Dell polishes 'Secret Service' offerings

Summary:With its Platinum Plus package, the direct PC champ seeks a higher profile and a larger slice of the pie for its services offerings. New to the menu: a personal tech guru, benchmarking data centre performance and a Google Earth mashup.

With its Platinum Plus package, the direct PC champ seeks a higher profile and a larger slice of the pie for its services offerings. New to the menu: a personal tech guru, benchmarking data centre performance and a Google Earth mashup.

Available on Dell's new dual-core Xeon PowerEdge servers plus its EMC-based storage systems, Platinum Plus is the new top-shelf service and support plan for one of the fastest-growing business segments -- even if it's one which doesn't often find its way into the spotlight.

"Dell Services isn't as well known as I would like," admits Tim Griffin, the company's regional director of Services Sales & Marketing, speaking this week in Singapore during Dell's regional launch of its latest servers.

"But it's a very substantial organisation tracking to around US$5 billion in annual revenue and around 30 percent growth. If it was rated in its own right, the services business would be [a] Fortune 500 company. It'd be right up there with the Starbucks of this world."

In those terms, then, the new Platinum Plus would be like having a personal barista twenty-four-seven, monitoring all of your caffeine levels, and the promise of your next Grande Latte never being more than a few minutes away.

"You get a dedicated tech, a named individual who's able to help you learn your environment and manage that at all time," says Griffin. "There's also Operational Performance Benchmarking to help you focus on measurement and improvements to critical IT metrics, both within your company and against benchmarks from other companies in the same sector."

But the real eye candy is the use of Google Earth Pro to provide real-time tracking of all service and support activities affecting your company via an Enterprise Command Centre, which taps into Dell's own five worldwide command centres.

"Customers can drill down to the location of global sites, see current dispatches and zoom in for the detailed status of each job," says Griffin.

Griffin cites the Asia-Pacific and Japan regions to which this service has just been launched as the fastest growing market for Dell Services, saying it now delivers "the highest proportion of services revenue to overall revenue worldwide".

Jacqueline Heng, Research Director for IT Services with Gartner Singapore, says that Dell has "found its niche within services by embracing their core competency, which is basically providing hardware infrastructure".

Even allowing for the clever Google Earth mashup, Heng believes that on the whole, most service companies are "providing the same service", and Dell's knack is to play the same trump card which built the company from the ground up through its PC division.

"What Dell has done is to package and brand their services to their large customers in a way which is very clever marketing. It's like a credit card with different levels of service -- silver and gold and platinum -- and what you will offer to those top tier customers."

However, Heng stresses that the keeping their customers happy could prove a challenge for Dell as their services division continues to grow. "Customer experience is the most important thing here. You can push out continuous twenty-four-seven services with a 100 percent service experience each time when you have a smaller or cosier number of customers, but Dell will need to work hard to sustain this as they grow bigger and take on more accounts. Management of systems can go out of control if you use too many partners and have not enough full-time staff on the ground."

David Flynn travelled to Singapore as a guest of Dell.

Topics: Dell, Google

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