Few CEOs have witnessed more change from the same seat as Michael Dell. When he founded Dell in the 1980s, his Austin company was among the first to sell PCs by mail, often at a lower price and with better tech support than established competitors offered. The '90s saw Dell extend that lean and mean approach to become a pioneer in user-customized systems and just-in-time manufacturing. And in the 2000s, with the rise of Linux, Dell established itself as a leading supplier of hardware to the data center -- both x86 servers and enterprise storage systems.
Today, Michael Dell oversees a global corporation that, with the 2009 acquisition of Perot Systems, has become an enterprise solutions company targeting the midmarket. The strategy appears to be working: When Dell announced its FY11 results in February, it reported the largest revenue increase in the company's history.
As part of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Chief Content Officer John Gallant -- along with InfoWorld Editor in Chief Eric Knorr and InfoWorld Executive Editor Doug Dineley -- sat down for a 45-minute interview with Michael Dell. Along the way, Dell was willing to speculate about new devices that blur the line between notebook and tablet and even about what the industry might have been like had his venture never gotten off the ground. We began by asking him to elaborate on his company's decision to put solutions, rather than hardware, first.