This week I wrapped up VCE engineering leadership meetings and managed to fit in a few customer visits at one of our executive briefing centers. Throughout the week I provided updates to visiting customers with some focus on several announcements we are making on February 21st, finishing Friday with customer visits to one of our manufacturing facilities. One customer in particular, I visited a few weeks prior, the reason for their visit was to “see” the answers to several questions about VCE’s ability to execute which were sourced by several private conversations with competitors. This competitor sourced VCE education is popular these days, they don’t exclusively talk about us, they do manage to position their converged infrastructure value conversation, which is typically “flexibility, support, engineering integration, application optimization and management openness”.
Naturally, when we visited this customer and began speaking to similar points of value plus so much more, the customer paused the conversation and called shenanigans as they were directly told that VCE couldn’t do x, y and z. These initial customer and value in conflict meetings always remind me of the State Farm® – State of Disbelief (French Model) commercial, famously released last year. State Farm® does a masterful job of using humor to capture the importance of evaluating any product or service. In this case humor encourages everyone to make sure you take a good look at a product or service and don’t exclusively believe what you hear.
I always try to pay homage to the commercial with a “bonjour” at some point in the meeting as I have come to expect this wonderful setup by our friends in the industry. Once the laughs stop, we continue beyond the pillars of value and describe how these pillars enable a transformational experience for a customer’s information technology operations. This transformation enables organizations to worry less about the nuts and bolts and more about the applications they are running their business on. One long time VCE customer has shared with me several times that they are managing the applications in their environment and aren’t spending anytime worrying about the “kit”.
I will be the first to tell you that VCE doesn’t have the market cornered on the only answer for every customer. My VCE colleagues and I understand, that there are many solutions in the industry and our approach may not be the approach a customer will ultimately pursue. Super Bowl XLVII is this weekend and a very relevant but overused quote is “That’s why they play the game”. VCE is very happy to engage in the discussion with customers and let them decide if we are the best answer for their situation. As my good friend Michael Capellas always says “GameOn”.
Now the magic of these customer moments is to see them become very passionate about getting to the reality of who is and who isn’t being honest with them. Customers making these transformational technology decisions want a relationship with a company which begins a long business partnership and that partnership must always be based on honesty and integrity.
Our answer is always to pause the talk track and start the show track. If you have questions about how we deliver support, we will invite you to sit in one of our call centers and watch VCE employees take customer calls and diagnose customer problems.
If you question the degree of testing and certification VCE has invested, we schedule our Vblock™ Systems platform engineering team to brief you on their process of rigorous system certification. This process continues through the life of your Vblock™, not just when you buy it. They also describe the process they pursue to perform detailed engineering & qualification builds. If you wonder if VCE is simply an assembler of kit, we show you the software development efforts that have built to make the engineering, build and delivery process a predictable experience for every customer as well a few other exciting developments to be released soon!
If you question the commitment VCE has to quality, we invite you to see one of our manufacturing facilities that stage and assemble Vblock™ Systems in ESD-free environments. Vblock™ Systems are assembled in high capacity facilities with high quality build cells, designed to track the progress of each system’s build through staging, physical build, logical build, burn-in testing, multiple power up and power down stages, and finally shipment preparation.
We show you the quality controls and process that every Vblock™ System build undergoes to ensure that systems are built to proper customer specifications and that each system is ready to operate when it arrives to the customer. When customer’s experience this in person and weigh that experience against what they were told and what they haven’t been shown by others, a new relationship is formed, grounded in a trust that VCE was built to execute, and that the relationship between VCE and it’s investors is here to stay.
Those customers I visited with on Friday seem very excited about what our future holds together but time and our continued commitment to addressing their needs will determine that outcome. I am proud to tell our customers that we were built to execute, not built to issue press releases about magical pixie dust.
Until the next post,