Walk into Dell Corp.'s new four-story corporate headquarters insouthwest Austin's West Lake Hills neighborhood and you are struckby the simplicity. Here's this $32.6 billion high-tech giant, andthe fanciest thing in the lobby is a couple of plants and a glasscase enclosing posted EEOC guidelines. It is a no-frills stylefitting for chairman and CEO Michael Dell's direct-sales approach.No wining and dining here. It's about delivering technology, at theright price, fast.
By now, most of us are familiar with Dell's legendary success - adirect-to-the-customer, build-to-order PC business founded in 1984from its namesake's University of Texas dorm room.
Now, at a still youthful 36, Dell is considered an old-timer in abusiness environment where successful companies succeed fast, andstruggling ones bite the dust just as quickly.
But slow Dell is not. Over the past five years, the company hasincreased its market share by 22 to 24 percent in every productline, compared with six-tenths of a percentage point by its nextfour competitors collectively. Dell also recently toppled rivalCompaq from its perch as the world's top computer systemsmaker.
Navigating this landscape successfully has earned Dell a reputationfor managerial brilliance that induces many an executive to imitatehis change-friendly, turn-on-a-dime corporate culture. And now,Dell's Internet strategy is one more reason business people ask,"How does Michael Dell do it?" The company's online ordering andfulfillment system is so successful that 50 percent of sales comevia its Web site, even as the once-golden words "dot-com" have losttheir luster. Not that Dell has escaped the slowdown. Sluggish PCsales and a faltering economy resulted in first-ever large-scalelayoffs at the company this year.