CIO as a Service – The New Dell and Current Motor
The second day of the Dell Annual Analyst Conference began early Wednesday with breakfast at 7, especially after many in our number were treated to a selection of rather excellent tequilas the night before.
It began with Steve Felice, President, Chief Commercial Officer sharing examples of Dell’s innovative culture (including crowd sourcing and bamboo in packaging), Boomi’s role in the OneWorld Alliance partner integration solution, and the emerging markets story, now accounting for 30 percent of revenues and projected to grow very rapidly. Steve Felice then presented three interesting Dell customers, and more about that shortly.
We later heard from Karen Quintos, SVP and CMO about the role of marketing in shaping reputation and building brand, and about the Dell Women Entrepreneur’s Network (DWEN) and the 162 million women-led startups last year
And we were also treated to frank discussion in the Big Data panel hosted by Joyce Mullen, which cut through a lot of hogwash about the pragmatics of Big Data and at the same time showed a way through to its eventual potential.
However, for me, the most interesting moments in the day’s formal program were about one of the three customers that Steve Felice interviewed:
- Current Motor – a startup financed by a woman entrepreneur
- Pixomundo – a rapidly-growing, Oscar-winning international visual effects company with a global network of studios now in Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Los Angeles, London, Shanghai, Beijing, Toronto and, soon, Baton Rouge
- Blackbaud (BLKB) – a profitable public SaaS company serving the fundraising IT needs of non-profits in the Cloud
I met for lunch with Lauren Flanagan, investor and executive chairman of Current Motor, and we were joined by Adriana Karaboutis, better known as “Andi,” who is a VP and CIO at Dell.
Lauren Flanagan is an investor who managed two funds targeting Midwest startups, Phenomenelle (a 6-year-old fund with 9 portfolio companies), and the newer Belle (with 4 investments). Both funds invite participation from women investors, many of whom take a hands-on role in their investments.
Lauren Flanagan came upon Current Motor at an angel conference and before long had become the guiding investor to this best-in-class, all-electric Super Scooter made in Michigan. Current Motor makes an electric motorcycle that travels 50 miles between charges and cruises at 60-70 mph and looks like art on wheels. The Current Motor electric vehicle (EV) features personalization via wraps (like cellphone skins), including original art and a gallery of 30 current designs.
The exciting part about the Current Motor EV is digital, largely thanks to help provided by Dell engineers. The EV is connected to the Cloud and exchanges data in real time about performance and battery life, which it displays on its digital dash or on a smart phone, resolving for its riders the issue of range anxiety.
Current Motor thus can provide its customers with ongoing performance and safety information, as well as capture usage data for its own marketing and product design needs. Dell helped Current Motor in other ways, too, with management software for its sales force, ecommerce capability and manufacturing systems.
As Lauren Flanagan said, "We don't need a CIO, we have Dell.”
I wrote yesterday about the New Dell and the difficult job of remaking its brand to express the full range of offerings Dell now makes to its customers. After hearing the Current Motor story, I think perhaps the full impact of the New Dell is felt more influentially in entrepreneurial startups, where not just infrastructure products but Dells IT solutions and services can have a mission-critical effect.
The end-to-end Cloud promise of a Dell infrastructure, solutions and services provider, that now rings fully true for the entrepreneurial startup, soon may scale up through the SMB and Midsize segments. The pieces are falling into place, but it will take time and skill in execution of this challenging transformation.