4 ways consumerization threatens Dell and HP

You'd think the employee-driven tech trend would be good for the PC makers. But it ain't necessarily so

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Dell and HP are more likely to pick off smaller businesses in such consulting, where the complexity is low, the strategy more boilerplate -- and the client focus more on the tool set. (It would make sense for Dell to expand its Kace systems-management tool to cover mobile devices, as Symantec has done with Altiris.) Both companies are largely in small-business consulting anyhow, but the consumerization shift will make it that much harder to expand into larger, more lucrative, more strategy-seeking clients.

The unintended consequences of a move away from consumers
The irony in the dilemma faced by Dell and HP is that the consumerization phenomenon is occurring just after they began moving away from a consumer focus (in their profit strategy, that is). They've targeted IT buyers just as those buyers are losing or releasing at least some of the purchasing decisions over the kinds of user products HP and Dell sell.

Both Dell and HP have the advantage of being known to both users and IT, and they're still liked. Dell particularly in its early years was a pioneer in build-your-own PCs, a capability that it downplayed as PCs got commoditized but could actually factor into the bring/choose-your-own consumerization trend.

And Apple has proven that "consumer" needn't mean "cheap," either in price or quality. Some of the reasons for abandoning the consumer market may not have been so valid. However, Apple offers more value for those extra dollars, whereas most PC makers have tried (and failed) to copy the Apple gloss but not its quality and innovation. Of course customers haven't been willing to pay them a premium!

Dell's Rosenstein told me the company wants to deliver PCs that appeal to IT around the needs, such as manageability and security, not considered by users and to deliver PCs that users lust for and will choose in those cases when IT doesn't dictate the decision. He's right -- an "and" strategy is essential in a consumerization context. On the other hand, Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell proclaimed this week that Dell is no longer a PC company but a business services and IT provider. 

Dell and HP have a shot, but only if they rethink their strategies -- just as their IT customers are having to do. So far, their rethinking has been to go corporate, into servers and consulting, and away from the devices people use. That leaves the future of user tech in the hands of Apple, Samsung, and perhaps some other names we're not yet familiar with.

This article, "4 ways consumerization threatens Dell and HP," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Smart User blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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