of these functions are subordinate to the CEO

The management team need not include a dedicated human resource for each of the functions listed in pt 2) above. Usually, very early stage businesses have one or two people working closely on a clearly delineated list of functions, for each of which strategies and tactics have been formalized. Further, methods need to be available to measure actual performance against the business plan, over time. The most important point is ensuring that, in fact, the functional requirements are being met.

It is absolutely essential that Marketing Communications be included in the list of crucial functions of the business. As we have written in earlier posts to this blog, an optimum approach is to kick off market messaging from the very inception of the business, thereby ensuring that an evolving product plan has a useful and accurate “voice” that can be heard by interested parties and, as appropriate, prospects and, even later, customers. The messaging function can also be charged with establishing market place sentiment about product plans, skillfully, prior to the actual expenditure of funds on product development. It should be obvious that determining that a software notion is actually perceived by the intended market as a “solution without a problem”, before commencing development is extremely valuable for a start up business with very limited capital.

Because it is so closely entwined with product marketing, it is best to include the marketing communications function within the marketing role. Where possible, establishing a dotted line, matrix reporting line to head of sales also makes sense. In fact, when communications is broadly considered, there are aspects of this function — particularly with regard to its ability to manage direct contact with marketplace contacts through surveys, the creation of publications like case studies, success stories and white papers — that can be very useful to sales. It makes sense to grant sales the privilege of contributing to the overall management of the marketing communications effort.

If you are experiencing a disconnect between your marketing communications efforts and marketplace interest, you ought to look closely at redesigning the function to better suit your business objectives. IMB Enterprises, Inc. offers very recent experience on this topic. Our services are offered on a monthly retainer basis of $3200.00 (3 month minimum commitment). Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about how we can help you improve your return on investment in marketing communications. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved