Dell Technologies: Delivering business outcomes

Dell Technologies

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ISJ speaks exclusively with Dell Technologies’ Hayley Tabor about the role of data, computer vision and AI/ML in accelerating business transformation.

Consider the differences in processes used to create energy, manufacture goods, deliver omni-channel capabilities in retail, accelerate life sciences research, deliver healthcare or make cities more liveable.

Interestingly, everything can be improved through data, powered by computer vision and AI/ML – and more organisations are accepting the challenge to use data to further their goals.

Nearly every industry today is looking to computer vision technology to attain personnel and facility safety and security, improved customer or employee experiences, operational efficiencies, sustainability and enhanced revenue generation.

In this Head to Head Exclusive, ISJ spoke to Dell Technologies’ Hayley Tabor, Vice President of Dell Technologies Global Industries, about how the company has built a ubiquitous foundation of computer vision, federated analytics and learning and cybersecurity to help industries deliver better business outcomes.

Can you tell us about your customers’ business challenges, especially in regard to digital transformation efforts? And, what is your view of the value of data?

Over the last two years, we have seen our customers go through unprecedented change and, in response to this, we as technology and solution providers have had to shift how we address our customers’ business challenges and how we engage with new business stakeholders.

We are seeing every industry around the world evolve.

The value of data has never been so important and transformation is at the centre of our customer’s business insights and their ability to remain competitive.

Many industries were forced to accelerate transformation, for example, in healthcare. Virtual health has driven new use cases including virtual care, telemedicine, clinical monitoring and online visits.

These new use cases are driving demand for technology that didn’t even exist two years ago, creating an explosive opportunity for data curation to drive greater insights. Healthcare facilities simply cannot afford downtime or fall short on speed to diagnosis and speed to care.

Advancements in precision medicine allow medical professionals to diagnose and deliver a personalised healthcare plan faster than ever before.

On top of that, the healthcare industry expects exponential growth due to digital pathology, clinical genomics and similar advanced technologies Critical decision making is now data driven, which requires quality and timeliness.

Data needs to be processed, analysed and acted on in real time to be worthwhile. This means being able to make near real time decisions to mitigate risk and improve the quality of care.

We work with all types of industries to maximise the insights extracted from their data.

This informs future strategy for competitive differentiation, refines priorities to deliver convenient and frictionless experiences and drives sustainable and ethical business while balancing cost with innovation and profit growth.

How do companies protect all of that data and what else does security entail?

Security is a primary concern across industries.

Maintaining the security and privacy of confidential information, such as healthcare records and intellectual property, is absolutely critical. Dell Technologies’ cyber-strategy goes beyond what most companies are doing.

We offer endpoint security, vulnerability and penetration testing tools, in addition to threat analysis and mitigation.

Security also extends to the safety of people, physical facilities and business processes.

We see this in the energy industry, which faces significant cyber-threats to the management consoles for pipelines, substations and electrical grids.

Dell Technologies provides a portfolio of end-to-end solutions as well as partnerships to enable energy producers to become more agile while ensuring the reliability, resiliency and safety of their infrastructures.

For example, electrical utilities can use vehicle-mounted hardware and computer vision/AI technology to collect and quickly analyse data on the distribution grid, using trucks already in their fleet.

Computer vision systems with advanced analytics are also instrumental in bolstering retail and supply chain security. An AI-driven computer vision system, using visual and historical data, offers real time situational awareness to potentially unsafe situations.

A maintenance staff member can be notified of spilled substances that could cause an accident. The same system that is providing security can also use that same data to impact operational efficiency for use cases such as vegetation control and remote substation equipment monitoring.

We’ve created toolsets and an infrastructure that can protect the entire supply chain, from energy generation to delivery.

We hear a lot about the proliferation of sensors and how compute is moving to the edge. What is your view?

As mentioned, many industries are well underway with digital transformation. In many cases, this transformation is built on three pillars.

First, the convergence of IT and OT systems from the edge to the core to the cloud. Second, the deployment of real time autonomous OT systems at the edge. And third, a holistic approach to modern cyber-resilience.

To address these industry requirements, Dell Technologies works with application and delivery partners to create a comprehensive portfolio of solutions, meeting present needs and those that will come in the future.

Today, we are seeing an increased inclusion of edge technologies.

The edge is where the physical world meets the digital world and where data is gathered from devices, sensors and machines.

That data is processed to create new value, such as actionable insights. To process data efficiently and gain insights, Dell Technologies offers a federated analytics and learning platform that provides compute and data storage at the edge.

Running computational processes – via AI and ML – on datasets at the edge delivers real time, actionable insights where it’s needed and secures the data because only the encrypted results of the inferencing are sent across the network.

A great example of this is an automotive supply company that has accelerated deployment of its smart factory edge workloads on the same infrastructure as enterprise applications to give it a competitive advantage.

Smart factories are enabling multiple use cases to accelerate business outcomes; organisations need an enterprise class edge. Manufacturing organisations are realising that technology infrastructure is an asset.

They require the same enterprise class infrastructure at the edge as they have in data centres, requiring scalability, repeatability, manageability and security.

Many companies now offer computer vision and AI/ML at the edge – why would a potential customer turn to Dell Technologies for a similar solution?

One of our biggest differentiators is the ability to deliver validated designs for industry solutions. Validated designs are engineered purpose-built solutions that meet the specific needs of each customer.

These designs are created by a team of experts, who have years of experience in the relevant industry. Validated designs are key to our strategy and unique to Dell Technologies.

We’re investing in extensive testing and optimisation of hardware and applications targeted to workloads.

For example, the Dell Validated Design for Retail Edge is an intelligent warehouse automation and robotic-assisted pick and pack system.

It is designed to simplify the deployment of intelligent warehouse management to turn existing warehouse and retail spaces into micro-fulfilment centres.

The solution improves worker productivity by the use of intelligent scanners and intuitive interfaces and the incorporation of robotics reduces process time.

Dell is dedicated to validating and commercialising independent software vendor (ISV) solutions to de-risk the purchase for customers.

We leverage our ISV partners’ invaluable deep knowledge about processes and workloads, coupled with service offerings, to deliver, deploy and integrate.

There’s a significant amount of due diligence that is required to create an operational engine that validates ISVs to deliver optimised, repeatable and commercially viable solutions.

In healthcare, as well as in the life sciences, we validate and test ISVs faster and more thoroughly than anyone else in the industry.

Our healthcare solutions enable hospitals to adopt technology quicker and deliver better performance more effectively and securely.

Likewise, with Dell Technologies’ computer vision and AI/ML, life sciences companies are equipped to more rapidly deliver breakthroughs and bring scientific innovations to market.

The partner ecosystem – a key component of our validated designs – is critical to customer success. With the ecosystem and Dell’s validated design accelerating their time to value.

One of our customers, a large retailer, generates 80% of its 11 TB of data at the edge from OT use cases versus the remaining two TB from traditional IT use cases.

The retailer wanted seamless access to its data to generate AI/ML-derived actionable insights but its IT and OT workloads were disjointed and siloed.

Dell’s dedicated vertical subject matter experts worked with the retailer to consolidate these high value workloads onto a single platform leveraging a future-state infrastructure.

This purpose-built, consolidated platform with edge operations software simplified the edge and broke down the silos. Using analytics software with AI/ML at its foundation, it gained the ability to derive near real time insights, which helps them make time sensitive decisions.

The net result was that the retailer achieved its goal of generating AI/ML derived insights at scale with a single practical, impactful and validated solution designed to deliver high value outcomes.

What types of operational efficiencies and enhanced revenues are your customers realising with computer vision and federated analytics platforms?

In the retail value chain [for example], the steps a company takes to deliver a product or service to customers is a vast and complex ecosystem.

This provides enormous opportunities for companies to streamline processes and operations.

Computer vision and AI/ML helps retailers leverage and derive new insights from data to transform entire business operations to eliminate inefficiencies, reduce overheads, accelerate time to market and provide customers convenient and engaging shopping experiences from farm to fork, design to delivery and manufacturing to maintenance, whether it is warehouse robotics to improve order fulfilment, preventing theft within the store or modernising the last mile.

A product journey may start in manufacturing, but it doesn’t end there. The journey continues through the retail value chain to deliver products to consumers.

Technologies like edge computing are providing foundations for high value use cases that are delivering hard to ignore ROIs. One of our top US retail customers deployed loss prevention and reduced theft by 40% with a nine month payback period and delivered 300% ROI.

That paved the way to deploy curbside pickup and inventory management on the same platform, avoiding point solutions and growing profitability.

Equally, smart cities have adopted the capabilities of computer vision and AI/ML to monitor traffic flows and alleviate congestion and to increase ridership and fuel efficiency in public transportation. Technologies can also connect energy and utilities with smart cities.

New technologies like AI/ML, virtual reality, 5G and digital twins all require significant computing power at the edge. Best in class organisations are starting to broaden their enterprise edge investments.

No two companies are alike and our validated design solutions provide unique capabilities to be their strategic infrastructure.

How does Dell Technologies support and impact sustainability?

Dell Technologies’ mission to advance human progress through technology is reflected in our sustainable manufacturing process.

Dell has taken a leadership position, developing infrastructure from recycled materials and engaging with our vendors to modernise our manufacturing.

With energy companies, governments and technology providers working together, we can accelerate the energy transition, advance decarbonisation and ensure energy security, achieving a profound impact on global society and the climate.

By implementing our validated design solutions, facilities can better utilise resources like power and water and minimise waste, thus creating a more sustainable environment.

Have you got any final thoughts you would like to share?

Data has never been so important. IT infrastructure has become a strategic asset for businesses and we’re delivering validated solutions for our customers.

Edge technologies and AI can help companies achieve true competitive differentiation, put brands on the map and create impactful business outcomes.

As Michael Dell has stated: ‘The real opportunity is to reimagine your organisation and what you can become given the superpowers AI unleashes. If you’re not applying AI across your organisation and thinking deeply about reinvention, you’re already behind.’

The Dell Technologies’ Computer Vision Platform combines centralised and distributed, lab-validated AI architectures to help address the challenges posed by the increase in computing at the edge.

The opportunity is here and we are prepared. We look forward to taking this journey together.

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