Helping global Dell get back home

The metamorphosis of Dell in Limerick from a manufacturing site to a global centre of customer support is ongoing, and the region remains vital to the IT giant’s operations, according to Denis Kelly.

Helping global Dell get back home

By Pádraig Hoare

The metamorphosis of Dell in Limerick from a manufacturing site to a global centre of customer support is ongoing, and the region remains vital to the IT giant’s operations, according to Denis Kelly.

The Newcastle West native and vice-president for global support and deployment at Dell EMC was recently appointed the new Limerick site leader by the company.

Denis Kelly says the legacy of staff at Dell in Limerick from its manufacturing days has created a ‘furnace of capability’. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22.

Denis Kelly says the legacy of staff at Dell in Limerick from its manufacturing days has created a ‘furnace of capability’. Picture: Liam Burke/Press 22.

With the company for 22 years, Mr Kelly knows just how painful it was for Limerick when 1,900 jobs were shipped to Poland in 2009, leaving a community angry and devastated.

He acknowledges it has been a rebuilding job for Dell in the locality.

“There is no point in hiding from it, that was a very difficult time in Limerick. But we are now nearly at 1,000 people, and the great thing is that the average tenure is about 11 years with Dell. But the average time in each role is three years. What that tells you is people have really grasped the responsibility for themselves of the creation of the pathway to success.

“It is phenomenal. We now in Limerick run one third of all the cyber -security for Dell around the globe. That was born out of the capability that some of our people had from their manufacturing days.

"Out of Limerick, 300 people have created the ability to create a rail delivery model from China for Dell right through Europe. It is the longest model in the world at 8,000 miles. This is the kind of value-add model people have created within Limerick,” he said.

Having been one of the most trusted lieutenants within Dell’s operations over the past decade, it was a source of massive professional and personal satisfaction to come home to lead what is happening in Limerick, Mr Kelly said.

“I can’t even do justice to the words, how proud I feel as a Limerick man to lead what is happening here.

"I joined Dell in 1996 in the manufacturing operations piece. I spent a few years running services and business operations in Europe, and moved to Austin and worked there for eight years. I spent some time running sales and process re-engineering, which was the re-engineering of business processes for sales and marketing.

“About five years ago, I moved back into services, to run the consumer division of services globally for Dell. That has all the post-sales support for the consumer division of Dell. Directly and indirectly, we’ll have 10,000 people and typically supporting customers through all channels.

"Two years ago I decided it was time to come back. I run the campus here in Limerick, in addition to my day job. I spend a third of my time in Limerick, a third in Asia and a third in the US,” he said. The speed of change in IT now is unprecedented, added Mr Kelly.

“What you learn is how to stay relevant in terms of future growth of the company and also where our customer set is going. I would have spent a lot of time with sales and marketing as well as my support, and you learn the speed of change.

“One of the major groups we have on the Limerick campus is the solutions centre, which is where customers have a problem, or opportunity to resolve it, using technology. In the past, that would have been seen as hardware, but with data in and of itself, data is now the vehicle often to improve the efficiency of many companies.

“What is very interesting is the type of customers coming through and also the questions they are coming with. In the past it would have been hardware-related, now they are coming very much with a business problem,” he said.

Limerick’s added value to Dell is perfectly exemplified by its Internet of Things (IoT) lab, he said.

“What we have developed with that lab is we are supporting about 60% of the engagements that Dell has globally from Limerick. It is really converting into much more tangible benefits to the company and our customers. Dell moved away from being a hardware manufacturer to being a company that offers all the solutions from the edge to the core. The IoT presents us with the chance to showcase all our capabilities, starting with the customer,” he said.

Upstarts in the data management sector have been turning heads among investors globally, with the likes of Rubrik and Cohesity predicted to be the next big IT giants with their data backup and management capabilities. Giants like Dell EMC have seen the threat and responded accordingly, said Mr Kelly.

“The biggest advantage Dell EMC has is best reflected in who we are supporting. Dell technology is now supporting 99% of the Fortune 500 companies.

"The biggest selling point Dell has is we have the capability to face into the customer as one single entity. A lot of competitors do specific elements really well, but Dell is a one-stop shop.

“Over the last couple of years, we have established a command centre here in Limerick which has been replicated throughout the world to manage the post-service events of our customers — 7.5m events here.

"That is led out of Limerick by Tipperary man Declan Nolan. The legacy of people has created for us a furnace of capability,” said Mr Kelly.

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