Customer Experience in a Flash (Market)
The Flash market is moving fast. This seems like a fitting trend since speed is the goal. Technology analyst firm, IDC, comments that the combined all-flash array and hybrid flash array markets “grew at noticeably higher rates” than they originally forecasted. This is in no small part due to the inherent benefits of Flash technology: speed, reliability, cost per IOPS and Total Cost of Ownership. The recent growth presents incredible opportunity for IT vendors. However, with this opportunity also comes significant responsibility—the importance of the customer experience cannot be overlooked. The flash array vendors of today will set the experience standards. Shouldn’t they be set with the customers best interests in mind?
As the flash market share leader (23%) EMC takes this responsibility seriously. To better understand how EMC focuses on the end-to-end XtremIO customer experience, I met with Anish Ukani, Director of Global Quality with EMC’s Total Customer Experience team. Through his work, Anish personally engages with XtremIO customers to capture feedback and shares these insights with cross-functional EMC teams to improve our products, services and processes.
Three major themes stood out based on my conversation with Anish:
- Technology innovation warrants new customer engagement strategies…
EMC’s Total Customer Experience team proactively engaged XtremIO customers through one-on-one phone interviews (instead of traditional web surveys) to ensure that we received a full understanding of their experience and capture the important perspective early adopters provide to driving future enhancements.
Here is one example of the direct feedback we gathered from customers:
“We did extensive research on…storage technology and concluded that XtemeIO’s Flash based hardware, in-line deduplication and ability to solve our IOPs problem were the key differentiators in our selection process to deliver a seamless user experience. Additionally, we had a tremendous amount of faith and level of comfort knowing XtremIO is a part of the larger EMC Family…We have a history and long standing relationship with EMC Support and Engineering which only enhanced EMC’s value in our evaluation process”.
- Customers deserve to know how their feedback impacts their experience…
Customers shared what they value about XtremIO, including performance (speed and ease of use), price and the fact that it is supported by EMC’s world-class portfolio and leading reputation. We were excited and humbled to hear that every customer we contacted appreciated the product performance and ease of use and that 85% of interviewees would recommend the product to a friend or colleague.
Customers also shared what they would like to see improved with XtremIO, including product features, serviceability and product-related information. To address these major feedback areas, the engineering team has included highly requested product features, such as Snapshots (released in July) and Inline Data Compression (released in September). XtremIO.com provides robust resources to customers in a single location.
- Great technology is not enough to deliver a great experience…
There are so many benefits that Flash technology provides to customers. It truly is an exciting time. However, the incredible opportunity that Flash brings also pushes IT vendors to reach further and work harder. The leaders in this market will be the ones who have the best product AND experience. As VJ Manickam explains, a great customer experience will be key to the survival of any company or technology. We believe the combination of a high performance product— XtremIO is exceeding reliability, quality and availability standards with an impressive five 9s of availability (99.999% uptime)—and focused commitment to the customer experience will allow us to continue our leadership position.
Anish shares his customer feedback findings in this 3-minute video.
EMC is proud to be recognized by Gartner as a leader in the solid-state array market, but we know there is still work to do. Flash is not only transforming the technology industry, but changing how we evaluate and improve the customer experience. We want to hear from you—our current customers and also those of you who selected other Flash vendors—so we can keep the momentum going strong and get to a better Flash experience for everyone.