• Paul Fingleton

Dell EMC Forum: An interview with Aisling Keegan, VP and GM of Dell EMC Commercial Ireland

Transformation. That is the key message that Dell EMC brought to attendees of their Dell EMC Forum in Dublin's Convention Centre. The world will be going through a digital transformation, an IT transformation and a workforce transformation as businesses seek to remain relevant in the digital age and attract and retain top talent, while being smart in using the latest in technologies.

Who would be better than Dell to talk about the theme of transformation? A year ago this week, Dell and EMC joined forces in the largest merger in corporate history. The two behemoths of the technology industry became one just three years after Dell itself already transformed from a publicly traded company to being privately owned.

It is almost impossible to list all of the areas in the world of technology that Dell EMC are involved in. From the PC, which is still key to the industry, to Internet of Things, Storage, Security and beyond Dell Technologies has at least one solution available to the market.

We sat down with Aisling Keegan, Vice President and General Manager of Dell EMC Commercial Ireland, to talk a little about the journey that the technology giant has been on over the last few years and into the future.


Thank you for the time today. From the keynote this morning, "Transformation" was a phrase that stood out, loud and clear. Dell EMC is a great example of transformation after the completion of the merger this time last year. How have you found the journey as a company and personally?

It has been a great year, prior to beginning as a new Company on 7. September, I have been fortunate to work as Chief Integration Officer for the UK and Ireland. I was responsible that once we went live that it went smoothly and in terms of business performance we have had a strong year. In terms of customers, we issued a survey to customers to ask them how we were doing in terms of Account Management, Services and Support, Technical, Configurations, Architecture and had significant half-on-half improvements, demonstrating that customers believe that we are doing is right for them.

From an Employee perspective, we have been through the largest IT combination in the history of the marketplace so far. The challenges of bringing two cultures together can often be underestimated. Our employees were surveyed anonymously to see how they think it's going, do you think we have the leadership required, do you feel that we are creating the team winning environment for everybody are we collaborating across all different functions and coming together as teams.

We issue this survey every year, around the same time. Employees can respond anonymously and This year we saw significant improvement of how engaged our employees are in the NewCo and how successful they thought the environment and culture was as a new company.

The indicators from a Business, a Customer and an Employee perspective all appear very, very positive. I would say that I have found it a privilege to be in a leadership position within the company at this juncture in time. It is fraught with opportunity.

"Disruption" was another term present during the various sessions today, we see how Dell EMC and Dell Technologies are integrated into the industry and are uniquely positioned in many markets. How do you see that Dell might avoid becoming too big to notice somebody coming to disrupt your markets?

There are a couple of things in your question and I think the first you are referring to is our scale.

We are two large IT companies coming together and we like to describe ourselves as "Big, Small and Open".

Big, because we can scale like a global powerhouse.

Small, remember our roots: Michael Dell, Entrepreneur, innovating and looking at ways to differentiate ourselves. So we can innovate like a startup. In the last three years there have been as $12billion investment in our Research and Development, with a commitment for another $4billion+ in R&D and innovation annually. This is more than our competitors combined.

This focus and intensity on innovation to always keep the engine running means that we will hope to never be left behind.

The other part of your question is about disruption: Howard Elias at our Keynote this morning said that the pace and rate of change now [across our industry] is going to be slower than it is in the future.

We need to make sure that we remain relevant in this digital transformation and I think as we have come through our own digital, IT and Workforce transformation it has helped us to listen to our customers, looking at the industry because it changes so quickly. I think it was the CEO of General Electric said 'You go to bed as an industrial company and wake up as a software and analytics company the next day'. You need to look at your own industry and see how you can differentiate yourself and we are very good at that.

Certainly. Also, the fact that Dell is not a publicly traded company has given Dell an extra confidence in trying something new.

As a privately owned company, you don't have the same expectation of reporting results to Wall Street and that has given us huge flexibility and agility that other companies might not have the luxury of enjoying. It has also given us the ability to focus on the medium-to-long term rather than the short-term, quarterly focus. The decisions we can make are usually in the best interest of the long-term good for our customers, our people and our business.

You don't have to make a headline announcement every quarter.

Exactly, exactly we invest for the long haul.

Dell has been in Ireland about 27 years now, since 1990. With three years to go to your thirtieth anniversary, what would be your 2020 vision for Dell in Ireland?

We are one of the largest employers in Ireland [with almost 5,000 employees]. Ireland, from a Dell EMC perspective is seen as a strategic global hub for our company.

Across our three different campuses we have our Dublin Campus focusing on services, sales and financial services through Dell Bank - completely regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Our manufacturing, supply chain and our centre of excellence is at our Cork campus. We then have some of our emerging technologies, solutions centres and proof of concept labs at our Limerick facilities. We are one of two IoT [Internet of Things] labs in EMEA in Limerick also.

Some of these competencies and capabilities thtat we bring in Ireland, for such a small island, help us get the support of Dell EMC to be seen as a global, strategic hub for innovation.

Our vision for 2020, it's a responsibility for us and our organisation is to make sure that we continuously invest in raising our competencies and increasing those up the value chain to remain at the cutting edge. We need to invest skills and in IP across the board to ensure that we are continuously building this brand of innovation.

One of the reasons that Dell and other multinationals located in Ireland in the nineties was the readily available, skilled technical workforce. Over recent years, much has been made of the erosion of these skills and the need to address the engagement of students in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] subjects. How can Dell and others assist in raising this engagement?

We have a huge part to play. We have a wide range of programs that we use ourselves to engage with students and educators. Our "Cradle to Grave" program where we work with bodies and institutions to build curriculum not only for junior but also with secondary schools students around technology.

We partner with third level universities as part of their internship and graduate placement programs. We have quite an aggressive target to reach 30% of our workforce to be graduates, not only from engineering backgrounds, by 2020 and from an Ireland perspective we are on track with that.

We believe that the millennials are our next generation leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs and add great diversity to our business and will yield better business outcomes.

We want to be sure that we are working with second and third level educators to ensure and helping them where there are skills gaps that they can educate those they are influencing.

There has also been a lot of focus on encouraging girls more into the STEM areas.

We do also specifically focus on girls, particularly at secondary level, called "IT is not just for geeks" where we come out to the school and educate the young female students [although we also go to mixed schools] that they can have a career in technology without being pigeonholed into "A", "B" or "C".

Thank you very much for your time.

Thank you.