‘Dell can run global businesses out of India’

Adith Charlie Mumbai | Updated on March 23, 2015 Published on March 23, 2015

Amit Midha, President, Dell Asia-Pacific, and Chairman, Dell Global EmergingMarkets

The $62-billion Dell expects India to play a pivotal role in its journey of transforming from a hardware vendor to a solutions provider. In the third quarter, India revenue grew by over 50 per cent for the technology major, making it the company’s third largest market after the US and China. Dell, which has been privately held since 2013, seems to be making the right noises to further strengthen its tentacles here. The company will double its retail footprint to have 800 exclusive stores across the country by next year to sell personal computers, tablets and other devices. The company, which already has a manufacturing base near Chennai, has also submitted a proposal under the Centre’s ‘Make in India’ programme. “We are extremely bullish on India…we can run global businesses out of here,” said Amit Midha, President, Dell Asia-Pacific, and Chairman, Dell Global Emerging Markets. In a free wheeling chat, Midha shares his thoughts on the way forward. Edited excerpts.

Dell is the midst of transforming itself from a PC-maker to a solutions provider. Is this transition finding resonance in the marketplace and are the old perceptions changing?

Transformation is a journey. It’s not something that happens overnight. People’s perception generally lags reality and so you have to stay at it. I think we can safely say that we will be perceived as a best-in-class solutions company in 2-3 years. Has that perception already begun to change? The answer is yes.

How’s the emerging trend of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) affecting Dell’s PC sales in India, considering that technology refresh cycles at enterprises are expected to slow down.

Look, this is a huge opportunity for us from an infrastructure perspective. If employees are bringing their own devices to the enterprise, it’s imperative that these devices be securitised and managed appropriately. You have to make sure that nothing that you do with your device at home infiltrates into the corporate network. That is where Virtual Desktop Infrastructure comes into the picture. Increasingly, companies are changing their architecture to re-orient it for the cloud. All these are huge opportunities for us. In addition, we are rolling at cool-looking devices that can be carried to the workplace. PCs are very much relevant even today. They may not be growing as fast as before but business PCs are doing well in many parts of the world. Also, new form factors such as tablets, convertibles and others are growing.

Is Dell participating in the Central government’s ‘Make in India’ programme?

Yes, we have made a proposal under this programme. We looked at things such as duty structure, some of the state-versus-central points, specific legal frameworks and other issues that are putting unnecessary burden on companies like us.

We also talked about some of the export incentives that other countries offer. When Dell builds a factory, it’s not just for the local market but also for overseas exports. We wanted to emphasise that there’s a lot more that Dell can do in India but there is an ecosystem that needs to come along.

What do you make of the recent Union budget? Did it help in changing India’s perception as an investment destination?

At the outset, I can say that there is a huge shift in the perception of India as an investment destination. However, the dominant headline in the country is ‘show me the proof points’.

Though, the sentiment is improving, we need some action on the ground. The Budget was a good proof point in the right direction.

We should now see faster decision making, more investments and employment generation. Some of our proposals did not make it to Budget and we are following up on that. Overall, the mood is optimistic and we are bullish on India.

Dell currently employs about 27,000 people in India, about 23,000 of whom are associated with the company’s services business. Will Dell expand its employee base here?

Dell has been a big beneficiary of India’s talent pool. We will continue to invest and hire. We can run global businesses out of India. However, the moot point is the availability of talent, especially in smaller cities.

We can be present in as many cities but we need indigenous talent and not necessarily people moving in from Delhi or Mumbai.

The talent model needs to be more specialised in areas such as healthcare, security and big data. We are discussing this with some private institutions as public universities have limitations in tweaking their curriculum to our exact needs.

Published on March 23, 2015
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