Dell: Meeting the needs of SMBs through unique, customized technology

The head of Dell's SMB division talks about growth opportunities and challenges for small- and medium-sized businesses in a changing global economy.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

Small- and medium-sized business face unique obstacles, challenges and even opportunities every day. And that means that their needs are different - some are eyeing the cloud for their technology growth needs while others still aren't comfortable stepping away from on-premise hardware.

At the California Tech Retreat Endeavor conference at Stanford University today, Erik Dithmer, Dell's general manager and senior VP for Small- and Medium-sized businesses division, hosted a panel to talk about how small businesses around the world are using technology to grow on a global scale.

It's an interesting time for SMB's, Dithmer said. Coming out of a recession that stalled investments in technology, many of these smaller businesses - roughly those with 500 employees or less - are recognizing that an investment in technology, whether that's infrastructure or services, can help a company maintain a competitive advantage.

But which way to go? "There are many different ways for them to get there," Dithmer said. "That's the beauty of it."

Everyone is looking at "the cloud," he said. But what exactly does that mean, given that "cloud" is such a buzzword that encompasses everything from Web-based email to virtualized appliances.

Dithmer said his company's approach these days - reflective of the new business models that have evolved out of modern-day technology - is to look at each customer's unique needs. "They almost have too many choices," Dithmer said.

Gone are the days when a company like Dell might have pre-determined offerings for businesses of various sizes. When a customer comes calling, asking about storage infrastructure, for example, Dell isn't just offering a quote. Dell is asking them a list of questions - what is the network like, which business apps are they running, which mobile and handheld devices are being used by employees? Dithmer said:

We want to listen to where they're going. SMBs have a unique way of looking at business... The models have changed dramatically.

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