Monday, June 25, 2007

NetApp - whatever happened to simple maintenance, management and cost control?

Many of our NetApp service and support customers come to us because they have heard from coworkers and peers that Zerowait can help them control their maintenance costs, and then they learn about our remote management and other services that can help them control their out of control maintenance and upgrade costs for their NetApp equipment.

Recently, I heard from a customer in NYC that their NetApp SE was strongly suggesting they upgrade to a newer system. As I asked some questions I found out that their current hardware was not maxed out in anyway and could easily handle more, users, disks, and shelves. The customer learned that the SE was truly a Sales Engineer. Sales is the first word in that title, and they are not looking out for the customer's long term interest, but instead NetApp SE's are trying to sell you more equipment to boost their personal bonuses.

Can a vendor's Sales Engineer ever put the customer first? It is an interesting question that needs to be asked. I think the answer is that an independent maintenance organization is the only way for a NetApp customer to get the most value in performance and long term usage out of his equipment. NetApp sells boxes and software, not efficiency.

Instead of asking customers what is in the customers interest and building products for them, NetApp has embarked on building Avatars of their perfect customers, so that they can build perfect products for them.

One way of developing better products is by tuning into clients’ data management woes, understanding requirements, and shaping products to reflect needs. However, the knowledge that after-sales and marketing folks get from the field does not always permeate to the engineers/developers.

And that is why the company created Mike Raja and Joe and four other personas. Joe could be a DBA (database administrator)/Chief Information Officer/any other user of NetApp’s data management products.

“This is a new approach that we are trying. Innovation is important and these personas for users of our products help continually innovate,” Louis H. Selincourt, Vice-President, SMAI & Offshore Operations, told eWorld over lunch at the company’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, recently.

The idea came from the book, “The Lunatics Are Running The Asylum” penned by Alan Cooper, whose company makes software more user-friendly.

“Personas create a consistent ID of our users, so we can discuss them across the company while brainstorming,” says Selincourt.


So now NetApp has created cartoon characters to act as their perfect customers... You just can't make this stuff up!

At Zerowait we listen to real customers, and their real problems, and provide real solutions. We invest our research and development funds in creating better ways to help our customers, while NetApp is investing in cartoon characters to help their customers.

No comments: