Dell (Finally?) Sets Up Shop In Kenya – And Their Plans Going Forward
Dell is one of those storied technology companies you just have to admire. It was started by its Founder Michael Dell back in 1984 from his University Dorm room with just US$ 1,000.00 assembling basic Personal Computers (PCs) using stock parts. After receiving a injection of US$ 300,000.00 from his family, Dell grew his nascent business to generate almost US$ 80 Million in its first year of trading. Dell more or less perfected the process of selling customised computers at low cost using a just in time approach and delivering direct to customers with no intermediaries. The rest you could say is history.
Over the past decade or so, Dell as a company has weathered tough times as computers became highly commoditized and margins were massively squeezed. As a result, Dell went on a massive buying spree acquiring companies and expanding its services offerings for enterprises. These efforts are paying off as Dell now has a huge services business beyond its core computer business for the enterprise, small business and home user. However, this has not been that apparent in Kenya to-date, until last week that is.
I attended an event where Dell announced the opening for its very first Kenya office that will serve the East African region with a team of 6 people initially. The media briefing was very enlightening in that Dell which I had previously seen as largely a server and personal computer business in Kenya has actually been doing big deals in the region for its enterprise offerings. More specifically, they have done major end-to-end enterprise deployments at the Kenya Airports Authority, Liquid Telecom, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Kenya Airways and KENGEN. In addition, Kenya was one of the first markets globally where they launched their brand new Dell Venue 8 Pro tablets showing just how keen they are on Kenya and the rest of Africa.
In my opinion, Dell seems to be a little late to the party where major technology players are concerned in Kenya and East Africa. Indeed the likes of HP, SAP, Google, Microsoft, CISCO and IBM have had offices here for over a decade in most cases and are doing loads of business with the biggest private and public sector players. The real challenge for Dell and the very reason I see them being in Kenya is to target big business and to a large extent this will be in the integration and services space, as well as the enterprise cloud – they are going to be fighting very big boys on various fronts. It does not hurt that Dell was recently re-privatized by Michael Dell back at the helm now for a number of years meaning they can make big bets globally without the scrutiny of being publicly listed.
Going forward, several things came out from last week’s Dell launch and their plans for Kenya and the broader African region. The first is that Kenya is seen as one of their three priority in markets that include Nigeria and South Africa. The second is that Dell wants to offer end-to-end technologies in Kenya, from the desktop to the enterprise data centre. Thirdly Dell sees itself as having no legacy offerings and as a result can be very open and scalable for the needs of today’s African enterprise – whether its systems management, security, hardware, software, data management and business intelligence. Dell also wants to drive specialisation in Kenya, in terms of consulting capabilities – not just hardware as it’s no longer about manufacturing – it’s about innovation hubs more than anything and Kenya is at the forefront of this emerging trend in Africa.