1. Investment in R&D going to be $4.5 billion this year: Dell EMC India’s Alok Ohrie

Investment in R&D going to be $4.5 billion this year: Dell EMC India’s Alok Ohrie

President and Managing Director, India Commercial, Dell EMC, Alok Ohrie gives a peek into how sheer size can disrupt IT infrastructure and the opportunity that India's JAM (Jan Dhan, aadhaarand mobile) is throwing up.

Updated: October 4, 2017 1:29 PM
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Last year, Dell Technologies acquired EMC Corporation, forming the world’s largest privately owned tech company and creating a family of businesses that provide the essential infrastructure for organisations to build their digital future. Now, Dell EMC is a behemoth with an expansive tech portfolio addressing complex problems for customers in the areas of hybrid cloud, software-defined data centre, converged infrastructure, data analytics, cybersecurity, among others. President and Managing Director, India Commercial, Dell EMC, Alok Ohrie in an interview with Moinak Mitra gives a peek into how sheer size can disrupt IT infrastructure and the opportunity that India’s JAM (Jan Dhan, aadhaarand mobile) is throwing up. Excerpts:

You have completed one year of the Dell-EMC merger. How do you see the new entity’s role in transforming the evolving digital ecosystem?
Everything around us is getting digitised. Many people call this the fourth industrial revolution. It is changing the way we interact with each other, the way we live and the way we work. It is impacting the businesses as well. People call it digital disruption. So businesses have to transform. Not transforming is not an option. If you are not going to transform as a business, not get aligned to the changing environment, you may face extinction. And clearly, many of them are taking a note of this. Having said that, we see our role in this as one of a catalyst who will help customers and the ecosystem transform very quickly.

How do you catalyze the ecosystem?
It is about the experience. It is also about being smarter. It is also about being connected. For instance, with driverless cars, the product has become smarter. That product has now got connected with the rest of the ecosystem to be able to figure out which road to take, which turn to take. The business has changed. And it has also started collaborating. It is collaborating with the GPS system. It is collaborating with the traffic management system in a city. It is eventually going to collaborate with the company that manufactured the product to make sure that the product is in a good condition. Likewise, in a services business – education, banking services, healthcare, anything.

Clearly, smartness, connectivity and collaboration are the three pillars of the new economy. What do businesses need to do?
These businesses need to have a blueprint of their digital transformation plan and journey. That is where our ability to provide solutions comes in. Most of the companies have over the last two decades seen a dilution of capability to build software or code software because in the last two decades, there have been an amazing number of new packages that are generic in nature brought about by various software companies. Whether it is ERP, supply chain, transformation software, HR applications, you will find enough and more packages. They have standardized and in many ways provided a very comprehensive way of managing a particular process. But because there was no need for coding, there was no need for new software development by the businesses. In the new world, however, there is a very high need for companies to have a mechanism to be able to write codes that are cloud native. All of these new-age services are coming in the cloud.

How is Dell EMC taking advantage of this transformation?
What the merger of these two organisations (Dell and EMC) has done is to clearly bringing in a family. Within the family, there is a company called ‘Pivotal’, which helps the customers deploy new-age methodologies of software development. It is a much faster way of implementing the newer applications on the cloud. And it clearly provides that servicing capability that exists in most of the businesses. Besides, in the IT transformation of businesses, you will find an amazing number of products that the combined company has on offer. In storage, our servers allow for VMWare virtualization because of the cloud. In security, EMC brings in Secure Works. This is an integrated organization with an end-to-end product portfolio to help customers go through their transformation journey. We call it end point (product)-to-core (data centre)-to-cloud (virtualization).

In that case, how much is the combined organization pumping into R&D?
Investments that our company is making in R&D is probably the highest in the industry. This year, R&D investment is going to be $4.5 billion. This money is being spent on creating products that will help our customers go through the transformation and be able to adopt new ways of doing things.

How do you see digital India throw up opportunities to grow for a player of your size?
In India, there is increased activity around the trinity of Jan Dhan, aadhaar and mobile (JAM). We like to call IT infrastructure the bread of the JAM. That’s another area that we are excited about. The government is really working hard to get the economy become a lot more cashless. With the GST coming in, a lot of this will translate into digital infrastructure demand going up. So IT infrastructure demand will go up in India. We are investing in some of these areas by putting in additional resources.

We are seeing some closures and we have been fortunate enough to win a couple of deals. There are many more in the pipeline. So I am quite optimistic about the future.

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