EMC World 2012: Transform and Prosper

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Het is niet hald hot mama!

We were somewhere around the Venetian, on the edge of the desert, when the conference began to take hold.

It was a Sunday afternoon and while the customers were slowly arriving and flopping poolside with a frozen Margarita, the hard working members of the EMC channel were gathered in the bowels of the counterfeit representation of Venice, in Las Vegas.

Something seemed wrong here as usually it is the channel that is round the pool after a long night with “prospects” and the more sedentary customers who attend the early conference sessions, especially on a Sunday. As the Sabbath is a sacred day for 18 holes, a steam and some cold brewskis at the 19th!

As I looked around the room for sore heads or golfing attire, I found a different scene and a different vibe with fresh faced, clean shaven crews in matching corporate conference gear: Company Polos with Chinos. They were tapping their feet to the “Transformers” house band that was setting the rhythm for EMC World 2012.

Was this more Letterman than Las Vegas, I thought? So many memories of Comdex past, CES and other vendor partner conferences in Vegas flooded back to me. Would this be a ninja like training camp where the ferocious reputation and skills of the EMC direct team would be passed down to their new channel padwans?

Would I have to tear my shirt off and run screaming out of the hall that “I want it” to show my new masters how committed I was to my new vendor partner? I simply didn’t have a reference point for EMC because a few years ago I just simply would not be doing business with them and they just didn’t do channel, it wasn’t in their DNA.

Perhaps this was why the Venetian ball room was the picture of a well behaved set of consummate channel professionals. Were they afraid that the scheduled pool party for the evening be a heroic drinkathon test before a punishing set of early morning briefing sessions, with only the strongest getting accreditation into the Velocity Partner Programme status?

What would happen on day two of the conference? It was Las Vegas after all.

The reality however was different. EMC seemed a company in massive retransformation itself. It realises that you can’t do Cloud without the channel because its belief is that no “one big search provider or former bookstore” will provide a one size fits all solution for customers.

In this scenario it is betting the farm that partners can help design, build, implement and even host 1000s of private cloud solutions for customers that also will link into public clouds for peak demand.

And with channel only products and rules of engagement where the direct teams do not receive any compensation for a sale despite involvement getting the channel’s trust is a key directive for the company.

So what has been the catalyst for this transformation?

It was quite clear to me and others at the conference that former Intel super-brain and Stor-Trek fan, Pat Gelsinger, has made an immediate impact into EMC’s collective thinking.

He has already turned science fiction into science fact for the channel and EMC and in a parody to his beloved TV series he told the channel they need to “Transform and Prosper”.

And it was no accident that EMC chose the number of products it launched at the event. Alluding to the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and how it took super computer Deep Thought 7 ½ million years to crunch the big data question of the meaning of life to 42, EMC also launched 42 products at the event.

While Pat may never discover the meaning of life in the same way via big data analysis, he and EMC might just have discovered the meaning of the channel.

And if we can get 42% margin, well,

Res ipsa loquitur…….