Try To Not Be Dell

I just caught Des Paroz, Acer Australia CTO, on a recent G’day World podcast. Overall, it gives a good insight into the issues a large vendor like Acer deals with.

They touched on Dell (37:30 in).

Cameron: The big … E-Business case study for the last 5 or 6 years has always been Dell and their whole just-in-time model … Is (Dell) still seen as being the epitome of just-in-time supply chain engineering, or has the rest of the market caught up?

Des: First of all, Dell are innovators in … what they do … I think one of the things we try to do is to not be Dell …

Some good points here. Firstly, every generation seems to have its heroic companies, and there will be plenty of MBA graduates immersed in The Way Of Dell. Insofaras their business model and its execution packs a lot of lessons, that’s a good thing. And I’m not going to bemoan its existence, because it has done a lot to drop costs, keep the specs flying alone, and prove the power of IT when applied judiciously and comprehensively throughout an organisation.

It’s likely, though, that many companies will be hurt trying to imitate Dell’s strategy too closely. Its model may not require industry dominance of monopolistic proportions, but it does rely on huge economies of scale. Furthermore, there are huge markets they can’t cater for. Just about every Apple user, for starters. Those are people for whom the 25% off doesn’t mean very much. And, on a personal note, there are those who revere support, and realise that, for all its Fortune 500 prestige, Dell can’t help individuals, and, I suspect, small businesses. Having spent too much time on the other end of “support” calls to Dell’s offshore centre, I rest my case.

Of course, who cares? Dell probably doesn’t – it’s doing fine across the board. The companies that must care are those like Acer. And, those in other industries, where there will no doubt be more and more companies aiming to be The Dell (or The Walmart) of fruit-juice/lawnmowers/hairdressing salons. As the race to be The Dell continues, it will serve many companies well to do as Acer does, and strive to Not Be Dell.