Does Your Customer Have A Technology Problem Or A Business Problem?Source:
By Roy Bauer, CEO, Digitiliti
You're in a postmortem meeting with your team analyzing why you lost one of your key customers. You‘ve been working diligently with this customer for the past two years, helping them deal with their data growth issues and out-of-control email. Then without warning, your firm was dumped. This customer's problem paralleled the industry — 80% of data stored was either duplicate or proliferated and you implemented several solutions to control that problem.
You integrated a deduplication appliance that yielded data storage savings and reduced backup time. That was good. To address email growth, you set email storage space policies and reduced server size with an email archive appliance. These actions mitigated the problem for a while. You then implemented a VTL to ease the pressure on backup. Integrating these solutions had its challenges, but your team demonstrated the technical competence required. The customer's network was better able to handle data growth and you gained more customer face time. You generated consulting services by helping IT manage the infrastructure, update software and "tweak" performance of the network. You were even included in the customer's IT strategy planning session where you proposed additional point solutions for other data management challenges.
Then the inevitable happened, an executive lost some important files. It took a week to find and retrieve the data. You came to their rescue with an indexing appliance to better find data. Then you recommended the "cloud" for archiving and data protection. That was the final recommendation from your company. So what happened?
The customer's feedback: Too costly, too complex and too much support required. Shocking! But more fundamental, none of the point solutions solved the root-cause of the customer's problem. Your solutions reduced data storage, but by adding multiple point solutions, complexity, and infrastructure support, the ROI benefits disappeared. The customer had less control of data, more data proliferation across the network, and increased difficulty complying with regulatory requirements for data governance.
So where did the VAR go wrong? It addressed the customer's storage problem but never solved the bigger issue — the business problem. Adding costly technology infrastructure provided little improvement to the customer's business. They secured in the customer executives' minds that IT was a necessary expense versus a strategic advantage.
The VAR didn't work with the executives at the company to understand the overall business problem. Point solutions solved a problem at a point in time and a point in the network but created additional complexity and cost without visible business value. Effectively, they were putting band-aids on the bullet hole.
So let's reexamine the customer problem of data growth, data proliferation, and out-of-control email. It's one of the seminal problems in information technology today, and it's compounding every year. Irrespective of technology, customers want to be able to:
- Find information. Seventy-two percent of organizations say it's harder to find information they own than information they don't own.
- Have control and governance over information for audit compliance.
- Leverage the content of the information stored in the company.
- Put disparate pieces of content together in a context that can be used to advantage.
- Reduce data and the costs associated with the volumes of data being created in the company. Industry studies consistently show data growth at 3% per month.
- Protect intellectual assets from disaster but be able to easily access archived data.
- Do all this simply, efficiently, and inexpensively.
Achieving these objectives requires a highly integrated approach addressing the root cause of data and email growth and proliferation. It requires architecture based on the individual creating content and capturing metadata at the point of data creation, not after it is already stored. It requires assimilation of a policy/governance engine, and transparent integration of all those "point" solutions like deduplication, indexing, compression, etc. It also demands customers have real-time archiving access to the wealth of information created by the organization over whatever period is defined by policy. Most importantly, the architecture must provide structure to unstructured data to transform the data into valuable content that can be put in context for the company's strategic advantage.
What that means is that VARs must deploy solutions that resolve the immediate technology challenge, but long term, must address the business issues lurking beneath the technology — issues such as compliance, organized yet streamlined data, restore capabilities, and easier IT management. When VARs deploy this kind of business solution, they bring together the IT shop, the compliance and legal officers, and the company executives with an all inclusive solution that will win them additional service business and solve problems instead of creating them.