By Melissa Borden
Reprinted with permission from the Abilene Reporter-News
Young entrepreneurs should prepare to compete in a more global marketplace, Dell Inc. Chairman Michael Dell told a group at Abilene Christian University on Tuesday.
Dell spoke via videoconference to about 500 students, faculty and staff at in the Hart Auditorium at ACU as part of its ongoing distinguished speaker series.
Dell answered questions from the audience about everything from how he got started in business to the future of the personal computer world.
Dell has operated Dell Inc. for more than 20 years. He started the computer company in his dormitory room at the University of Texas in 1984. The company, which employs more than 50,000 people worldwide, designs, develops, manufactures, markets and sells a range of computer systems and services.
Dell told the standing-room-only crowd on Tuesday that it should prepare "for an even more global, fast-paced and challenging world."
Kevin Tippens, with Dell's international finance services, agreed. Tippens has worked with Dell for five years, and also worked in Germany, Australia and in other countries.
"Lots of technologies really allow the world to seem smaller than it once was," Tippens said.
Globalization started picking up after the end of the Cold War, Tippens said. With the spread of capitalization and democracy, new markets have been tapped all over the world in technology and other industries.
Dell said he sees the company doing well in the global arena.
"If you want to be a part of a successful company, that's usually not done by replicating something," Dell said. "What I happened to do is find a very large market that was very inefficient and could be changed through a method of selling and distribution."
As the worldwide market grows, so does Dell. It is now making great gains in emerging markets such as China and India, Dell said, and continuing to grab market share in the Un
ited States. "The customer has control of the industry," Dell said. "Our business is about understanding what those needs are and responding to that."
Keeping on the cutting edge of technology is sometimes a difficult task that can be overcome through teamwork and trial and error.
Today, Dell works with Dell Inc. Chief Executive Officer Kevin Rollins to operate the company, which reported revenues of $38.2 billion for the last four quarters.
Dell said he's earned the success he has by surrounding himself with a great team of employees who are dedicated to listening to the customer.
"In the management of the company, if I try to control things, it becomes self-limiting," Dell said. "If all the decisions have to roll up to one central place ... it becomes a bottle-neck process."
One of his biggest mistakes, Dell said, was in the early 1990s, when Dell Inc. entered computer superstores. However, superstores were never a large part of Dell Inc.'s revenue, and Dell said the company refocused on direct sales and its online market.
"The reason I'm here today is that we haven't made any mistakes that were massively fatal," he said. ''We would rather focus on problems and challenges" because that is where the potential for growth lies.
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