Dell Technologies is placing a premium on predictability with an enhanced partner program anchored around consistency, resisting the temptation of a radical redesign in the pursuit of channel profitability.
With simplification the order of the day, the rules of ecosystem engagement in 2023 are aligned to an increased focus on as-a-service and streamlined experience levels, in addition to rewarding global excellence and incentivising sustainable practices.
The updates represent a continuation of foundations previously laid and emphasise that in such a fast-paced and ever-changing market -- hampered by economic uncertainty, geopolitical tensions and inflationary pressures -- consistency is underrated in the channel.
“We are maintaining the consistency of our program because that is what partners value,” said Tian Beng Ng, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Channels across Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) at Dell. “Yes, we continue to make enhancements but we have kept the program as consistent as possible.
“Some vendors completely redesign their programs every one or two years and partners struggle with the chaos and confusion that causes. Our approach is to be more predictable.”
Dell’s commitment to consistency comes amid growing but turbulent market trading conditions, with worldwide IT spending projected to total $4.5 trillion in 2023, representing an increase of 2.4 per cent from 2022.
According to Gartner, this is down from the previous quarter’s forecast of 5.1 per cent growth. While inflation continues to erode consumer purchasing power and drive device spending down, overall enterprise IT spending is expected to remain strong.
“Consumers and enterprises are facing very different economic realities,” said John-David Lovelock, Vice President Analyst at Gartner. “While inflation is devastating consumer markets, contributing to layoffs at B2C companies, enterprises continue to increase spending on digital business initiatives despite the world economic slowdown.
“A turbulent economy has changed the context of business decisions and can cause CIOs to become more hesitant, delay decisions or reorder priorities. We’ve seen this in action with the reshuffling taking place among some B2B companies, especially those that over-invested in growth. However, IT budgets are not driving these shifts, and IT spending remains recession-proof.”
Notably for the channel, the software and IT services segments are projected to grow 9.3 per cent and 5.5 per cent in 2023, respectively.
Within that context, the IT services demand is heightening as companies look to bring in outside IT staff for implementation and support. For example, spending on consulting is expected to reach $264.9 billion in 2023, a 6.7 per cent increase from the previous 12 months.
“We have four core priorities in 2023, starting with growing our core business focused on storage, servers and PCs,” Tian Beng stated.
“Secondly, we are ramping up new opportunities in areas such as edge computing, artificial intelligence and cyber security which will continue to accelerate. They might not currently represent the biggest mix compared to our core business but they represent the future and we will create specific ways for partners to capitalise.”
Thirdly, Dell is prioritising improving partner experience levels centred around investment in the vendor’s technology stack, as well as process redesign, simplification of policies and support models.
“Finally, we are increasing our efforts in the sustainability space -- this is a big focus area in the months ahead,” Tian Beng added.
All-in on APEX
In assessing the nuts and bolts of the 2023 Dell Technologies Partner Program, plans are in place to accelerate the momentum of the vendor’s APEX portfolio while continuing to expand the services opportunities via the channel.
This is evident through a consolidated product category and simplified incentive structure, introducing a “single and harmonised” APEX+ category for all incentive-eligible APEX solutions -- including APEX Flex on Demand in addition to and APEX outcome-based offers. Rebates and earned MDF now apply across the full category for eligible partners.
“APEX continues to be a big priority and we have essentially combined the two flavours of APEX,” Tian Beng explained. “We initially wanted to see how the offerings landed in market and we’re now in a position to unify and simplify under one APEX structure.”
Within this context, the channel can also deploy select APEX solutions “on their own terms” with the launch of partner deployment. In essence, partners can use existing Service Delivery Competencies to gain more control over APEX deployment options and expand value-added specialty services.
“Allowing partners a place to play and offer their own services is very important,” Tian Beng said. “The feedback has been that yes, consumption is great but there’s little room for partners to offer their own services. Hence our commitment in this space.”
Supporting such enhancements is an APEX competency designed to help the ecosystem learn the portfolio and get up-to-speed on the technical elements of as-a-service delivery, with all metal tiered partners eligible for base rebates on APEX+ offerings.
This is in addition to a strengthened APEX portfolio and Services deployment competency training, with Dell rolling out persona-based training to help partners “ramp faster”.
The three tracks span Foundation (for those new in career), Develop (for those who are new to Dell) and Technical (for those looking to develop their skills).
The new program structure also includes a Global tier path, unlocking increased capabilities in Program Tracker and Incentives Center -- providing additional insights, analytics and a simplified experience to manage across the global businesses for global tiered partners.
Partners that operate across multiple geographic locations and/or in multiple sales motions can now also benefit from the Global tier path, allowing all their Solution Provider, OEM and Cloud Service Provider (CSP) accounts to hold one globally recognised tier in the program, with global incentive eligibility.
“Partners want to be treated the same in multiple markets, it’s that simple,” Tian Beng added. “For partners who are big players in their home country, we want to emulate that experience across all markets they operate in as they scale.
“If you look at the ongoing trends of consolidation and acquisition in the channel, this level of consistency is required more and more, whether it be the large Japan-based system integrators coming into Asia, or vice versa.”
Other updates kicking into gear include a streamlined structure which is now fully operational -- including one tier structure, one incentive structure and one set of requirements. The aim is to allow partners the opportunity to select the best route to market for their business and customers, without compromising their earning potential.
“This is better for the partner experience meaning that if a partner only operates as a CSP or an OEM, they will be rewarded as long as they commit to Dell in whichever route to market that they choose,” Tian Beng said.
“Likewise, for partners who operate across multiple routes to market and previously had Titanium status in resell but Gold status in CSP, they will be provided one tier.”
To support ongoing sustainability efforts, Dell is also offering a seven per cent rebate for Asset Recovery Services, which helps customers "responsibly and securely" retire legacy IT equipment.
Aligned to the vendor’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) priorities, Asset Recovery Services is available for partners for client and server products of any brand and complements the existing Tech Refresh and Data Sanitation and Data Destruction for Enterprise Services programs.
“A lot of partners talk about sustainability but the progress hasn’t been there,” Tian Beng acknowledged. “But a seven per cent rebate represents an attractive and effective proposition for the channel.”