The vice president of Dell EMC for the Asia Emerging Markets and VMware Synergy in Asia Pacific and Japan, Chue Chee Wei visited Dhaka last month to inaugurate a Dell Experience Centre. We caught up with Mr. Chuei at Dell EMC’s Gulshan office and sat down for an interview.
Chue Chee Wei is a veteran at Dell. He had been at Dell for 20 years. Starting in a humble position as an account manager in 1997, Chue rose meteorically in the company to become the vice president of an entire region, and for the Asian emerging market no less.
In our interview we asked Chue Chee Wei about the merger of Dell with EMC, Big Data applicability in Bangladesh, Dell EMC’s plan in this country and a host of other topics. Here is the interview for our readers:
FINTECH: You had already been in Dell for a long time before EMC merged with it. What was the transition process like?
C C WEI : Yes, I’ve been around for some time – this will be my 20th year at Dell. I joined the company in 1997 as an account manager in Singapore. I then moved to a regional position and took on roles in marketing, sales, and global accounts. , I have now been tasked with overseeing Asia’s Emerging Market, taking care of the developing markets such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and others. I think the great thing about being at Dell is that the company encourages its people to try new things, and you can see that from my career progression. People love the company because there are great career opportunities.
That’s the thing about Michael Dell’s vision for the company. Given his unique perspective and experience as a founder and entrepreneur, he’s especially interested in building a company that is agile; one that operates with the mindset and drive of a startup, so we are always looking ahead to identify how we can help our customers navigate this complex world of digital transformation. This merger enabled us to offer more value to our customers through our expanded combined portfolio, which encompasses solutions from the edge to the core to the cloud.
What has resulted are strong synergies that reflect the sum of the complimentary capabilities of two market leaders, and we’ve seen that materialize over the year with strong results – in FY’18 Q2, we posted a revenue of $19.3B, with a $1.8B cash flow. More importantly, we’ve already paid down $9.5B of the debt we incurred from the merger.
FINTECH: What kind of Big Data applicability you see in a country like Bangladesh?
C C WEI :When I visit a country, I like observing how it works and how technology can help it work even better. What I have seen in Bangladesh – Dhaka to be more precise – is that it is a very populated city. So, if you ask me where Big Data will be applicable, one of the things that comes to mind is in improving traffic congestion. I’m not sure about you, but for me, travelling around can be a challenge here. Is that also your experience?
FINTECH: Yes, we are stuck in traffic all day long here.
C C WEI : So that’s why I think Big Data can help a country like Bangladesh with traffic and public security. These are the two areas I see that some countries have been particularly successful in that that Bangladesh could take learnings from. In some countries, they have lamp posts equipped with more than thirty sensors. You can get video data, speed, and learn a lot about the traffic flow and the safety of the area from just placing these sensors on lamp posts in cities. Analyzing this data produced by the sensors allows us to predict traffic trends, troubled city areas and eventually find solutions to improve the traffic flow and public safety.
Of course, all this branches out into a discussion of IoT, and it’s an area that Dell Technologies is heavily invested in. We have recently announced the formation of a new IoT division, bringing together the solutions of the seven Dell Technologies businesses with the aim of providing a unified offering that simplifies the adoption of the technology for our customers.
FINTECH: You talked about VMware and Pivotal. Could you elaborate on what role they play?
C C WEI : In our company’s strategy we help our customers through four pillars. The first is digital transformation. From all your local applications to the way customers interact with you, everything is going to require digital transformation. The second is IT transformation – how people are looking at virtualization, compressing the data centre and more. The third is what we call workforce transformation. The increased connectivity – from mobile phones, to solutions on PCs, to new secure applications – will fundamentally change how we work. And finally, the last one is security transformation. If you don’t protect the first three pillars, it’s going to be a big issue.
So, VMware and Pivotal play different parts of these four pillars. For VMware, it is a company that helps our customers in IT transformation. The area where Pivotal works is in the digital transformation. Pivotal is a cloud-native company that offers platform as a service. It helps customers manage Big Data, build applications with that data and then analyze it. Everything is done on the cloud – you can program, design applications and you can easily move these applications to the web. In present times, applications launch very fast and they also need to be refreshed very quickly. It’s different from the old way of thinking – that you need to design applications and have a very long lead time in testing it before the launch. Pivotal is changing the way people look at application development.
FINTECH: So that you can bypass the long beta stage…
C C WEI : Yes, that’s right. If your travels bring you to Singapore, we would love to take you on a tour of our Pivotal Labs. They have an interesting way of working – there’s one script and two programmers at all times, It’s such a unique way of deploying, and they pin down much of their success to this methodology. If it needs one year to deploy, they can break that down into different processes to quickly come up with the functioning application. This methodology is very important to digital transformation because companies need to move at a rapid pace if they want to remain competitive.
As for VMware, it provides cloud computing and platform virtualization software and services. Its technologies are important for the virtualization of servers, virtualization of desktops, the creation of hybrid cloud and also for movement into the public cloud.
Pivotal and VMware are the new software of the future. In fact, VMware is one of the fastest growing and largest software companies right now. Do you think companies will move from hybrid to completely public cloud? What are the technological or other obstacles to that currently? If I can ask you, is there a lot of public cloud (usage) here?
FINTECH: Not at all. But it has started and picking up the pace.
C C WEI : Public cloud was the buzzword a couple years ago. Everybody was talking about how easy it was to go to the public cloud. When I talk to our customers, there are three big reasons why they would like to go to the public cloud. Firstly, they say that it’s easy to subscribe to the public cloud. Secondly, it’s fast. Thirdly, it is more economical in the long run. These are generally the three biggest reasons.
C C WEI : But fast forward five years now and another five years into the future, there are different considerations that come into play. On a macro level, highly demanding, digitally-savvy customers are pushing companies to transform and find new ways to connect and engage with them. The constantly shifting demands of customers in the region are making companies select more agile strategies. When it comes to choosing the right cloud strategy, companies that adopt a public cloud strategy might find themselves unable to meet their customers’ demands in the long-run. There are specific risks when completely adopting new systems, transitioning to new solutions and, more specifically, moving the most sensitive workloads to the cloud. A hybrid cloud strategy allows companies a ‘best of both worlds’ approach that allows them to keep core operations on-premise, while scaling to the public cloud when it becomes necessary. Especially within a constantly shifting environment, this approach allows them to manage digital transformation at a pace that makes most sense for them. And companies are starting to see the benefits of hybrid cloud – according to IDC, globally, more than 80% of enterprise IT organizations are expected to commit to hybrid cloud architectures.
FINTECH: In Bangladesh there are restrictions on banks imposed by the Central Bank which prevent them from storing their data outside of the geographical border of Bangladesh. Is that something that concerns you?
C C WEI : Legislation is a good thing. It’s one of the only catalysts that drives companies to bolster their security. What we’ve seen across the region is that without an actual financial or business implication applied to data breaches, companies generally invest poorly in securing their systems. This presents obstacles for that market to keep pace with the rest of the region in terms of advancing digitally and economically.
This is, of course, good for Bangladesh. This is an impetus for companies to transform their infrastructure. And what’s good for Bangladesh is good for Dell because we invest heavily in Bangladesh. For example, we have recently set up an Experience Centre here.
FINTECH: Which brings us to the Experience Centre, we wanted to ask about that. Tell us what this centre will do?
C C WEI : Sure. We have five big solution centres in key locations across Asia. There’s one in Tokyo, one in Sydney, one in Singapore, and another in Bangalore. But not everybody can travel to those countries. Those are big Experience Centres because their population coverage is large. However, for Bangladesh, we decided to invest in our own Experience Centre so customers here do not need to travel outside to test something. We have installed our latest technologies here so that our customers can test their applications and our technologies at their convenience. I think this will be a great benefit to a lot of our customers. At the same time, we hope to expose the younger generation to digital transformation and inspire them with the latest technologies by giving them the opportunity to use the Experience Centre.
FINTECH: Could you tell us more about how young people will be connected to this?
C C WEI : Youth will be able to use the Experience Center to write and test applications, and we hope that this will increase the digital literacy of the younger generation and inspire more people about the future that’s about to come.
FINTECH: So, it’s a full lab?
C C WEI : Yes, it’s a fully-functional lab with servers, storage, and much more. We have invested substantially in this.
FINTECH: What sets you apart from your competition in Bangladesh?
C C WEI : A big differentiator is just how much we are committed to investing in Bangladesh. That’s why we set up our Experience Centre. We are investing heavily in people, equipment, and services in our Bangladeshi operations, from pre-sales, to sales, to after sales. For example, we just have introduce our Dell Direct services support here. That means customers can call our technical staff directly and support, including all the parts for PCs, notebooks, servers will be available here in Bangladesh. This means customers don’t need to wait for parts to fly from another country to be replaced. These are huge elements in setting us apart from our competition.
FINTECH: Could you talk about any specific challenge that you face in Bangladesh?
C C WEI : Talent acquisition is a challenge. To ensure the very best for our customers, we are committed to finding people with the very best skills. This is my focus for the Bangladeshi operations. Nevertheless, I am very impressed with the work ethic of Bangladeshi people. People here are very professional. I think Bangladesh has a bright future ahead.
FINTECH: Where do you see Dell Bangladesh in the near future?
C C WEI : The best is yet to come. The team here is highly committed to helping customers’ in their digital transformation journeys. I see three big opportunities moving forward: we will help enable local businesses with modern infrastructure capabilities, including modernization and re-architecturing of their application environments; we will help to guide them as they redesign and re-plan their data center strategies; and we will continue to attract the very best talents thanks to our distinctive company culture, unique structure, and go-to-market strategy.
FINTECH: Thanks very much for talking to us.
C C WEI : You are most welcome. ■