Having lunch with Michael Dell tommorow

Yes, that Michael Dell of Dell Computers.

Lionel Menchaca came up to me at the BlogHaus to thank me. For what? Well, he’s the guy that launched the Direct 2 Dell. At the time, Dell was under very very fierce attack from the blogosphere. I took the opposite stand. I understood what it was like to deploy blogs at a big tech company, and felt compassion for them. I’ve used Dell as a case study of a company that was taking major flack, learned to adapt and open up, sure it wasn’t perfect, sure it could have been done better, but I still felt compassion.

Lionel remembered this, and invited me to have lunch with Michael Dell tomorrow. I’ve been a Dell customer for a few years now. I used their products at Exodus, World Savings, and at Hitachi Data Systems. I even encouraged my Dad and sister to buy a Dell, as I was a fan of their user friendly website, and product support.

I’m having the hardest time thinking of some questions to ask, so what questions should I bring up? Please keep them intelligent and thoughtful.

Update: I found out the Blogger behind I Believe Dell lied will be there as well as John Biggs from CrunchGear, as well as a few other bloggers and press.

  • I think I’m going to ask him some questions about Social Media and how it’s impacted his brand.

    There’s going to be a few others bloggers and some customers. So I’m probably going to have to play it by ear.

  • We applaud a company as large as Dell for opening up an online conversation. But a conversation is two way. How do we know this is not just another pure Dell PR/Marketing event to showcase Dell products or to do damage control? What processes does Dell have in place to effectively move the information learned from their online community/conversation into the company.

    I also like to know if Dell has any serious plans to move beyond their present horizontal blog site to more niche blogs along their vertical markets such as K12.

    If the conversation becomes more product oriented, ask when if will ever see the Dell branded Windows tablet.

  • The core of Dell’s success is defining an business model that removed the inherent inefficiencies (inventory, delays, lack of quality control over the customer experience) of the existing (dealer based) model, and executing this (direct) model really well.

    You got rid of the middle man, but now it seems that the biggest barrier between you and the customer is your own organization, policies, yourself as a big company. So how will you take “Dell Direct” to this revolutionary new level of directness, like you did so many years ago?

  • chris

    Where to start?

    First – Dell’s recent & continuing (?) management changes inlcuding the appointment of a new CFO – Is Michael coming back as CEO?

    Is Dell open to the idea of privativation? While it seems improbable as this would be the largest privativation ever, Wall Street’s private equity firms are rumoring it.

    What is Dell doing to connect customer support experiences to performance improvement?

    Does the Dell way (direct to approach) play well in countries that have enormous populations of relatively cheap labor (China & India)? These countries seem to need the “middle man” to grow their economies and in some way encourage the middle man model.

    And …

    One could never end a discussion without asking what is up with the financial restatements. You will not get an answer but you need to ask.


  • Jeremiah,

    There are some good ideas here (battery, lack of ports, why did they have a PR agency run the blog at first, etc).

    The more I think about it – the more I think my experiences with http://www.musicfrisk.com would make me a good Podtecher – making a good interview is hard work!!!

  • Depending on how confrontational you want to be, you could ask the obvious question:

    “Dell’s strength has always been business margins and the direct-to-consumer, every-order-is-a-special-order website. In the last decade, business margins have become much tighter and most consumer PC manufacturers have a configure-to-order website now. What is Dell’s dominance strategy going into the next decade?”

    If this doesn’t get you shot or thrown out, it would be the question that everyone wants to know the answer to.


  • Over the last year or so, there’s been a strategic push to grow services. Results seem to have been mixed, however. How about an update on whether this is still a key strategic initiative, as well as challenges, lessons learned, new approaches, and changes that customers should look for as Dell continues to evolve services?

  • Don’t forget to call your buddy at PodTech with any scoops!

  • Hi Jeremiah
    Glad Lionel found you and that you will be spending some time with Michael at CES. Just to let you know, if you run out of time for all your questions or have follows up questions you think about later, and if you cant find Lionel at the CES, get in touch. We will be happy to see what we can do to follow up with more information for you and your readers. Have a good visit-Q&A.

  • Hi Jeremiah,

    I guess I would ask if they had plans to expand their entertainment options even more (like Apple).

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  • Thank you all for asking these questions. Some of these questions were asked by other folks (Podtech Video coming soon).

    I didn’t want to hog the Q&A, so I looked for a theme here in the comments and asked the question from Dan Sweet. (other comments revolve around how does Dell stay ‘small’)

    Thanks Richard at Dell, I’ll be exploring some of these questions in other posts. Please stay close to us.

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