Dell Makes it a Private Affair – 6 Steps it Must Take

If you build it (right) they will come

If you build it (right) they will come

Well, Dell’s gone and done it. It’s been rumored for a little while now that Dell was in talks to take the company public and it’s become official. Anyone interested now waits and sees what becomes of it.

I understand – and at the same time don’t understand – why companies go public. Sometimes you’re even seemingly forced to go public – sort of. Going public means more capital. It can mean more favorable loan rates, etc. – all to make a company more capable of doing acquisitions, etc. At the same time, it means being held accountable by Wall Street, which itself – in the public eye – is largely unaccountable for anything. It means answering to a Wall Street that prefers short-term profit growth over long term innovation. And on, and on.

CNET chimed in with commentary on Dell’s privatization. The article discusses Dell probably needing to be like Apple. It discusses Dell’s revenue and its diversification attempts beyond the PC. And on, and on. The end of the article closes with what Dell should really be concerned with.

“More than anything, Dell needs to start innovating, whether it’s in PCs, mobile devices, or enterprise offerings. If there’s anything Michael Dell should have learned from Jobs and Apple, it’s this: It’s not enough to simply build me-too products.”

Innovation for tech companies remains king. Not too long ago it seemed that the minute you bought a PC it was outdated by new hardware just a few months later. Today, that is no longer a popular perception and so people seemingly hold on to their computers longer than before. And some are now doing it to purchase other gadgets – the latest smartphone or tablet, for example. But the PC “box” can be changed. Dell does need to innovate more than anything now and waiting on improved hardware or software to do so would be a mistake.

  1. Innovate: Design new desktops and laptops that redefine what a desktop and laptop are.
  2. Position: ensure these new innovations carve out a key leading role in the market and that position should be to redefine the desktop and laptop.
  3. Public Relations: do proper PR to ensure the new position. It’s not going to be enough to carve a position that evolves the PC. It must redefine it and PR must be the foundation to reposition Dell’s innovation.
  4. Marketing: every marketing effort should leverage PR results to reinforce the new position. Anything else is a gimmick. Companies often make the mistake of marketing what isn’t set in stone by PR in an effort to promote it to success. Steer clear of this and instead reinforce clearly established positions. It’s almost impossible to make the consumer think 15 different good things about you with marketing (i.e., advertising, events, etc.).
  5. Reevaluate: Constantly reevaluate your innovations to ensure they continue to out-innovate others and adjust your PR and marketing efforts accordingly. Be prepared to adjust at a moment’s notice.
  6. Repeat: not just repeat the innovation through the reevaluation steps but, repeat the formula across your other products, be it business services or something else.

Dell will likely continue to feel pressure to do more from the investors involved in the buyout. But, I have to believe these investors understand Dell needs to put effort into innovation now over short-term profits. I’m cheering for Dell because I cheer for innovation and consumer choice. To see Dell go out of business would be a loss for consumers.