'At the forefront of technology': Jason Ward on The Dell Technologies Forum

  • Sync NI caught up with Jason Ward, Vice President and Managing Director, Dell Technologies, ahead of their annual conference.

    Digital transformation has accelerated exponentially over the last two years. What would you consider to be the most radical change that will benefit companies in the near future?

    In the past two years businesses across the island of Ireland have embraced technology at an unprecedented speed. From enabling much of the population to work from home to transforming business models, we now live and work in a data-driven age.

    Not only is data the lifeblood of organisations within both the public and private sectors, it is also critical to helping businesses navigate a more challenging economic landscape.

    As we look to the future, we can how see the emergence of digital twinning will continue to be a game changer in certain sectors.

    It has been particularly transformational in healthcare where you can now accelerate the design and development of new drugs. With the Covid-19 vaccine a more recent example the role of digital twinning in helping to make it possible to rapidly run tests and trial drugs has been fascinating and a real example of the impact of digital transformation in action.

    Another sector where this has been evident has been in the auto industry. Car manufacturers are as a result now able to embrace digital twinning in the creation of new cars to help harness a particular design or manufacturing process without having to physically manufacture a piece of equipment. This is a process adopted across many sectors and has dramatically increased the speed and agility with which a variety of sectors can now manufacture and develop new products helping to drive innovation and meet consumer demand.

    So that combined the whole area of AI in helping to enhance the predictability of how businesses can respond to customer needs and continue to grow while mitigating against risk and volatility in the market.

    You recently spoke at Big Data Belfast 2022 alongside the Head of Technology for the McLaren F1 racing team and  shared some mind blowing statistics on the amount of data sets you collect and analyse during a typical race weekend. Can you share some of these insights for those that missed the event?

    F1 is one of the most demanding sports out there and over the last 25 years has embraced technology and the use of data – moving from a manual to a data driven sport.

    Dell Technologies became the official technology partner of McLaren Group and the McLaren Formula 1 team in 2018 - helping to digitize McLaren’s business including its infrastructure, workplace, applications, and security. Dell’s solutions are integrated into McLaren’s day-to-day operations, from design and manufacturing, trackside, and base operations to fan engagement and guest experiences, storage, safety-critical ecosystems, and McLaren’s esports programme.

    Our expertise in hardware and software solutions is being used across the McLaren group - supporting everything from the enterprise edge, data centre and cloud, to consumer gaming and esports.

    This allows McLaren to run 300-million simulations of each race, so that the team on the pit wall have the best possible insights and advice on what to do in a given race scenario.

    They're making lots of different changes to the car set up right through the racing season. They're able to do that because of all the data that they gather, through test, practice and the race itself, and in turn use that data to inform simulations.

    I mentioned digital twinning earlier, so being able to extract and manage, utilise, simulate, test and use all that data and then put it into production is a really critical thing. Our technology enables them to do that in a very efficient way, so effectively for every race we build a mini data centre at each location to run all of those simulations, to manage all of the cars and all of the processing of data for those cars for each race. It's pretty fascinating when you think about it – that’s 22 data centres we set up every year.

    The annual Dell Forum conference on 27th September has an exciting line up of speakers. Without giving away too many spoilers, what should attendees to the conference expect to learn?

    Dell Technologies is at the forefront of technology whether it's workplace transformation; security transformation; application transformation or digital transformation and at the Dell Technologies Forum on September 27th we'll be discussing all these areas. We’ll have Chris Wiley, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower speaking at the event and sharing with us some of the insights he has on the cyber landscape the internet more generally and the wider impact of cyber risk on society and businesses into the future

    The Forum will have a big focus on cyber but we'll also be showcasing everything from delivered as-a-service, sustainability and hybrid working to modernised and secure technologies and enabling AI decision-making at the edge. We’ll be looking at our multi-cloud strategies and how we're working with all of the hyper scalers like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to drive efficiencies and unlock new benefits for businesses.

    A special focus will be placed on sustainability and what Dell is doing to support the global economy as well as our customers in accelerating the journey to net zero.

    Conference delegates will also get to hear from more than 30 of Dell’s own experts in a wide area of topics including Cyber Security, Cloud Solutions as well as Dell’s APEX suite of products and services, of all the emerging technology in these fields what excites you most?

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one technology which can foster breakthrough innovations and help address the challenges facing our planet. At the Dell Technologies Forum we'll have an interesting session around AI and reimagining the way we work and how AI can help us embrace and develop a reimagined hybrid working model.  We will look at what happens when you leave your home and you come into the office, how do your work, your device and your applications follow you and enable you to seamlessly work between different locations. From an environmental perspective, we’ll be looking at how technology can play a part in driving efficiencies and cutting costs for organisations around how they run their data centres and core infrastructure.

    With the launch of Apex Data Storage Services into the Irish market earlier this year, we’ll be looking at how business leaders can harness the value of this as-a-service solution for their organisations.

    As we consider the current economic outlook, there's a huge amount of cost pressure on organisations around how they can invest in digital solutions to help drive innovation. It’s with this in mind that we created APEX. Effectively APEX is taking everything Dell has to offer, including storage, and packaging it into a subscription-based offering and enabling organisations to take all of these Dell services and solutions on a monthly subscription basis without the need for large intensive capital investment. We're now going to take the entire Dell portfolio and provide that to customers on a consumption as a service monthly fee basis, which is extremely powerful for businesses looking to grow while protecting their costs structures.

    How important is ESG for a business and how can Dell support this?

    At Dell, we understand that ESG is a business imperative. Driving human progress is at the heart of our company’s mission. That’s why our ESG strategy is led from the very top and gives equal treatment to all three elements - environment, social and governance. 

    For each area, we have set out Moonshot Goals of how we can create a positive and lasting social impact. Through our annual reporting, we demonstrate how we are making this progress real as well as spotlighting where we need to do more as a business. We strive to ensure that 50% of our global workforce and 40% of our global people leaders made up by those who identify as women by 2030

    In addition, we’re focused on advancing health, education and economic opportunity initiatives to deliver enduring results for 1 billion people by 2030.

    We've taken important steps to reduce our impact on the planet, in particular around recycling and further decreasing the carbon footprint of our products. At Dell, we’ve pledged that for every product a customer buys, we will reuse or recycle an equivalent product, with 100% of its packaging being made from recycled or renewable material by 2030.

    We understand that reaching these targets requires leading with purpose.

    That’s why we have put in place strong oversight structures at the very top of our company to ensure that we not only develop and manage our social impact initiatives but most importantly to measure progress.

    With over 30 years at the cutting edge of technology working within leading global companies and managing multiple teams what would you consider to be your proudest achievement to date?

    Obviously leading the Dell Technologies Ireland team to three years of tremendous growth has been a proud achievement. It’s been particularly rewarding to have had the opportunity to mentor and encourage the professional development of a truly diverse team. Former team members that have worked with me have actually gone on to expand their roles within Dell while others have progressed to other leadership roles across the technology sector. In the past few weeks, I’ve met with a team member who is managing the Asia region for a large software company while a former female colleague within my team has gone on to run a successful start-up. To have those relationships with the people I work with and have worked with previously is really something that I'm proud of. It has been hugely rewarding to share my experiences and insights and see how that support has helped them on their own career journey.  

    Is there any one person you would consider to be your greatest motivator or mentor that helped you forge a successful career in technology?

    There are many people who've helped me on my journey. On your journey to a successful career there is now doubt that working with great people is key to this – they help inspire you, help you grow and help you unlock new opportunities. I’ve been lucky to work with probably five really great leaders who have given me opportunities, inspired and helped me which is my mantra in terms of how I run my teams today.

    In terms of what inspired me to enter the technology sector, that would have to be Nolan Bushnell, one of the founders of Atari. When I was a kid back in the day, I remember getting my first Atari console with floppy drives. I saw what you could do playing computer games with basic programming. I thought this is where technology is going, and it sparked a life-long interest in how technology can help deliver new products and services.

    Then just after Nolan it was Andy Grove at Intel. Andy was the third CEO of Intel, which has played a pivotal role in shaping the semiconductor industry and helping to fuel the growth of technology. I read a good bit about Andy around what he did and how he drove the business. He was a fascinating character and for me it was very much about good leadership by giving people the power and the autonomy to do well.

    He had a unique mantra. He used to say ‘let the chaos reign, and then reign in the chaos’. In essence, give your team the freedom to innovate and do things differently and then review and look at what's working and what isn't.

    Thirdly, it has to be Michael Dell who is a world class leader and has been a cutting-edge leader over his four decades at Dell.

    For a school leaver or graduate just starting out on their journey and hoping to forge a career in technology what important piece of advice would you offer?

    You won’t regret it!

    The technology industry is rapidly changing and wherever your interest lies there’s a career for you within it. At Dell Technologies we’re always recruiting graduates and the passion they bring to our teams is infectious.

    I’d say to anyone with a curious mind looking for an exciting and fast paced career to go pursue a career in STEM related industries. Technology is at the heart of every sector now and is radically changing the world of work.

    Be curious, learn as much as you can, as often as you can, and embrace change. If you do those three things, you'll have a very successful career.

    The Dell Technologies Forum is run in partnership with Intel and Microsoft. For more information and to register for this free event, click here.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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