Will have to see what Mark Cuban has to say about Dell's return.
The model he invented - and means to revolutionize - is "Dell Direct," meaning direct contact with every customer, via telephone, Internet, or Dell's in-house sales force, and every computer built to order. It was a powerful differentiator for many years, fueling extraordinary growth and attracting delegations of admirers from all over the world to Dell's Round Rock, Texas, campus. But it's less of an advantage now as computer hardware becomes ever more a commodity, squeezing margins ever tighter. "The thing I've been saying internally is," Dell says, borrowing Sonnenfeld's metaphor, "the direct model is not a religion. It's a great strategy, works well; there are things we can do with it. But that's not the only thing we can do as a company."
Everyone agrees that on the way from $31 billion in sales in 2001 to nearly $60 billion last year, "we did not absorb the sheer size and the exponential increase in complexity well," according to Paul Bell, who led Dell's expansion in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and was recently reassigned to the Americas. Carty has a more succinct analysis: "You can't grow op-ex faster than revenue. Duh!" Which is why Wall Street is clamoring for layoffs, and will probably get its wish.
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