Fourteen thousand attendees along with 300 press from 129 countries ready to attend over 400 sessions greeted Michael Dell as he kicked off the first ever Dell Technologies World event.
He told his audience that “this moment has been 34 years in the making” but the really exciting stuff is ahead of us.
For a company that leads the world in Server and Storage shipments, the keynote speech dedicated very little time to product. Gone are the days where companies like Dell celebrate and idolise a new lump of metal and circuitry to fanfare and fireworks. Michael from Dell preferred instead to focus on what he terms the four pillars of transformation. For Dell, the four critical areas are Digital, IT, Workplace and Security Transformation.
The CEO explained that they chose to name the event Dell Technologies World (rather than for example Dell EMC world) because they wanted to showcase the seven market leading companies that make up the total Dell Technologies proposition. According to Michael from Dell, these seven companies cover every aspect of the four pillars of transformation and they partner with their customers to help them to accelerate this transformation.
The realise 2030 survey that Dell conducted showed that 45% of businesses are worried about becoming obsolete, 82% confirmed they need to become software defined in the same period. Michael told the audience “They need to innovate at speed” and Dell Technologies is positioning to help them do this.
A significant portion of the keynote was spent explaining just how important data is becoming for all businesses. Michael Pointed out that Dell is well qualified to comment on data as they store and protect more data than literally any other company. “Data” Michael told us “Is becoming more important than the application” he also reminded us that data is the key ingredient behind AI and Machine Learning powered applications.
As he deftly put it “If AI is your rocket ship then Data is the rocket fuel”.
As we listened to his message, we start to see jigsaw fall into place. No doubt that Dell Technologies is an infrastructure company, but they house the “rocket fuel” and with companies like Pivotal and VMware provide that power to innovate at speed.
Over the course of this event, we can expect to hear much in the way of product related announcements, but this keynote was about vision. Michael and his team see their place has evolved beyond that of technology provider. With digital transformation, he explained that “Us technical nerds” are now in the centre of the business discussion. He sees higher purpose for Dell with technology being used to make human existence better tomorrow than it is today. It’s a big vision, but difficult to argue against given how data is now key to driving so many aspects of human experience.
Perhaps most telling in Dell’s belief that their purpose is using transformation to improve the world was the way they chose to recognise and pay tribute to their own customers. As Michael from Dell, himself said “he is constantly inspired by the customers he speaks to”.
At the end of the keynote, Michael presented a number of trailblazer and innovator awards to customers that have partnered with Dell to achieve truly amazing results that are literally affecting lives today. From indoor farming which has the potential to transform food production and preserve water at the same time to fighting drug cartels, the focus was not technology but on data driven outcomes.
In that respect, it is fitting that the final “case” that Dell presented in the keynote was on a project called Bravemind being pioneered at the University of Southern California where clinical psychologists have worked with Dell to create an Augmented reality treatment for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
They use controlled Virtual Reality in a protective. Environment monitored by medical professionals to reimburse veterans into the war zones memories that are the cause of their depression. The outcomes are very positive, with many vets hugely benefitting from the program. Humans and machines in partnership working for the greater good. Albert “Skip” Rizzo was pleasantly shocked when Michael Dell told him on stage that Dell Technologies are donating a grant of $100,000 to assist with continued research.
Michael Dell acknowledged the “nay sayers” who predict AI. Induced human doom, but he told us he is an optimist pointing programs like Bravemind as the bright future he sees in our transformed future.
It may sound slightly “out there” but in our opinion its very real, these technologies that are transforming outcomes will become a common place for even the smallest companies over the next few years. Appropriate then, that the theme for this event as Michael reminded us in his conclusion is to “make it real”, the challenge now is exactly that. Make the vision a reality downstream. Over the next few days we will find out more about how Dell Technologies intend to do just that.