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Thu 12 Apr 2007 11:24 AM

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Customer focused

Dell 2.0 looked to be on shaky ground following the resignation of former CEO Kevin Rollins. However, news that the vendor has opened a support centre in Dubai seems to show 2.0 is still central to its strategy. IT Weekly assesses its impact on the region.

When Dell parted company with CEO Kevin Rollins in January this year, it was widely seen as a condemnation of the ‘Dell 2.0' strategy he had advocated a few months before. While Rollins said Dell 2.0 would focus on service improvements and a greater reach into emerging markets, many industry watchers felt his departure suggested the strategy was more hype than substance.

This month however saw the computer giant deliver some real substance on Dell 2.0, with the firm announcing it is stepping up its customer services in the Middle East by investing US$5million in a regional support centre in Jebel Ali, Dubai.

Nicky Hartery, Dell EMEA's vice president of manufacturing and business operations, told
IT Weekly

that the investment in the centre is part of a wider US$200million spend that Dell has committed to globally as part of Dell 2.0.

"Dell 2.0 is very much billed around improving the customer experience," Hartery said. "We have been working very diligently on that over the past year and have significantly improved the customer experience and response to customers in EMEA - and globally for that matter."

"It is also about rolling out the key programmes that have executed really well for Dell over the years to all regions," he added.

The Jebel Ali facility will be linked to Dell's logistical support network in Europe and will support smaller in-country centres in Riyadh, Jeddah, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Turkey.

Dell will use the logistics and spare parts facility to offer a range of premium services to customers, Hartery said.

The aim is to provide "services that are equal to the services that we provide to our customers in Europe", Hartery said.

While Dell will continue to work closely with partners Emirates Computers and Key Information Technology in providing services, the firm will now be able to engage more directly with large business customers in the region.

The facility will also be linked to Dell's wider network of enterprise support centres, located globally. Customers will be able to select from a range of service levels, with Platinum Plus customers being offered a designated technical account manager, onsite rapid response and escalation management services.

Which does rather raise the question as to just why Dell did not offer such services here in the region before?

"Our partners have provided this service in the past; what we need to do is invest jointly with our partners to provide this service," Hartery said, adding that the centre is based on programmes that Dell simply did not have before globally.

"The enterprise command centre, the fast responses capability to solve customer issues, all of that we developed in the past one to two years, so now that it is settled we can take it to a region like the Middle East and be very confident of its capabilities and of its execution," he stated.

Dell is using both regional partners and international partners - such as carrier UPS - to deliver the programme, making it tried and tested, Hartery claimed.

"This is not something that we're going to learn as we go along, many computer companies launch [such services programmes] and learn as they go along," he said. "We should not be learning in the Middle East."

The extra capability will allow Dell to ramp up its business in the region, Hartery said, although he stressed that Dell has been outperforming the regional market for growth anyway.

However, the centre will give Dell "significant energy", Hartery claimed, allowing it to considerably speed up delivery for customers. While Dell can build a system to order for customers in 24 to 48 hours, that advantage is lost if it has to be shipped in from overseas; the logistical hub will cut down delivery times dramatically.

However, we will have to wait before we see Dell invest in a regional manufacturing facility, Hartery said. "There are many other things that we need to do ahead of that," he stated.

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