x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dell to unshackle workers from desks

Dell is targeting the public sector in the Middle East, which is still "heavily skewed" towards the use of desktop PCs.

"The usage of desktop here in the Middle East is actually quite significant, and is higher on average than you would see globally," said Aongus Hegarty, the president for Dell in Europe, the Middle East and Africa Emea. Jeff Topping / The National

Government workers in the Middle East are still chained to their desktop computers - but one technology firm is trying to reinvent the experience.

The rise of laptops and tablet computers has hit growth of desktop-PC sales over the past few years.

The tipping point came in 2008, when 38.6 million laptops were sold globally, compared to 38.5 million static PCs, according to the research firm iSuppli.

But in the Middle East, desktop computers are more widespread than the global average, according to the technology firm Dell.

"The usage of desktop here in the Middle East is actually quite significant, and is higher on average than you would see globally," said Aongus Hegarty, the president for Dell in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea).

Consumers are increasingly turning to mobile devices such as laptops, Mr Hegarty said.

But Michael Collins, the manager of Dell's emerging markets division in the Emea region, said the public sector still had an attachment to desktop PCs.

"This region still has quite a high mix of desktop in the non-consumer space. Government and education are still heavily skewed towards desktop," he said.

Dell this year spent a reported US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) in acquiring Wyse Technology, based in California, which specialises in "virtual desktop" technology.

Such technology allows users to access their data on multiple PC terminals. A doctor could look at an X-ray on one screen, and then walk down the corridor and quickly access the same image on another computer.

"That's his virtual desktop, it follows him wherever he goes," said Mr Collins. Following its acquisition of Wyse, Dell has stepped up the marketing of "virtual desktop" technology to Middle East public sector organisations, Mr Collins said. "That will expand our portfolio of virtual desktop offering," he said. "There's a lot of demand now coming from education ... A lot of our engagements are with public-sector customers."

Mr Hegarty said the uptake of the "virtual desktop", along with greater use of mobile devices such as laptops, was one of the trends he saw in the Middle East public sector.

Dell said this year its performance in the Middle East region was better than in the rest of the world.

In the last three months of last year, Dell reported a drop in net income of 18 per cent, to $764 million. But the Emea region bucked the trend, with Dell reporting an 8 per cent increase in sales during the fourth quarter.

"We're very pleased with our business here in the region," said Mr Hegarty.

In the UAE market, Dell said notebooks sales were up in the fourth quarter, although desktop shipments experienced a "significant decline" on the same period in 2010.

Along with Wyse, Dell has acquired the technology-security company SonicWall, on which it spent a reported $1.2bn.

"We're doing about six or seven acquisitions per year over the last three years," said Mr Hegarty.

"We continue to look across all regions."

bflanagan@thenational.ae

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