As I prepared to head to the geek-fest that is Dell EMC World I wrote a blog talking about the fact that I was interested to see how the emotional "threads" felt (it's here), at least as much as the "fabric" of the story and products. After all, much of the logic of the two companies becoming one is easy enough to figure—and there's myriad reports of the gradual but multiple portfolio manifestations of the communion (which will indeed be discussed in an ESG On Location summary and insights video that we expect to post in the next few days).
The details of what happened and what was announced are easy enough to get. But how did it feel? What attitudes and expectations were on display?
Before I give my take on those questions, let me be clear on a couple of the caveats:
- First, I spend much of my time and focus with the "EMC Classic" and/or "Dell Enterprise" folks, who, despite some product overlaps in the portfolio, can fairly be represented as more insulated than most from some of the machinations of integration (though there has been some limited "streamlining" where there were blatant overlaps, and one might expect more to happen over time as the less-pressing overlaps make it to the top of the priority list).
- Second, let's face it: You don't typically get a bunch of the most disgruntled customers turning up at any user events...there's no protest placards and no hecklers because the attendees have given time and money to be there. But all that said, both end-users and employees alike can use verbal cues and physical gestures (intentionally or not!) to convey how they really feel.
So what did I find? I guess I would characterize it as vibrant-cautious-optimism; my inclusion of the word "cautious" might well be me editorializing, since we all know that history shows us that mega acquisitions and mergers are really hard to pull off well. While I got plenty of genuine enthusiasm—with positive examples and expectations from both end-users and employees (with no "'nudge-nudge, wink-wink, see me later and I'll tell you the real truth")—any negatives were expressed as concerns rather than things that had actually happened. To give one example of each, I spoke to a few end-users (from the high-end EMC stable) that were harboring fears that they might lose some of the high-end service to which they were accustomed (not that they had experienced it yet); meantime, from the employee side, there was some grudging acceptance that despite managing a product range making a boat-load of money and margin, the finances will still be studied very—how shall we say!?—assiduously by people with sharp pencils (not that it had impacted them much yet).
Indeed overall, and including insights from people (again both end-users and employees) whom I have known pretty well and for a long time, the conversation invariably—and mostly—was about the upside. And those good feelings alone provide a basis to feel good about this massive endeavor. After all, there have to be exceptions that prove the rule!
Watch out for ESG's further analysis from my colleagues, both in blogs and in the ESG On Location video that will hit a multiplex near you (or at least the ESG website!) later this week.