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Why Dell’s emerging market growth outpaces the rest

Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell tells ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK that Africa is bright with tech opportunity

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The founder and CEO of Dell Technologies says that the company’s rapid growth in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), which has outpaced that in the rest of the world, is a direct result of the massive opportunity in the region.

“Ultimately, we’ve invested where there has been opportunity,” Michael Dell said last week in an exclusive briefing. “The EMEA region has been a great performer, with fantastic capabilities and great teams. We’ve given the team a lot of resources, and customers have responded. It’s a familiar story, because it has also happened in other regions.”

Dell was talking at the end of the Dell Technologies World expo in Las Vegas, which drew a record 15,000 paying delegates this week. The event came in the wake of the company reporting its first quarterly results since relisting on the stock market following the record $67-billion acquisition of storage giants EMC. Revenue for the quarter reached $21.4-billion, up 19% from the previous quarter.

The company also recorded its fifth consecutive quarter of growth in PC shipments, led by the EMEA region, during a period that saw continual decline in PC sales globally, and many rivals exiting emerging markets.

“We’ve all learned that you have to evolve and change what you’re doing to stay relevant. The capabilities we’ve announced at Dell Technologies World this week are highly relevant and totally market oriented towards the demand out there. We’re significantly differentiated relative to our competitors, and our partners see that.”

Aongus Hegarty, president of Dell Technologies for EMEA, said that the region had gone through strong economic growth, which had led to increased demand for information technology. This was reflected in the emergence of numerous start-ups, as well as the expansion of small and medium enterprises.

“In combining Dell and EMC to form Dell Technologies, the collaboration between the two organisations has worked particularly well in all our markets in EMEA,” he said. “Michael has supported us in the Middle East and across Africa, at a time when many technology companies were withdrawing or outsourcing, while we were building up expertise on the ground.

“It’s much more a business discussion than a technology-led conversation. We start with business objectives and challenges.”

The biggest risk in the region, Michael Dell stressed, would be not taking risks.

“To me, risk goes with innovation and success,” he said. “So you have to take risk. Inside many big corporations people talk of risk reduction and risk management but, if you don’t take risks, you won’t innovate and you won’t succeed. It doesn’t mean all risks will be successful: you have to learn quickly, use data, understand what’s working and make adjustments as you go.”

Within the EMEA region, the territory known as META, covering the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, performed especially well. Mohammed Amin, Dell’s senior vice president for the territory, said the company saw 20% growth in the last quarter, and increased its 5000-strong workforce by 900 employees in the past year.

“Some of our competitors closed down in the region or reduced investment or headcount,” he said. “The acquisition of EMC gave us a huge opportunity to serve our customers. Many large customers already wanted to consolidate their vendors, so it was great thing for them when we came together.

“The other important thing was that there was no conflict of product or go to market strategy. Dell had access to so many customers that EMC could not access and vice versa, so combined we had access to a much bigger customer base.”

The South African market saw spectacular performance, propelling the country into the top ten of Dells’ global Digital Transformation Index, which measures business readiness to compete in a digital world. According to Doug Woolley, general manager of Dell Technologies in South Africa, the company holds just under 50% market share in storage hardware, around 40% in servers, and about 22% in personal computing.

“We’ve got a very strong market share position, but I’m less worried about share than how to help customers be competitive,” he said. “It’s about how do you help customers transform. The share looks after itself if you look after customers.”

The company also appears to be differentiated by its response to political uncertainty, which has been a factor in some competitors pulling back from emerging markets.

Said Amin: “We never pull back because of a short-term situation. This is one of our secret sauces. Companies trust that we will be there in good times, but also in tough times.”

The trust of customers, Michael Dell confirmed, was at the heart of the company’s success: “To continue winning their trust, we have to keep reinventing ourselves all the time. That is built into our culture.”

Cars

Mercedes brings older models to the connected world

The Mercedes Me Adapter is designed to bring older Mercedes Benz models into the connected world, allowing one to keep a close eye on the car via a smartphone. SEAN BACHER installs a unit

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In this day and age, just about any device, from speakers to TVs to alarm systems, can be connected and controlled via a smartphone.

In keeping with this trend, Daimler Chrysler has launched a Mercedes Me Adapter – a system designed to connect your car to your phone.

The Mercedes Me Adapter comprises a hardware and software component. The hardware is an adapter that is no bigger than a match box and plugs into the OBD2 diagnostics socket under the car’s steering wheel column. 

The software component is the Mercedes Me app, which can be downloaded for Android and iOS devices. (See downloading instructions at the end of the review.)

Setting up

Before you can start using the Mercedes Me Adapter, you need to download the app and begin the registration process. This includes setting up an account, inputting the vehicle’s VIN number, the year it was manufactured and the model name – among many other details. This information is sent to Daimler Chrysler. It is advisable to get this done before heading off to Mercedes to have the adapter installed, as it takes quite some time getting all the details in.

The next step is locating your nearest Merc dealer to get the adapter installed. You have to produce the registration papers and a copy of your ID – something Mercedes neglects to mention on its website, or anywhere else, for that matter.

What it does

The Mercedes Me Adapter is designed to show the car’s vital statistics on your mobile device. On the home screen, information like parking time, odometer reading and fuel level is displayed.

Below that is information about your most recent journeys, such as the distance, time taken, departure address and destination address. Your driving style is also indicated in percentage – taking into account acceleration, braking and coasting.

A Start Cockpit button displayed on the home screen includes a range of widgets offering additional information, including where your car is parked – right down to the address – as well as battery voltage, total driving time, distance and driver score since the adapter was installed. A variety of other widgets can be added to the screen, allowing for complete customisation.

Many users have have pointed out that that there is no real point to the adapter. However it does offer benefits. Firstly, your trips can be organised into personal and business categories and then exported into a spreadsheet for tax purposes. Secondly, you can keep a very close eye on your fuel consumption, as it automatically measures how many litres you put in each time you visit the garage and the cost (the cost per litre must be entered manually so it can work out total refuelling costs). This is also quite beneficial in terms of working out how much fuel you go through, without keeping all the pesky slips when it comes to claiming at the end of the month.

Probably the most important benefit is that it monitors the engine, electrical, transmission and gearbox, sending notifications as soon as any faults are detected. A perfect example was encountered on a recent trip I made to Pretoria. Upon arriving, I received a notification that I needed to check my engine, with the Mercedes roadside assist number blinking and ready for me to dial.

The notification did not even show up on the actual fault detection system, except for the faint glow of the orange engine light, which I would never have noticed in the bright light. I immediately took it Mercedes and they diagnosed it as an intermittent thermostat error, which they said is fine for now but that I have to keep an eye on the engine temperature.

Conclusion

The convenience of easily being able to export mileage for tax purposes and refuelling stops as well as being able to locate your car at anytime should be more than enough to qualify it as a pretty useful companion for your car.

Add to this the fact that it is completely free from Mercedes, and that makes it an absolute no-brainer. Should you not like it, simply unplug the adapter and uninstall the app. The only thing lost is half an hour while the Mercedes technician sets it up, ensures it is working and gives you a crash course on how to operate the app.

The adapter will only work in Mercedes Benz models from 2002 onwards. No warranties are lost, as the adapter does not increase the car’s performance and is a genuine Mercedes part.

2017 models and above do not need the adapter as everything is installed when the car is manufactured. All one needs to do is install the app and pair it with the car.

Get the Mercedes me iOS app here

Get the Mercedes Me Android app here

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Durban FilmMart wants African documentary projects

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Submissions for documentary and feature film projects in development for the Durban FilmMart  (DFM) close next week on 31 January 2020. The organisers are making a special call-out to documentary filmmakers who have projects to submit.

“We invite documentary filmmakers to submit their projects no matter how early in its development it is, so long as it has a producer and director attached to it,” says Don Edkins well-known documentary filmmaker and the DFM’s documentary film mentor. “The DFM is a brilliant way in which filmmakers are able to galvanize interest in their ideas, get people excited about being involved or helping them develop the project. It may be that the project could then be taken to its next level by being invited to another market for further development, or find financing through the pitches. The possibilities are endless.”

The DFM, which takes place from 17 to 20 July 2020, will host 10 documentary and 10 feature projects at its co-production and finance forum. The producer, director or writer on the project must be an African citizen and can either be living on the continent or in the Diaspora.

‘Documentary filim has over the last years really come into its own,” enthuses Edkins. “We see how the genre has evolved from its more information-driven newsreel-style to a narrative or ‘story-driven’ approach,” he says. “It makes the film genre so much more accessible for its audience, drawing them in and engaging them, yet still making strong statements or creating its requisite impact.”

Countless film projects have gone from a simple concept and idea at the Durban FilmMart to the big screen over the 11 years.

Some examples include the 2011 project Buddha in Africa directed by Nicole Schafer (SA) which premiered at HotDocs 2019, and had its SA premiere at Encounters and won Best SA Documentary at DIFF making it eligible for consideration for an Oscar nomination.  2014 projects which made it to the big screen include Kula – a Memory in 3 Acts directed by Inadelso Cossa (Mozambique), The Colonel’s Stray Dogs directed by Khali Shamis (SA), The Sound of Masks directed by Sara Gouveia (SA/Mozambique), Alison directed by Uga Carlini (SA). The 2015 alumni projects which were completed include Amal directed by Mohamed Siam (Egypt), Not in my Neighbourhood directed by Kurt Orderson (SA), The Giant is Falling (working title After Marikana) directed by Rehad Desai (SA) had its international premiere at IDFA. The 2016 project The Letter directed by Maia von Lekow and Chris King (Kenya) premiered at IDFA in 2019 and also from that year, Working Womxn directed by Shanelle Jewnarain (SA) is in production.

“There are plenty more examples of films that have pushed through from their initial concepts, into production and then onto distribution and or screening,” says Edkins. “The documentary film community in Africa is still small and working with the DFM we try to find new talent constantly and work with the industry to hold space for the documentary. I know there are highly creative and talented people out there who have brilliant ideas, and I would like to encourage them to submit these for consideration for this year’s edition.”

To submit a project go to http://www.durbanfilmmart.co.za/ProjectSubmissions

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