Dell’s sustainability program envisions a better future

Published: Dell Author’s Client.

One of the most interesting briefings I received at Dell Technologies World this week was Cassandra Garber, Vice President of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance). Because when I first talked to Dell about this in the early 2000’s, it was on the wrong side of the ESG effort.

There are two types of companies that talk about sustainability. One kind considers it a marketing tool with little substance; The other treats it like another religion. Dell’s initial effort was basically, “If you buy a product, we’ll plant a tree.” It sounds nice, but it is also a clear indicator that the lip service is working on this important topic. Since then, Dell has embraced its ESG commitment, financed it and showcased its efforts – such as Concept Luna, a sustainable design project that could redefine the technology market and make it greener.

Let’s talk about how Dell has increased its focus and credibility in ESG.

Emotion makes a difference

Proper ESG requires the leadership of someone who is supported by company executives with a passion for work. One of the things about Garber is the passion for ESG. Her eyes twinkle as she talks about the work she’s doing in executive compensation and rewards programs. While talking to several of Dell’s products, I noticed that they too are involved in this endeavor and are proud of projects like Concept Lunar, the first fully durable laptop computer used by Dell to demonstrate what is possible.

This passion covers the company, starting with Michael Dale and Jeff Clark at the top and including CMO Alison Dew and every product director I met at the event. Dell is serious about this effort, and it shows how aggressively it is changing things like the management metrics and the measure of corporate success.

Luna explains the idea

For Concept Lunar, I’ve had the opportunity to see it completely disassembled and reassembled, and the speed at which you can disassemble a laptop is not surprising. With a little practice, you will be able to tear down the machine completely in a matter of minutes. Dell even uses organic substances that can be safely dissolved to reduce exposure to contaminants when the product is finally discarded. (And this idea now fully embraces the “right to repair” effort through industry.)

The liquid immersion cools

There was another interesting idea in the show that looked like a modern, heated cryo-sarcophagus with a clam shell open on top. Seriously, it looked like a sci-fi movie. It contains a non-conductive liquid where you place the servers, which is much more efficient and much more profitable in removing heat than air. (This technology is especially effective for crypto mining.)

The liquid should also reduce the possibility of any water intrusion, which can cause corrosion, damage to the submerged computer. Even at the highest level of performance, you should not have heat-related failures.

The sarcophagus is opened upwards – it will be great in future Dracula movies – but it had a very important and practical purpose: to reduce the costs associated with cooling, as well as significantly increase the cooling efficiency.

Unfortunately, there was no staff at the booth showing this hardware, so I couldn’t get the full backstory. But it seemed to be part of the effort.

ESG is moving forward

There are several things that need to be put together to make ESG work well. One of the most exciting efforts I have seen is run by David Roman, the former CMO of HP, who used HP’s philanthropic budget to maximize HP’s marketing impact while trying to accomplish good HP performance at the time. What he did was give certain celebrities the power to spend those public interest budgets if they, instead, became HP lawyers. They jumped into the deal without any charge.

Actor Matthew McConnaghi was on stage at Dell Technologies World, Dell’s Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President Alison Dew; McConaughey is definitely excited about the ESG-type project. Imagine if he could be a passionate advocate for Dell – how powerful would that be? I think the dew can stop it and I think it would be incredibly difficult to reject Gerber’s passion. So I’m hoping for some amazing ESG progress in next year’s event.

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