Why Dell’s New Global Channel Chief Has Such a Pivotal Role

eWEEK CHANNEL ANALYSIS: Dell’s announcement that Rola Dagher, a former company executive, would return to Dell Technologies as Global Channel Chief and lead global partner strategy, vision, enablement, program design and experience programs, has generated well-deserved attention.

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Rola Dagher, who most recently served as president of Cisco Systems Canada, is a deeply experienced executive who helped lead the channel organization at Bell Canada for 13 years before spending nearly five years in Dell’s Enterprise segment and Infrastructure Solutions Group.

Thus, she has proven leadership skills, along with considerable channel experience, both of which will be important for managing Dell’s sizable partner group and programs. But Dagher is also taking over an organization that rose to prominence under Joyce Mullen, who unexpectedly left Dell in July after 21 years of notably successful service.

In other words, Dagher isn’t just taking the reins of an organization that is vitally important to Dell’s current and future success. She is also replacing one of the most notable and successful executives to ever serve at the company.

Let’s consider Dell’s partner organization, its evolution and how Rola Dagher fits in.

Building the Dell channel

Dell’s prowess in supply chain management is well-established, but its channel and partner efforts are less known. That may be due to the company’s focus on Internet-driven direct sales and consumer markets during its early years. As Dell increasingly shifted its sights toward business solutions, building relationships with workplace-focused resellers, service providers and other channel partners became increasingly important.

When Michael Dell returned to the company’s CEO role in 2007, he made growing the channel organization a priority. That was complemented by a variety of organic R&D investments, product creation efforts and corporate acquisitions in areas such as business/technical services, software and security. But Dell’s channel strategy gained a full head of steam following the completion of the EMC acquisition in 2016.

Why so? Because while Dell’s partner program centered attention on the needs of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), EMC brought along well-regarded enterprise solutions and experienced partner organizations. Much analysis at the time focused on the potential synergies between the companies’ solutions and Dell’s resulting ability to successfully pitch itself as an enterprise desktop-to-datacenter vendor. That the combined companies also had the means and relationships required to sell into enterprise accounts received less attention.

Initially, Dell managed its own and EMC’s partner programs separately, but in February 2017 the company announced a new integrated Dell EMC Partner Program that focused on providing “Simple, Predictable and Profitable” experiences to company partners. Initially, the new organization was led by Dell’s president of Global Channels, John Byrne.

When Byrne was promoted to be president of Dell’s North American Sales, he was replaced by Joyce Mullen, Dell’s SVP/GM of Global OEM and IOT Solutions who was also elevated to president, Dell Global Channel, Embedded and Edge Solutions.

Mullen’s channel leadership

Under Mullen’s leadership, the Dell EMC Partner Program continued to emphasize its “Simple, Predictable and Profitable” mantra, and to focus on helping partners develop and deliver solutions that spanned Dell Technologies’ entire portfolio, as well as complementary solutions from VMware and new acquisitions, including security provider Carbon Black and VMware’s Pivotal Software.

At the company’s 2019 Global Partner Summit in April, Dell announced that the program would be rebranded: Dell Technologies Partner Program. The Summit also focused on how Dell intended to help partners prepare themselves and their customers for the upcoming “Data Decade” by highlighting recent and emerging technologies, including multi-cloud deployments, edge computing, AI and 5G.

In her introduction to Dell’s 2020 Partner Program Guide, Mullen pointed out how Dell is continuing to invest significant sums ($4.5B annually) in R&D that would benefit the channel. In addition, she noted that Dell Technologies’ partners had delivered $52B in orders during the previous 12 months, more than half of the company’s overall orders during that period.

When she announced her departure in July 2020, it would be safe to say that Joyce Mullen was leaving the Dell Technologies Partner Program on a high point.

Final analysis

In other words, Dell’s new Global Channel Chief, Rola Dagher, is taking the reins of a solid and successful organization that has delivered demonstrable, growing benefits to both its parent company and global partners. In normal circumstances, Dagher’s mandate would probably amount to “Don’t screw it up.” However, these days are anything but normal, so Dagher will effectively need to hit the ground running when she begins her new role on Sept. 7.

Along with continuing to develop and deliver the “Simple, Predictable and Profitable” program for which Dell Technologies is well known, Dagher will also face the hopes and expectations of partners who are trying to deal with business environments and global economies disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fortunately for Dell and its thousands of global channel partners, Rola Dagher’s experience, expertise, advocacy and track record of success suggest that she will deliver the unwavering commitment and leadership that the Dell Technologies Partner Program requires. Offering channel players workable, flexible solutions and options, and her organization honest and clear-sighted leadership should be among her first orders of business.

Charles King is a principal analyst at PUND-IT and a regular contributor to eWEEK.  © 2019 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.