Work to Be Done
Are you to the point where you want to be, or is there still more work to be done? No, were not. Its improving. I think its getting better, but no, I think it takes a couple of quarters to get that ramped up, people in place [and] trained. These are thousands of technical support people that weve put in place. But we let it slip, and so through the very end of our third quarter and now throughout this quarter and into Q1, when well see the next big ramp—because theres a big selling season in the consumer business right now—instead of the traditional [practice of] you let it drop off into Q1 as volume drops off, were not going to let it drop off.Were going to keep hiring and maintaining the technical support until we gain the kind of status and kind of level of notoriety on the consumer side that weve always had, and make sure on the corporate side that every single ounce of resources our teams need to make sure that were at the top of the class always in servers and desktops and notebooks and storage is there. But that ones not quite as big a gap. The consumer side is the one that was gapped.That must have been frustrating, considering that Dell has been known for great support and great services. It was frustrating, sure, because we didnt do the things we needed to do. We thought maybe we were going to be able to recover, and we didnt recover, but its not death-defying and its not unknowable and its not unfixable. During the conference call for the [third-quarter earnings], you said it was Dells goal to become more efficient. Dell has always been known as a hyper-efficient company, so what does the company do to become even more efficient? This issue is really more one of execution then it is of efficiency. We got ourselves a little too segmented, so we need get ourselves some uniformity in our pricing and our marketing messaging and in our go-to-market strategies. But thats a fairly minor tune-up in terms of what we were doing. Overall efficiency is driven predominantly by volume and by gains. We just opened a brand-new factory in North Carolina, now were discussing a factory in Europe, and were preparing to open a factory in the spring in China, so the volume is still in plan. So efficiencies are in how you execute and how you refine processes so you dont have too many of them, because too many of them cause complexity, too many of the segments deciding different marketing approaches causes complexity, and that causes costs. So well continue to scale, continue to refine and, perhaps lastly, continue to push on the online capabilities of the company, both in terms of online support, but also online commerce. We are now aggregating all our online capabilities into a single team, and making investments into new online capabilities for customers so that Dell continues to be the easiest place to buy, easiest place to get technical support, easiest place to own technology products. You can see if you watch our Web site, theres been a rapid-fire change in the overall look, the feel, an uptick in the ID and the way you interface, and youll be able to see that evolve very, very rapidly and consistently. And then we can roll it out globally. Were experimenting with a new capability now we call TechConnect. Were up to about 2,200 customer calls per day now, where we can do remote takeover. Massively successful for us, and somewhat unique in terms of the core of the direct model, how you interact with customers directly, so that youre going to see more of. Youre going to see more ease-of-buying capabilities to guide customers through the Internet as the preferred way to deal with Dell. We think weve really got a great opportunity in the online enhancement for the business, to facilitate both growth and cost reduction. Next Page: Consumer and enterprise markets.