In India, we are hopeful that spectrum sales of 5G will happen sometime during the latter half of 2019. The 5G cellular technology, with its low-latency and high-bandwidth networks, will be the backbone for technologies like IoT and AI, says Alok Ohrie.
Dell Technologies is having a great run in India. Last year, this American tech major grew across each and every product category, whether it was the client’s business (PCs, notebooks, workstations) or Data Centre business (servers, storage, networking). “What has enabled us to serve our customers better is our continuous investment in R&D,” Alok Ohrie, president and managing director, India Commercial, Dell Technologies, tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview. Excerpts:
How have customer sentiments in India changed in the past 2-3 years with the advent of digital?
Over the last couple of years, our customers have been reimagining their businesses, thanks to the digitalisation and automation wave. Many have taken early steps in adopting technology and building their infrastructure for future consumption. We have been engaged with them in building some of these architectures and deployment plans. Our India business has delivered solid growth over the past year and we have continued to grow faster than the market.
Can you give us an update on your overall Dell Technologies business in CY18?
Last year, we grew across each and every product category, whether it is the client’s business—the PCs, notebooks, workstations, or the Data Center business which comprises servers, storage, networking and other lines of businesses we operate in. Digitalisation across industries was a key factor in driving this growth. We saw success in our engagements on the digital transformation journey across industries, including BFSI, Web-Tech, IT/ITES, etc.
Our continuous investment in R&D has helped in this. We are investing $4.5 billion in R&D annually. India is an innovation hub for Dell globally. The India R&D team stands tall, contributing 60% to overall server systems management software with grounds-up engineering of the 14th-generation servers.
What are some of the innovations from the India R&D team?
Driving innovation is a key priority across all of our R&D setups in India. India R&D is at the core of Dell’s enterprise strategy. The India R&D team now contributes towards a full cycle of innovation on Dell’s enterprise future-ready solutions: storage, server and networking. Our patents filing from India are at an all-time high, which is a great example of how we are thinking from a technology leadership perspective. Mobility and AI are becoming norms and are at the centre of our research objectives.
What are the opportunities you are looking at in the SMB and financial sectors?
Of the 51 million SMBs who contribute 46% to India’s export sector, over 70% are completely offline and 28% are connected—only 2% are digitally engaged. Therefore, our focus is to drive IT adoption among SMBs in India. SMB business segment is one of the largest revenue contributors for Dell India. The business has been growing at a strong double-digit y-o-y. We have grown our business at least 4X the market in this space.
How has Dell been involved in India’s digital journey?
We see a huge potential specifically in the government and public sector, on the back of investment being made in Digital India. We have added value through our solutions and diverse product portfolio. GST Network, for example, is built on our stack. The recent Central Board of Excise and Customs revamp of the infrastructure is on our stack. Aadhaar has a large deployment of our storage and server products. We are playing a very active role, taking a partnership-oriented approach.
India is awaiting 5G—is it going to be a game-changing opportunity for Dell?
The rollout of 5G services in India is estimated to have an impact of $1 trillion on the economy. We believe that we need to re-design and re-engineer technologies built with a cloud-native core, to drive the networks and their architecture. Without basic infrastructure foundation, such as standard servers, open application programming interface (APIs), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) technologies, 5G cannot take off. Telecom providers will need to adopt an “intelligence-first” approach to managing core networks and look at real-time analytics as an important business investment.
What are the game-changing tech trends you foresee in 2019?
I believe 5G and Gen Z to be the top game-changers in 2019. Introduction of 5G devices will allow for faster, easier, uninterrupted communication and we will, for the first time welcome the Gen Z population into the work force. The Gen Z are digital natives—comfortable with technology and are looking for efficient and smarter ways of working as well as living. Their mindset and lack of exposure to legacy systems will bring with it a focus on innovation, flexibility and openness. In India, we are hopeful that spectrum sales of 5G will happen sometime during the latter half of 2019. The 5G cellular technology, with its low-latency and high-bandwidth networks, will be the backbone for technologies like IoT and AI.
What are your views on data localisation and India’s moves in this regard?
Any country would like to have its own ways of looking at privacy, security and to some extent even data localisation. So from that perspective, data localisation is something that was a logical step from a Digital India overarching campaign point of view. We recognise India’s concerns with emphasis on privacy and security. We are one of the biggest players when it comes to storage solutions with cutting-edge technology and information management systems. So to that extent, it is a great opportunity.