Published: March 20th, 2018

Deanna Thomson describes 2017 as an epic year by every measurement, and we can’t help but agree. The national director for Canadian channel sales at Dell EMC moved into her role at the end of 2016, and hasn’t missed a beat since. When informed of her first-place finish, Thomson was speechless for what felt like several minutes.

“Wow, I’m honoured beyond words. I’m going to make my husband take me out for dinner,” she laughed. “We had a huge job on our hands in making sure the Dell-EMC merger was seamless for all our customers. We had some bumps along the way, of course, and nothing was 100 per cent perfect, but 2017 really exceeded my expectations in terms of the work that we did in the field with our partners and it’s fantastic to be recognized for that.”

Thomson witnessed the one-year anniversary of the mega Dell-EMC merger in September and made sure the transition was smooth for Canadian channel partners. She ushered in a freshly consolidated channel partner program early on in the year and helped the Canadian community understand where they fell under the new regionalized tiered system.

“This new program was designed to create alignment between us and our partners. And every quarter, we listened to their feedback, both at the field level and our partner advisory board, and made tweaks and changes as we went along,” she told CDN. “When you think about how we built both of our companies [Dell and EMC], that’s really been the cornerstone: listening to our customers and their partners and then building their feedback into the programs that we deliver.”

Feedback from Canadian partners has been positive, Thomson added. All year long, she lived up to Dell EMC’s motto: simple, predictable, and profitable. Her department saw more than 4,000 net new deal registrations this year, resulting in the Dell EMC Canadian channel growing by 28 per cent year over year.“I set a very lofty three-year goal when I first started in this role, and we’re going to exceed that plan by at least six months, if not more,” she said. “We’re growing faster than the market, and that’s exciting not just for Dell EMC but for our partners in general because they’re making this happen and they’re seeing the benefits.”

In July, 23-year company veteran Kevin Connolly was named president of Dell EMC Canada Commercial after Kevin Peesker stepped down from the role. To help partners adjust to the change, Thomson helped created a “Meet the Presidents” webcast, a Canadian-only initiative meant to foster a more “intimate dialogue between Dell EMC partners and the leadership team.”

“We’ve had two ‘Meet the Presidents’ so far and we’re really just using it to help everyone understand our key priorities and align themselves with it. One featured Kevin Connolly and the other featured Mike Sharun [president of Dell EMC Canada Enterprise]. We want to be open with our partners and this enables them to hear directly from our service leaders in terms of what their needs and requirements are,” Thomson explained.

Dell EMC as a whole also had a busy year, launching in November its new SC All-Flash storage array to help customers modernize their data centres, several software updates to Dell EMC Unity, and the new Future-Proof Storage Loyalty Program, which offers no-risk guarantees, money-saving benefits, investment protection, and value throughout the lifetime of the Dell EMC Unity and SC Series products.

The highlights continue: At Dell EMC World in May, the company unveiled a PC-as-a-Service solution that combined all of its client-devices, software, security, and deployment services into a monthly subscription plan. At the same time, it also released its 14th generation PowerEdge server portfolio for the data centre and made it available worldwide in July. It also announced the Dell EMC X-Series networking product line would be available exclusively through distribution partners in June.

One of the biggest moves Dell EMC made in 2017, however, was in creating a new Internet of Things (IoT) department – the first division that encompasses the entire breadth of the Dell Technologies family. It gave channel partners in the IoT Solutions Partner Program access to every IoT solution under the company’s umbrella.

When asked to name her favourite part of the year, Thomson cited the Dell EMC Forum that was held in October in Toronto for IT professionals and customers. The British Columbia native was able to show off her country and all the great Canadian channel partners to Dell EMC global leadership.

“It was definitely a highlight; all the partners really enjoyed the whole day and we loved the great feedback,” she said.

Thomson told CDN that 2018 will see a sustained focus on Dell EMC data centre and hyperconverged solutions. More importantly, she emphasized the overarching goal moving forward will be to continue strategically aligning the multiple business arms of Dell Technologies, which includes Dell, Dell EMC, VMware, Pivotal, Virtustream, Secureworks, and RSA.