Dell to cherry-pick Canadian talent in expansion plan

TORONTO — The CEO of Dell Inc. believes that burgeoning international markets like India and China could mean the exodus of top Canadian executives to those countries who would be called upon to help steer their growth.


don’t know what the number will be, but I will take every one that I can get,” said Kevin Rollins, who was in Toronto Tuesday for a press briefing.

“We will need talent, experienced talent, that we’ll export to all parts of the world. One of the things we look to Canada for is to take seasoned managers and have them go to these parts of the world.”

He estimated that it could be 10 to 20 senior Dell Canada managers over a period of the next few years. Dell’s American and European operations – basically anywhere where Dell has an established foothold – could farm out some of their executives overseas as well, said Rollins.

The flip side of such an arrangement would mean tapping the talent pool that nations like India offer, he added. “We believe that if we’re going to develop in countries all over the world . . . we need to put resources in those countries to build there economies.”

The Chinese and Indian economies are growing much faster than U.S. and Canada, he said, and talent is emerging from those countries just as rapidly. If Dell goes where the resources are, some North American jobs may be threatened.

But Dell is also investing in Canada, said Rollins. The company has opened call centres in Ottawa and Edmonton over the past year. “Our acts would suggest we feel pretty strongly about Canada as a location for our teams,” he said, adding that a healthy business environment, favourable exchange rate and educated workforce make Canada an attractive place for Dell to open facilities.

Rollins’s overall plan for Dell is to grow revenues from $49 billion to $80 billion over a period of three to five years. To accomplish this, the company has turned its attention to three areas outside its core PC business: services; storage and networking; and printing and imaging. The latter is growing the fastest out of the gate, said Rollins, reaching a $1 billion run rate in five quarters.

Dell’s unprecedented PC growth set the bar very high, he said, and may have placed unreasonable expectations around future growth. “It’s a big challenge to keep the engine running smoothly.”

The company’s expansion into new realms is designed to boost its profile beyond its desktop fare, but its move into the service market “is a bit iconoclastic, like everything else Dell has done,” said Rollins. The company’s basic services strategy is still focused on hardware: “it’s a wrapper, if you will” that adds incremental opportunities onto initial equipment sales.

The company also offers managed services – which Rollins said is growing the fastest of its services offerings – as well as professional services for application and operating system migration projects and basic deployment services.

Another plan for the company is to remain consistently engaged in multiple markets and sectors like small and medium-sized business, corporate accounts and health care.

The latter is a challenge, said Rollins: technology companies are often wrong-headed in their approach to health-care providers.

“We’re starting to see the health-care sector say we’re not the IT experts, we’re the health-care experts,” said Linda Weaver, the chief technology officer for Smart Systems for Health Agency, who sat in on Rollins’s press conference.

Most tools are “designed from a technology basis, not necessarily for what a clinician might be needing. They don’t want to fuss about a network, they just want to have it. That’s why most of the Canadian provinces are focused on just getting the basics in place.”

The biggest issue facing IT and health care is standardization, she said. Rollins added that the technology is there and ready and once it can be deployed using common standards, health care organizations will be able to exploit its potential more fully. Customized IT deployments in health care may stem from the desire we all have for customized treatment, he said. But “in order to get something to scale, you can’t build a million customized solutions.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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