Turning Partnerships Into a Competitive Advantage
While most of Dell's competitors spread themselves very thin, attacking every new market opportunity that emerges, Dell picks its fights carefully. This is particularly with regard to Web services, where Dell has decided to implement a strategy that will differentiate them from the other firms.
Rather than compete aggressively, Dell treats Web services firms more like customers - and these firms are responding by favoring Dell for servers. Companies don't like to buy from companies they compete with. This gives Dell, at least with respect to companies in its class, a competitive advantage.
Some of these firms had been moving to create their own hardware, too. Dell's move, then, should create a more favorable alternative, since it comes with services and experience. This should make the result far more reliable, with a far lower TCO as well.
CEOs of Private Companies Have an Easier Job
One thing I've noticed about CEOs of public companies is that they tend to do three things: Overwork themselves (Steve Jobs), focus so much on stock performance that they harm the firm (Hurd), or take the job for granted and mine the perks (Carly Fiorina at HP).
These examples are extreme, but often you'll find a bend of these problems in most CEOs. None of the paths are good for the company. While Michael Dell, as a founder, would generally resist No. 2 and 3 anyway, the risk of No. 1 and the conflicts of No. 2 are clearly driven by the special requirements of a large, public company.
The best benefit of being private is that lets the CEO to think about ways to advance the company and be a better manager. The collateral benefits won't just be better customer and partner relations or a fascinating new product. The end result will be a much stronger and healthier CEO - and that will result in a much stronger Dell.
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