Dell, the Ultra Service Provider?

Dell has earned a great reputation for aggressive pricing and prompt
delivery of the latest computing technology. It’s less well-regarded as a
premium enterprise service provider but hopes to change that with today’s
announcement.

The Round Rock, TX computer giant has upgraded its Platinum service and
support program to a new Platinum Plus program that provides the highest
level of service to enterprise customers. The company is also adding two
technology innovations to the service. The current Gold, Silver, and Basic support
services remain the same.

The premium-priced Platinum Plus will probably only be of interest to a
small double-digit percentage of Dell’s customers,
according to analysts. But those who pay will get broad 24 x 7 support, a
technical account manager focused on their business and a standard four-hour
on-site troubleshooting service, with an option to buy two-hour onsite
service.

These features are not all new to Dell or other enterprise suppliers better known for their extensive corporate support, such as HP and IBM.

“In some ways, it’s an expansion of services they’ve had for years,” Eric
Rocco, a services analyst with Gartner, told internetnews.com. “I
think Dell is offering this as a rebirth of their services offering. It
shows that they feel more confident about saying they can offer this on a
worldwide basis in a standardized way. They want to beat the perception they
can’t compete at the high end with HP and IBM.”

Dell is trying to further distinguish itself with two new features:

The first is called Enterprise Command Center Real-Time Tracking
Window. The Web-enabled service provides customers with a kind of virtual
enterprise command center. Much as companies can use the Web to track the
status of an overnight delivery package, Dell’s Real-Time Tracking Window
offers a view around-the-world of the real-time status of open service
dispatches.

In theory, the service could more clearly expose areas where
Dell is not responding in a timely manner, such as service requests.

“When we showed this to some of our customers, they said ‘Do you really
want to share that much data? It could be a Pandora’s box,'” Stephen Meyer,
vice president of services at Dell, told internetnews.com. “But
this is based on our belief that you can’t improve what you can’t measure
and you need transparency to do that.”

Analyst Rocco doesn’t think Dell is taking too much of a risk by offering
the service to customers with premium support. “Besides, any large
organization already knows when the vendor hasn’t responded in a timely
manner,” he said.

The system utilizes Google Earth Pro to create an interactive 3D display
of the command center that users can quickly click through to identify
problem areas. (Earlier this month Dell announced a mainly consumer-focused
bundling
deal
with Google).

Dell is also now offering Operations Performance Benchmarking. The
patent-pending methodology allows customers to compare IT performance
metrics to historical results for other companies in the same or similar
industries.

Dell is enhancing its support offering to what is already a huge services
operation. For example, Dell said it manages more than 500 major enterprise
migrations and consolidations and takes over 2 million enterprise support
calls each year.

“Our services business has about a $5 billion annual run rate,” noted
Meyer. “It’s one of the fastest growing parts of our company. If you broke
it out, services would be a Fortune 500 company by itself.”

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