VCE’s recent announcements captured significant attention, with over 4000 attendees to our virtual launch and extensive industry media coverage. Behind the cameras, in the studio audience, sat members of VCE’s Customer Advisory Board (CAB). Customers are an integral part of nearly everything we do at VCE, and the CAB that took place during the week of our launch represents the best of how customers and the companies that serve them can work together.
For this three-day CAB meeting, we invited 22 of our customers from around the globe to discuss the present and future of converged infrastructure and next-generation data centers. In return for their time commitment, customer executives get continuous access to VCE executives throughout the event.
The executive team and I spoke a little and listened a lot. I am a firm believer that these events are vital in helping VCE build closer relationships with key customers and they are unrivaled in letting us know what really matters to them.
Customers provided us with direct, candid feedback about their needs, pain points and priorities. They shared their views on the market and on our strategy. And they let us know what we are doing well…and where we could improve.
So what did our customers say they liked?
We are changing the way IT is perceived within their companies. CIO’s have concrete business objectives, operational challenges and financial challenges. In VCE, they have a partner to help them deploy applications fasters; provide higher availability, performance and service levels; be more responsive to changing business requirements; and operate more efficiently. They see a direct correlation between VCE innovation and their ability to focus on business innovation vs. simply maintaining operations. They expressed their excitement about VCE Vision Intelligent Operations and its ability to simplify the management of data center environments, moving beyond converged infrastructure to converged data center operations. In fact, they are already providing input on what features they want to see next.
Our customers praised us for significantly improving their support experience with VCE. Our support process was in its infancy at our first CAB in 2011, and our customers provided insight and feedback that have made VCE’s support a key pillar of our superior customer experience.
Lastly, customers told us how much they appreciate the fact that we continue to provide a standard framework for building Vblock systems, and we’ve expanded into entry level systems – the Vblock System 100 and Vblock System 200 – as well as Vblock Specialized Systems to fully integrate software stacks such as SAP HANA® software.
Always Room for Improvement
And what did customers want to see us do better?
The recurring theme this year was communication—customers want more frequent and more transparent communications around how support works with various software environments in their data centers; about how future technologies from Cisco, EMC and VMware make their way into the Vblock systems; and about how we can evolve tools to simulate productivity gains and cost savings through the migration of additional data center workloads to Vblock Systems.
We can do better at communicating with our customers and we are already working hard to provide them with the additional clarity they have asked for.
The opinions voiced at the CAB reflected what I have heard over and over again from our customers this year—they are very happy with VCE. And I think our emphasis on the “voice of the customer” is one of the reasons why. We may not get things right every time, but we listen to our customers—truly listen—and are fully committed to continually improving the customer experience.