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Beyond the Box: Inventing at the Edge of Customer Need


Henry Ford may or may not have said that customers would have asked for faster horses instead of motor cars, but Assaf Natanzon certainly shares the philosophy behind that famous quote.

“To be a prolific inventor you need to think outside of the box. Not think of what exists. Not think of what customers say that they want. But think of what the customers really want, but do not know that they want,” Natanzon says.

man standing inside data center

And he should know. Currently Dell EMC’s vice president of Advanced Technology & Investment Evaluation of EMEA in the Office of the CTO and Distinguished Engineer, Natanzon recently made the list of the world’s most prolific inventors – 142 individuals with more than 200 families of patents. Natanzon is the first Israeli to make the list.

His wife Mirit Natanzon says they count each patent that he registers, but he’s such a prolific inventor that they only go out to celebrate every 50 patents. That doesn’t mean he spends all his time between locked away in a lonely lab, though.

“You cannot do anything alone,” Natanzon says in the video below. “I believe that about 80-90 percent of my patents come from teamwork, from brainstorming, from sitting together and raising new ideas and seeing where they take.”

Collaborating with people from other disciplines is where he sees innovation happening. And it’s something his teammates say Natanzon is especially good at doing.

“I haven’t met another person like him, who is so advanced in science and technology, yet such a pleasure, always such a pleasure, to consult with, to work with, to try things with, to evaluate things with,” says Dr. Orna Berry vice president, Dell EMC and general manager Israel Center of Excellence, Dell EMC. “This combination is unique. He is one of a kind.”

group of four Dell EMC employees sitting together discussing a project

Natanzon’s 202 currently issued patents are primarily in the areas of data protection and disaster recovery, and he is most proud of his work on any-point-in-time recovery with Dell EMC RecoverPoint. But, these days he also works with the Dell Technologies Capital team meeting with startups and evaluating new technologies.

Natanzon is also still a student, studying for his Ph.D. in the Department of Computer Science at the Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

“Assaf is brilliant and perfectly combines strong theoretical and analytical skills with practical implementation-oriented know-how,” Professor Eitan Bachmat, who is working with Natanzon on his Ph.D. recently told Hamodia.

We’re proud to have Natanzon on our team. His love of technology from the gadget up to the enterprise system keeps innovation for our customers alive; but as he notes, it doesn’t happen alone. Prolific inventors tend to be associated with other prolific inventors, and/or with prolifically inventive organizations, notes Mark Summerfield on the patentology blog.

The Dell EMC Israel Center of Excellence where Natanzon is based is one of Dell Technologies 17 global research and development centers. Dell Technologies was ranked #17 on the Intellectual Property Owners Association Top 300 Patent Owners list for 2016 and has over 22,775 patents and patent applications.

Yes, with great employees like Natanzon we make digital transformation a reality.

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