Opinion: A bit of a Lark

Opinion: A bit of a Lark

It is not often that I get to talk to Dell – let alone lunch with one the company’s top executives.

As a channel-focussed publication, our relationship with the direct-selling vendor can be best described as slightly wary.

We tend to give them a wide berth for not using the channel and for competing with our readers, and in return they do not usually share their grand schemes with us.

And generally their response to any channel-related query is: “No comment”.

Therefore, when the opportunity came up to represent stablemate CIO magazine and dine with Andy Lark, Dell’s global vice-president of marketing and communications, I could not resist.

The fact that the lunch was at Peter Gordon’s Dine restaurant held some sway of course, but what really attracted me is that Lark is one of New Zealand’s top exports to the global technology industry.

Lark, an Auckland-native now based at Dell’s Houston HQ, was refreshing for a high-ranking executive.

While he certainly did not shy away from the standard PR/marketing-centric rhetoric most overseas executives subject journalists to, Lark’s affable delivery forgave him a few such sins.

His relaxed attitude was probably largely due to his Kiwi background and the fact that he was back on home turf.

Nevertheless, Lark revealed little that would be of strategic importance to the local channel, apart from saying Dell will focus on virtualisation, mobility and IP-SANs for growth.

There was however, one very interesting titbit, which local resellers, and other vendors, should certainly take note of.

While talking about IdeaStorm, an online brainstorming forum where Dell invites feedback and ideas from customers and employees, Lark said the company has created a similar portal for partners.

Called ChannelStorm, the portal would in effect give the company’s fledgling base of channel partners a forum where they could directly influence how the company works with its resellers.

Dell uses the feedback from IdeaStorm to improve its service, and in some instances to direct product development (For example, it started offering Linux-based laptops as a result of suggestions on the site).

If it applies the same concept to its dealings with resellers, Dell could soon develop a very responsive channel programme that may be the envy of many a rival.

Yet, not even lunching with Dell’s PR boss helped me gain more details about ChannelStorm, or what it means for resellers here.

A request for information from Dell locally was met with the familiar response: “Dell ANZ hasn’t made any announcements regarding the channel in Australia or New Zealand. We are unable to comment at this time.”

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