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'Dell Isn't Late In The Services Game'

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Suresh Vaswani earned his chops, by joining a then unknown company called Wipro straight out of IIM A campus, in 1985, to sell PC hardware. In the next 25 years, Vaswani grew meteorically within Wipro first as an executive assistant to its billionaire chairman Azim Premji, to eventually become the co-CEO of the company. Unlike several of its Indian IT peers, if Wipro today gets close to a quarter of its IT revenue from the domestic market, it owes it in no small measure to Vaswani. He is credited for building Wipro Infotech, the system integration arm of Wipro Ltd, which mainly caters to India, Middle East and other developing markets. Vaswani also built several global lines of business for Wipro like testing and validation as well as Infrastructure Management Services.
In January after a surprising exit as the co-CEO of the company, Vaswani was wooed by Michael Dell personally to come onboard. Dell will be hoping that Vaswani will help him in ramping up the applications and BPO business of the company as he seeks to strengthen the services arm. A keen golfer, Vaswani sat down with Businessworld's Venkatesha Babu to talk about the mandate from Dell and how he intends to execute it. Excerpts:

Why Dell? What do you intend to achieve over the next few years?
It is true that immediately after January I had multiple opportunities including one to head the Indian operations of another large multinational. However I was excited by Dell's vision to transform the company to become an end-to-end player offering everything under a single roof. My brief is simple: to growth the applications and BPO business of the company. I have global profit and loss responsibility for it. I am also the Chairman of Dell India. I have an 80: 20 split for this. I spend about 80 per cent of my time in my global role and the rest for the Indian market. I think the team here has done a good job of helping us become the market leaders in the PC segment in the domestic market. We have a strong play in servers too. Yes, we can do better in services. You will start seeing some of those results in the near future.

Indian IT vendors including the likes of TCS, Infosys and Wipro took on large multinational players and managed to carve out a niche for themselves. Dell, while it is known as a hardware seller, isn't late to the services game? How do you intend to differentiate yourself and grow the business?
I don't agree with the contention that Dell is late in the services game. We already have close to $8 billion in revenues coming from services, which is more than several India based players. Yes, some of it might be around support services around the products we sell. However I think we have a different story in the services game. We will address the mid market segment (Small and Medium Business), make our solutions open, affordable and scalable. By emphasising on IP and platforms we will ensure that revenue is not directly linked to head count growth.
Dell already has C-suite relationships which are the envy of the industry and not easy for a lot of standalone services companies to replicate. From PC's, servers, software, storage to services, Dell's integrated offerings mean that customers need not worry about making different technologies talk and work with each other. We will ensure all that happens seamlessly. Because of our Perot acquisition, Dell is already the leader in certain segments of the market like healthcare and public sector/government business. We have tremendous strengths which we will leverage. We will also strengthen certain other segments such as banking, financial services, insurance, energy and utilities, telecom, IMS etc.

Are you following in the footsteps of IBM and HP in stressing more on services as the business here is more predictable and profitable?
I think Dell usually leads rather than merely follow somebody else's strategy. We think we have a differentiated play and a compelling value proposition for our customers.