The Six Five – On The Road with Sam Grocott at Dell Tech World

By Patrick Moorhead - June 2, 2023

On this episode of The Six Five – On The Road, hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead welcome Dell TechnologiesSam Grocott, SVP of Product Marketing.

Their discussion covers:

  • Highlights of the Dell Tech World event announcements
  • What news from Dell Tech World stands out most for customers and press at the show
  • An overview of the new APEX Solutions and multicloud partnerships
  • Marketing trends at top of mind for the Dell Tech Marketing Team

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You can listen to the conversation here:

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Patrick Moorhead: Hi, this is Pat Moorhead, and we are in Las Vegas at Dell Tech World 2023. The Six Five is on the road. We’re having fun. Lots of excitement out there. Lots of product announcements. I love product announcements, Daniel.

Daniel Newman: Well, let’s just say the tech cycle is in full effect. We’re moving and shaking. We’ve been here in Las Vegas for three days at the beautiful Mandalay Bay. We’re having conversations about things that you and I know that Dell needs to be talking about. And that’s everything from shifting their business to consumption to multi-clouding. I think there was a peppering of AI in there somewhere. But it’s been a really great week. And you know what is always great is getting the executives and leaders on our show here on the Six Five to talk about it.

Patrick Moorhead: It is. With that said, let’s introduce Sam Grocott. Sam, how are you doing?

Sam Grocott: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.

Patrick Moorhead: Having dinner last night, great seeing all the big news that’s going out there.

Sam Grocott: It was.

Patrick Moorhead: I mean, APEX, my favorite topic, multi-cloud, and of course, no conversation the past three months would be complete without talking AI.

Sam Grocott: A little bit in there. Yeah, I think we did a little bit more than peppering it in there. I think it’s a little more significant, but we’ll get to that.

Daniel Newman: I think if anyone knows me out there, that there was a hint of “snarkasm” in that comment. Because, we had dinner as you suggested, so when this show goes really well, everyone’s going to know that we preambled pretty heavily on this one.

Patrick Moorhead: Some people have a green room and some people have a dinner that serves as the green room.

Daniel Newman: Well, the important thing is that we’re having those big-stage conversations. We’re having these kinds of social conversations, and we’re having those private analysts to executive conversations that really help us understand, and then we can become great purveyors of the story to the market. But Sam, you lead a big swath of the marketing function here at Dell. And so these kinds of events, you have to be lighting up a little bit. I guess let’s just start broadly. Of all the announcements, what has you really excited at this year’s Dell Technologies world?

Sam Grocott: Yeah, yeah. Look, and the payload was massive this year, and honestly, this is the most innovative Dell Tech world we’ve ever had. We’ve never had so many great new offers. One personally close to me, that I’m most proud about, is all the APEX multi-cloud news. Two and a half years ago, I was employee number one of APEX at Dell. I’ve been on this journey since the very, very beginning. And to see the progress we’ve made in the, now two-years-since we announced the APEX brand, to today, I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished and the announcements and the payload we’ve been able to deliver across the board. So very, very pleased with that.

Patrick Moorhead: So there was a payload of news, but is there something that was really special aside from the news, kind of your favorite part of Dell Tech World, whether it was getting a special customer up on stage, a demo that actually worked that you didn’t know if it was going to work?

Sam Grocott: They always work.

Daniel Newman: They don’t.

Sam Grocott: So if I had to put, besides dinner with you guys last night, second only to that, I was really, really thrilled with having a group of industry leaders, industry titans, join us for this event, which is not easy to, as you can imagine, coordinate having the CEOs of Microsoft and Red Hat, Nvidia really support our launches, is something that isn’t for the faint of heart, to say the least.

But I’m extremely proud of how it all came together and how all of our teams partnered to deliver what we’ve promised to our customers and partners, that we want to be at the center of the multi-cloud universe that requires a large ecosystem. So whether we’re doing it with multi-cloud or generative AI, or with the Zero Trust news we announced as well, we’ve got a great group of partners here to help us deliver our customer needs. So very, very excited about that.

Daniel Newman: How’s the pedometer? Are you getting some steps?

Sam Grocott: I’ve gotten a few steps in, yes, but I’m countering that with my food consumption.

Daniel Newman: That definitely occurred to me at dinner last night. I don’t think there was enough walking for the amount of eating I’m doing, but I digress. You mentioned earlier, Sam, multi-cloud being really exciting, APEX being really exciting, give us a little bit more there. Let’s talk a little bit more about how that’s expanding. I think both Pat and I have been positive about the direction, but we’ve also challenged you to expand the product portfolio, get these announcements into market, give the customer a set of tools that really enable you to compete in instances for that cloud consumption opportunity. As we know hybrid and multi is the long-term answer, but where we partner can be on this continuum of hyper scale to very on-prem partnerships. It seems that you’ve kind of hit an inflection that could be very positive.

Sam Grocott: Absolutely. So we now feel strongly that we have the world’s most comprehensive, as a service, and multi-cloud portfolio. It spans everything from, now client devices, with our introduction of APEX PC as a service, all the way out to cloud native software running in your public cloud of choice, and everything in between. So whether it’s storage as a service or now compute, which is new that we announced this week as well as a service. We’ve got our HCI, our new cloud platforms, introduced as well. If you look at the breadth and depth of our as-a-service portfolio, it really showcases that we delivered on our promise just two years ago, that we were going to bring this across the entire Dell portfolio and we’ve largely done that now.

And look, I think if I reflect back on our customers and our partners’ feedback, it’s one thing to have innovative individual piece parts to go to market with, APEX storage as a service was our first launch, but without being able to combine that with the rest of the stack compute, for example, it left our customers feeling a bit incomplete. They wanted to be able to do backup as a service, storage as a service, compute as a service.

We’ve now been able to deliver those piece parts together into one integrated solution that you can subscribe to it all. You can manage it yourself, Dell can manage it, our partners can manage it. So we’ve really moved an evolved APEX, since the beginning, to give ultimate choice to our customers and our partners on how they want to consume this technology. And look, I think it’s been a great week for our customers. It’s been a great week for our partners. It’s been a very bad week for our competition. So I’m excited.

Daniel Newman: I love it.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, it is going to be interesting. You did go first and Dan and I are both going to your prime competitor’s shows that are after this. So…

Daniel Newman: I guess we’ll be there, we get to be the judge of that, right?

Patrick Moorhead: No, I know. Exactly.

Daniel Newman: Judge, jury and executioner. But it does help that you feel good.

Sam Grocott: I like the hand we’ve got right now, so yeah.

Patrick Moorhead: So multi-cloud makes sense and I did appreciate you adding the moniker Hybrid Cloud. Was it Hybrid Cloud from the start?

Sam Grocott: Yes. Yeah. So while we look at the multi-cloud world and the multi-cloud universe…

Patrick Moorhead: Hybrid Cloud by design.

Sam Grocott: By design, yeah. Well, multi-cloud by design. So when we look at the multi-cloud universe, we consider multi-cloud, yes, multiple public clouds, but also inclusive of your edge clouds, your telco clouds, your on-prem private clouds, and then the ability to move from any of those locations into the public cloud, gives you that hybrid capability. So we have, I think Dan, we’ve talked about this kind of a little bit of a unique perspective on how we define multi-cloud. We think it reflects our customers’ and our partners’ lives, whether it’s a public cloud or an Edge Cloud or a Telco Cloud that’s multiple clouds.

Patrick Moorhead: Well, it reflects reality. I mean, I think aside from, I don’t know, the biggest deniers out there, Fortune 500 companies have multiple IS providers. And what they’re doing is they’re laying across that, multiple DevSecOps, APP, X teams, right across every cloud. It’s kind of like the old days of having a separate team for a mainframe or mini computer or a client server. It’s completely different. And from a historical perspective, this is just the way tech is where, “oh hey, it’s great. We have all these choices.” And then complexity comes in and rears up its head, and they want simplification. So I like the way that you’re approaching the hybrid multi-cloud. I’m also not confused. It’s a journey. I mean, the public cloud is 19 years old.

Sam Grocott: I can’t believe that but that’s true.

Patrick Moorhead: And I also know that enterprises are conservative and they’re not going to go all the way down to V1. Okay? You’ll have some beta customers that go in and give you some great feedback, but as it moves forward in maturity, it’s an inevitability that this is how it’s going to end up. So I like the approach, not just because I’m sitting at your show here next to you.

Sam Grocott: I’m glad. I’m glad you do. And also, we had CVS present during our day-one keynote where we announced all of this. He had a really great conversation with Chuck Whitten about just why they’ve had to, by necessity, move to a much more simplified multi-cloud by design versus by default, their CIO was on stage talking about just all the different groups and ways that they were doing cloud differently. And it became just an insurmountable amount of complexity. They wanted something far simpler.

And the one piece that really, really attracted them to our strategy was the fact that we’ve got this, what we call the APEX Navigator, and think of that as the traffic control of all data moving on-prem to off-prem. And one of the many benefits of that is it gives our customers a consistent operating experience. When you talk about simplicity, the fact that the same Dell storage experience you love on-prem, when you move that data to AWS or Azure, wherever it might be, you’re operating in that same experience. There’s no need to learn different tools, different management experiences, hire different skills. So it’s not only easier, it’s also more cost-effective because you can be more efficient in how you manage it. And the learning curve is very, very low.

Daniel Newman: So let’s wrap up here. Talk a little bit about your job and how it’s changing.

Sam Grocott: Yes, yes.

Patrick Moorhead: Should we give him a performance appraisal?

Daniel Newman: I think so.

Sam Grocott: Look, I think as employee number one how do you do that?

Daniel Newman: We don’t do 360s, Pat, we don’t do 360s. Nobody gets to review us. No kidding. But the ultimate topic that’s been going on here, Sam, is you of course can embed AI in a lot of your solutions, but as the leading, one of the leaders in the marketing function, we can write blogs, we can do SEO, we can create tweets, you can extract the most important points out of research.

We had a great chat yesterday with you and Alison Dew, your CMO, and this became a topic, and it was funny. We were in a room and there were literally, probably, almost two schools. There was the school that was like, “oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.” And of course, if I was an analyst or an influencer or a marketer and wasn’t fully bought into that, I’d be like, “slow that stuff down,” right? And then there’s the other side of the room. It’s like, I think you said it, maybe it’s writing 50% of the blog now, but by next year it’s going to be writing 90%. Talk a little bit about the trends that you’re focused on in marketing, how it’s going to change the way you take Dell’s products, services, and corporation to market.

Sam Grocott: Yeah. Look, there’s nothing as big of a technological shift that we’ve seen in my 23 years that I’ve been in the technology industry. I was right at the early days of the internet coming in, in the late nineties. And then certainly when it got mass, mass, mass utilization, obviously the smartphone, that was amazing. I think this is bigger than all of them, but I also tell you I am super passionate about it. My team is moving as quickly as possible to embrace this new technology and how they do work. It is a foundational first step in building any piece of content. My team creates an enormous amount of content, and it’s your first step. It gets the process going. And while it might give you a decent starting point or first draft today, by the end of this year, maybe a year from now, it’s going to get you 80% of the way there.

So it’s going to just continue to get far more superior. We’ve got to do it the right way though. We’ve got to make sure we sprinkle in our differentiation, what makes our solutions different than others. Obviously the generative AI models will not know that inherently. So we’re spending a lot of time making sure that they reflect our differentiated value proposition as we leverage them. But I do, as a content producer, worry a bit about it, it’s not just our organization. It’s going to get 10 times faster in half the cost and more half the efficiency or more efficiency. The whole industry’s going to, you guys are going to, my competitors are going to, it’s a tsunami of content that we already live in today that’s only going to accelerate.

So I think that one of the biggest challenges for us as marketers is how do we cut through that in the future and not just suffocate our consumers more-so than they already are today? That’s going to be tricky. And anybody that tells you they’ve solved that, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. So I think with a real, honest, eyes-wide-open approach, we are where we are. It’s changing daily. It’s one of the funnest new pieces of technology to play around with everyday. I’m enjoying it, personally, but it’s going to be a wild ride. And Dell’s perspective, and my team’s perspective, is we’re going to lean in and go fast and learn along the way.

Patrick Moorhead: Sam, I really appreciate you coming on the Six Five. Spending time here, you have a lot of activities going on. And it’s funny, I’ve launched a ton of products in my history, and you take 24 hours, pat your team on the back, maybe pat yourself on the back. Look, it gets pat, and then it’s on to the next thing. Right? What I’m looking forward to are customer stories, how, while I think you are spot on, strategically, I want to hear your customers say that they like your approach. I want to hear more stories about that and obviously with your beta customers like CVS, let’s say. More stories about how they’re internalizing it and what’s your learning. So we’d love to have you back on the show.

Sam Grocott: Anytime. I’d love to. And I’ll bring a customer next time too.

Patrick Moorhead: Sounds good. All right. Thanks

Sam Grocott: Thank you.

Daniel Newman: Thanks, Sam. Yeah, let’s do that. So thanks a lot. All right, everybody. You heard it here, Sam Grocott. This is Six Five On the Road at Dell Technologies World 2023 for Patrick and myself. Stay with us. Hit that subscribe button, watch all the videos that we did here. And of course, all the other videos we do because we have a lot of fun here on the show. But we got to say goodbye for now. We’ll see you later.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.