Deb Jensen, vice-president of advanced systems for Dell Canada, sometimes asks her Canadian clients if they knew that Dell offers managed and professional services, or that it plays in the enterprise space.

Not surprisingly their answer is usually “no”.

“We are a little behind in getting our message [about Dell services] out,” said Jensen during the annual Dell analyst meeting in Austin, Texas held April 6 – 7.

That’s something she wants to remedy and very quickly by a two-pronged strategy: educating her sales force, and corporate advertising.

At least one Canadian analyst believes it’s a good approach.

Dell’s advertising has always been strong in the consumer end and said it is a natural step for the company to target the enterprise market, according to Michelle Warren, IT industry analyst with Evans Research Group in Toronto.

She noted that Dell is a strong brand name with consumers. “CIOs or purchasers of technology are consumers to. They see a Dell ad in the paper and see Dell as a solution for their business.” Given its strong presence in the Canadian market, Warren believes that Dell’s corporate advertising campaign could have quite an impact. “It [will] be interesting to see how it plays out.”

Jensen said while Dell has been in the services space for two years it was only in the past 12 months people really started to take notice.

According to Steve Meyer, vice-president services marketing for Dell, the high visibility of the company’s desktop and notebook products may have obscured its services offerings.

Warren said in positioning itself as a technology solution provider, Dell has wisely started off in an area where it is strong – providing low-cost hardware. She said the company wants to compete in segments of the services market that directly relate to hardware. Dell is looking to relate its services offerings to its competencies and strength, Warren said.

How does Dell differentiate itself as a services provider from competitors such as IBM Global services?

Meyer said there are three key differentiators: a focus on strategy portfolio services, a process management approach to services, and full accountability on all of Dell’s services.

“Our portfolio is focused around Dell systems, environments where they operate and [on] customers getting full value out of those systems,” said Meyer.

Jensen said Canadian customers using Dell services include Bombardier Recreational Services (Dell manages its support environment and help desk) and a major Canadian financial institution she would not name that Dell recently helped move from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange.

Jensen said in Canada the trend is to moving to outsourced managed services. “The customer wants to be part of the decision-making format, but does not want to own the day-to-day operations…and that is where Dell comes in.”

As well, she said that a company does not have to be a complete Dell environment to take advantage of its services. She said Dell would seek third party assistance to manage competing systems such as the one from IBM.

Jensen said she hopes customers will think of Dell has just more than a box provider but a solution provider as well.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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