Michael Dell: There's been astonishing progress, but there's more to do

The company's chief told ZDNet the tech industry needs to use its creative energy to push forward with innovation, while simultaneously improving its environmental footprint.

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Image: Dell Technologies

According to Michael Dell, one of the biggest challenges for the tech industry going forward will be balancing invention with a more sustainable environmental impact.

Speaking with ZDNet about his company's decade-long plan to improve its global social impact, the CEO and founder said while it's important to have great products and services, it's equally as important to have people that are inspired to do good.

"I think a successful company is one that is able to do all these things together," he said. "I think it's a responsibility and an opportunity that we have … we're doing these things voluntarily and I think more and more companies are adopting and going to adopt similar kinds of initiatives."

See also: Dell Tech Summit: Want to help the environment? Start with your company culture (TechRepublic)

Noting that half of the workforce are now considered "millennials", Dell labelled it inspiring that lots of young people were focused on doing good and using their creative energies and talents to solve some big challenges.

"We're a company that can join in the fun and help address some of these big challenges that are out there … and I think in the process become a more attractive place to bring talent in, and allow us to thrive," he said.

"It'd be a missed opportunity if we didn't do these things."

The chief said his engineers have been quite motivated by the whole idea because they're not just tasked with making things, rather, they're making things that they believe are better for the world.

"That's going to be challenging and it can't cost any more because nobody is telling us they're willing to pay more, so we have to use all of our creative energy to invent things that create the same outcome, but with a better environmental footprint, whether it's in packaging or energy consumption or materials," he told ZDNet.

Delivering his keynote at Dell Technologies Summit in Austin earlier on Tuesday, Dell said technology has never been more accessible, saying it is more connected and powerful than before. 

He said while progress has been "quite frankly incredible", when looking at factors such as life expectancies, infant mortality, vaccinations, basic health care, kids in school literacy, economic growth, and the reduction in poverty, there's more that can be done.

"There's been astonishing progress, but there's always more to do," he said.

"As we are rapidly rushing forward to a connected and intelligent world, with 5G coming around the corner and artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, and neural networks, we can do more now that we ever have imagined."

Dell labelled this work as being a generational opportunity, saying he believes it is the most important work his company can be doing.

"It represents a generational opportunity, in a broad sense, a generational opportunity to create value for our team or team members, for our customers, and for our communities; a generational opportunity to continue to lead our company with ethics and integrity; a generational of opportunity to make a positive impact on the world," he said.

"Now, a sustainable successful company has to deliver on multiple fronts and our interests are aligned with a broad set of stakeholders. And when we get this right, we also have a generational opportunity to build a successful company that delivers value, not measured in quarters, but measured in decades.

"That's our time horizon. I'm proud of the last 35 years -- we've accomplished a lot -- but I'm focused on the next 35 years. If you fall short in any of those areas, you fall short in all of those."

Asha Barbaschow travelled to Dell Technologies Summit as a guest of Dell Technologies.

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