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Dell chief lays down rules for ‘Internet revolutionaries’

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Michael Dell, of Dell, has a modest view of what he terms "rules for Internet revolutionaries" (and the contradiction between "rules" and revolutionaries" has clearly not occurred to him - the titled sounds borrowed). Dell's success is based on not rocking the boat, and being a solid PC player that has shrugged off the Internet computer that "was reintroduced every two years". Speaking at the IDC European IT Forum in Paris today, he offered the view that what will happen with the Internet is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. His "rules" were that what counts is the velocity of a business; its efficiency in execution; and his belief that the customer experience must be better than in the physical world. For Dell, the advantage of the Internet strategy is that it cuts its costs. He was well aware that his inventory declined in value at 1 per cent/week, so that having perfect knowledge of future user needs was important if inventory is to be kept at a minimal level. His reasoning was perhaps flawed by his narrow focus on US users, who apparently wanted a great deal of noise and flashing lights on websites that they visited. Maybe it's to do with the short attention span of Americans, conditioned as they are by frenetic snatches of TV and advertisements. To Dell, efficiency is as important as the quality of products and services, which may prove somewhat disconcerting to those who would rather have a reliable system than one delivered a day earlier. Dell has become very enthusiastic about dealing with "service issues" (which means faults, real and imagined) by hooking up to the user's PC, with their permission of course. The idea is far from new, since this was certainly being done in the early 1980s with minicomputers, and in the 1970s with mainframes. No innovation here. What may well be new is the scale on which Dell hopes to do this. It appears that some 60 per cent of telephone problem solving consists of finding out the details of a user's system, so that being able to get this online saves considerable time - always assuming that the PC was still able to communicate. Asked about Dell's plans for Linux, the eponymous founder gave the safe answer: "Let the market decide", but Dell has already decided, and says, that in his view Linux would never overtake NT in the server market. ®

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