Dell IT

The Forgotten Tribe and the Dell Digital Way

Jim Roth By Jim Roth Senior Vice President, Dell Digital June 3, 2018

As digital transformation hype continues to grow, IT is still an enabling function that exists to deliver business outcomes. As with other support functions like human resources finance and legal, in IT it’s very common to refer to functions outside of IT as “the business”. The business is trying to grow margin dollars. The business is trying to increase productivity. The business is trying to reduce customer effort.   But who is this nameless faceless business that IT supports? The face of the business is the forgotten tribethe tribe of users – the people that actually use your software tools, sometimes for many hours a day.

Our Dell Digital team is working hard to put a face on the business to enable exceptional outcomes even faster and with less re-work. We call it the Dell Digital Way – a major cultural shift for us built on people, process and technology.  Heavily inspired by our brothers and sisters at Pivotal we’re combining elements of design thinking, Agile, SAFe, extreme programming and IoT. That’s a lot of jargon so what exactly are we doing? We’re taking the Pivotal methodology adding in a few dashes of our own and applying across everything that we do.

First we start with user empathy which is the hallmark of design thinking and we are doing it with professionally trained designers – actually spending time to understand not only what our users do but how they do it and what motivates them. Qualitative empathy is critical but I can’t do it justice compared to the classic TedX talk by Doug Dietz. What we learned is that users care most about an effortless experience and far less about new bells and whistles. In their hierarchy of needs users want applications that are first up, then fast and ultimately easy.

Our human-centered approach brings qualitative and quantitative approaches together. We’ve adopted an iterative approach focused on user empathy with elements of Agile, extreme programming and SAFe to release small increments in days or weeks. We always write test cases before developing of any user story.  Finally we instrument our applications (not just the website) in the spirit of IoT. The software application itself is the thing and instrumentation gives us performance and adoption feedback so we can continue to fine-tune our interface configuration as well as optimizing performance of backend calls. Using this quantitative empathy we can begin the cycle or qualitative empathy over again at the start of the next cycle.

A great example of where we’ve applied this approach is in our current Salesforce Service Cloud implementation. We started by setting up a lab in our contact center and selected a team of users that represented a small sample of the total user population. Our team of product managers, designers and engineers spent hours and days observing and building rapport with the users. In parallel they started configuring (never customizing) the application and doing demos with the users. Prior to configuring each user story they wrote test cases to ensure story success.

There’s a common misconception that you don’t need UX with SaaS because there’s already a UI. When you decide to go with a SaaS application you are outsourcing UI but the UX is still in your hands. SaaS platforms generally give you enough degrees of freedom to overwhelm users if you don’t make a conscious commitment to design and control complexity throughout the life of the application. If you empathize with your users and apply design and analytics properly, you’ll see this forgotten tribe celebrate their tools instead of wrestling with them, improving the employee experience and ultimately benefiting customers. This is the art of delivering a world class end-user experience and the outcome we expect with the Dell Digital Way.

Jim Roth

About Jim Roth

Senior Vice President, Dell Digital

Jim Roth serves as the Senior Vice President of Services and Marketing for Dell Digital. In this role he is responsible for digitally transforming services and marketing at Dell EMC through software platforms including customer relationship management, marketing automation, field service and self-service on and

Jim has held a variety of senior level marketing, operations and product development roles. Prior to his current role, he led global services product development and marketing.

Jim holds dual bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree from Northwestern University and a Master’s Degree in Management from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

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One thought on “The Forgotten Tribe and the Dell Digital Way

  1. This is spot on. Technology in, and of, itself does not drive business value. This “lost tribe” (love it) was often a second thought in the IT decisions of the past. By combining the consumer along with the developer and the designer you will deliver the business outcome they desire, in a stable and accelerated manner, and be able to leverage the efficiency and power of a cloud platform to provide it.