Australian customers upbeat on Dell going private

'It's agility,' says Australian National University CIO Peter Nikoletatos

Dell customers check out the vendor's new tablets and ultrabooks in Melbourne.

Dell customers check out the vendor's new tablets and ultrabooks in Melbourne.

Customers at the Dell Enterprise Forum in Melbourne said they are pleased that the vendor has gone private.

Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell and investment partner Silver Lake completed their deal to buy out the company for US$24.9 billion late last month. Michael Dell, who now owns 75 per cent, has said that going private will remove pressure of answering to shareholders and give leaders more flexibility in decision making.

“It’s great, at least in the medium to longer term,” Queensland Brain Institute IT manager, Jake Carroll, told Computerworld Australia at the Dell event.

To support its neuroscience research, QBI requires the latest and best technology, he said. Going private will enable Dell to move as quickly as QBI needs it to, he said.

“I need a company that’s really quite agile,” Carroll said. “I need [the vendor] to move with the technology that I need to push. So if a crazy new scientific interest comes along, I need crazy new technology to encompass it.”

Carroll added that he needs a vendor that will work closely with QBI to provide the right support. “Privatisation helps in that respect.”

While he was largely satisfied with Dell before the company went private, Carroll said “there was a bit of a one-size-fits-all thing about it.”

“I think they are changing that.”

The MyChemist / Chemist Warehouse Group is a privately owned company that knows from experience that being private enables a company to move quickly, said its CIO Jules Cardinale.

“The reason that we’re private is that we want to move quickly,” he said.

The Dell privatisation seems likely to benefit customers such as MyChemist, “especially considering that the impetus behind it is to drive more into the enterprise space,” he said.

Dell’s privatisation will enable the vendor to bring products to the Australian market faster than it had in the past, said Australian National University CIO Peter Nikoletatos. “It’s agility.”

The CIO said he hopes the change means Dell will bring its intellectual property into Australia faster.

“Dell acquired a lot of things in the US that have made their way slowly to Australia,” he said. “I think that’s going to change.”

In a morning keynote at the Melbourne forum, Dell vice president for Australia and New Zealand, Joe Kremer, said the move to private would give the vendor the “passion and energy” of a technology startup.

In a Q&A afterward with journalists, Kremer said the changes may not be immediately apparent but there is much excitement about the long-term benefits.

“It’s early days, but the level of energy and excitement that you see in Michael [Dell] personally is fantastic. When you own 75 per cent, decision making happens very, very rapidly.”

“Things that in the past might have happened reasonably quickly now happen blindingly fast.”

Dell will be able to make long-term investments that don’t have to pay off in the 90-day financial quarter, said Phil Davis, vice president of the enterprise solutions group for Asia-Pacific and Japan. And it will be able to respond more quickly to new trends and markets, he said.

“The average Australian customer won’t see much of that in the near-term because it’s by definition long term. Over time, what customers will see is speed of decision making.”

Davis said the transaction is “very unique” because the founder of the company owns 75 per cent, Davis told us.

Other companies that have gone private and where that was not the case have focused on cost cutting and minimising investment, he said.

“When you’ve got a founder whose name’s on the Board, it’s a completely different mindset.”

Adam Bender travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Dell.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

Tags DellprivateDell Enterprise ForumPrivatizationAustraliacustomersprivatisation

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