Dell: Bottom line rests on Net capabilities

Integration of the Internet into everyday business is becoming more closely linked to the financial success of a company, said Dell Computer Corp. founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell Thursday during the second annual Dell DirectConnect conference.

“I want to suggest that your Internet capabilities are as important as your bottom line for your company,” Dell said during a keynote speech.

As of now, Dell suggests the business community deserves about a “C minus” grade on the integration of the Internet into their operations. Dell cited recent comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, who suggested that, in fact, technology investment by companies is closely linked to their financial health.

Dell said his company closely watches its return on invested capital (ROIC) and suggested a revision of what the acronym means. The acronym, he suggested, should be “return on infrastructure computing” — a model that he said would have a greater impact on IT businesses and their clients.

“Think of the Internet as a way to change and radically alter the way you do business,” Dell said. “The further that companies integrate the Internet into their business, the more successful they will be.”

The way that companies have incorporated the Internet into businesses has room for improvement, Dell said. Dell said that in a recent study — by the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Research in Electronic Commerce (CREC) and sponsored by Dell – concluded that 74 per cent of companies provide product information on their Web sites. But only 60 per cent offer capabilities like customization, and only 45 percent offer ways for a customer to determine an order status.

Dell also integrated his company’s push into the storage market into his speech. He said “storage can directly affect your bottom line” and further suggested that the company’s storage products, such as its PowerVault 705N, provide plenty of punch for the dollar compared to its competitor, Sun Microsystems Inc.’s comparable model.

“You need to install a scalable system that will grow with your company,” he said.

Wireless technology also can assist businesses, Dell said, emphasizing how Dell is utilizing 802.11b wireless specification to offer wireless capabilities with its products, such as its new Latitude C600 and C800 laptop models announced this week.

“Wireless is a key way that we believe that people can collaborate in the field,” Dell said. “We believe there is going to be significant growth in the future. We are already seeing a pretty aggressive acceptance of it in the workplace.”

Dell said his own company was taking his suggestions to heart and investing heavily in technology to improve its business model.

“Choosing not to integrate the Internet fully into a business will cause you to lag behind your competitors,” Dell said.

Dell, based in Round Rock, Tex., can be reached at