The right choice and planning of a location are crucial for a successful relocation of an IT company such as Dell. At the same time, the IT industry does not have the problems that heavy industry or agriculture have, as it is dependent neither on raw materials nor on particular climatic conditions. For the IT industry two factors in particular are important: infrastructure and people.
The Halle region has both and this is precisely the reason why it is well-positioned as an IT location. Halle is located in the centre of one of Germany’s core industrial regions and the infrastructure, in which much money has been invested over the last few years, is excellent. The city of Halle is linked to the autobahn on several sides and has an ICE rapid rail link and a modern, fully developed airport slightly less than 30 kilometres away. As a business location, Halle was designed right from the start not only to serve the German market but also other European countries. Employees in European and global project teams also work there.
But Halle is also a city with a strong economic base. As the fourth-largest city in Eastern Germany, Halle is located in the centre of a region in whose catchment area 1.7 million people live within a radius of 50 kilometres and where nine million people live within a radius of 150 kilometres.
But the most important factor is the employees because they are the IT’s actual capital. Their ideas, creativity and commitment are essential for the success of an IT company which makes sophisticated products and sells more and more IT services which require a lot of know-how and expertise. So an IT company also needs well-educated and highly qualified employees. As a scientific and research centre of international renown, Halle can offer precisely that. Halle is linked with the entire world, it is the headquarters of a famous university and the home of important research organizations such as Max Planck, Fraunhofer, Leibniz and Helmholtz institutes.
Another factor in Halle’s success is the fact that its universities and universities of applied sciences make it a famous scientific location. The Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in particular forms a regional crystallization point for the scientific competence, which is essential in a “science society”.
Science and research are always an economic factor as well. For example, both university and non-university facilities are represented at the weinberg campus Technology Park and form a network of modern technology around which 70 research and technology-oriented companies have become established. Proximity to research centres thus becomes a location advantage.
And the presence of a “science landscape” with a university,
research facilities, schools and libraries is also good for the intellectual climate of a city, as these are what makes a location stand out. In the final analysis, this benefits all companies, whether they are involved in research or not. Not even IT companies are in close contact with science and research every day; IT not only means developing new, exciting technology but also requires success in everyday business. This means that the commercial climate at a location is important. Companies locating to Halle don’t have to do pioneer work anymore, but will find a commercial structure here on which they can base their own expectations.
After the radical restructuring in the early 1990s, a wide range of companies have settled in Halle, thereby ensuring a balanced sectoral mix in which modern technologies in particular are well represented. The result is that every tenth employee in Halle works in the IT field or the media.
Everyday business at an IT location: Dell in Halle
Since 2005, Dell, one of world’s largest IT manufacturers, has proved by establishing its second branch in Germany that the location factors in Halle are capable of standing up to the stresses of everyday business life.
Sure, it’s really important to have good transport links, a well-balanced commercial structure and the presence of a knowledge culture, but in the final analysis, the essential factor was the available potential of qualified employees.
In this respect, all expectations were already exceeded in the acquisition phase. Today some 700 people work for Dell in Halle; they found top-level jobs in a globally active company, jobs for which they were fully trained and educated, jobs in which they could further develop both personally and professionally and which – more than anything else – enabled them to remain in the local region and in their family and social environment. This is also important in a globalized and virtualized world.
The demands made by IT companies on their employees are the same in Halle as in any other city in Germany. In the final analysis, Dell was aim to establish a service and sales centre designed to support clients with expert advice for complex products and solutions. This required well-trained employees who understood not only the technical challenges but also the commercial aspects of their work. A lively scientific scene and an active commercial scene in the form offered by Halle form an important basis for this.
The positive development that Dell has recorded at its new location since 2005 has lived up to high expectations. Halle promised much and kept all its promises. Today, Dell’s branch in Halle is home to service and sales centres for servicing public sector clients, clients in the medium-sized sector and smaller companies, and also performs technical support for company clients in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. These tasks are extremely challenging, but this is precisely why Halle was the right choice for Dell.
The author has been the managing director of the Dell branch in Halle since August 2005. She is also marketing director with responsibility for public sector clients in Germany. After an internship in the USA, she started her career at Dell in summer 1998, which she continued as business development manager after completing an MBA at the University of Texas at Austin.