One of EMC’s greatest strengths over the last decade has been an increasing and near biblical focus on customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Jim Bampos leads the metrics side of this effort and Tony Kolish the services side. EMC recently bought the company Green Plum to help measure every part of the customer relationship and optimize for it. EMC not only will be using this technology heavily themselves but selling it to other companies that also want to reduce customer churn and increase loyalty.
One of the really interesting parts of this effort is a focus on getting information from line managers in customer companies. They are the only firm I’m following that actually seems to get that IT isn’t the customer, IT is a services organization internal to the customer and the line managers are the customer.
EMC is measuring the satisfaction and future direction of these line managers in order to define products that IT doesn’t even know they are going to want yet.
Pat Gelsinger, recent transplant from Intel to EMC, has been a huge advocate of this approach to customer loyalty. He quickly saw this very custome- focused approach as EMC’s greatest asset. This from a dyed in the wool product guy.
EMC will build on the contrast of not only caring what IT thinks but what IT’s customers think in order to create better product and services offerings. This should position the company nicely to take advantage of any potential growing perception that Oracle doesn’t care.
EMC isn’t bad mouthing Oracle, they are just creating a strong contrast of a company that loves its customers, and cares about what they think. It kind of reminds me of the song “According to You,” and EMC is on the right side of it.
There is a lot of irony in these two approaches, particularly for IBM, which in the 80s went down a similar path of thinking that customer lock in no longer meant you had to focus on prices and customer satisfaction. IBM exists as a power today because they learned this lesson the hard way and are unlikely to make it again this generation.
Even bigger is the fact that Sun’s most successful attack against IBM was on the vector of price and leveraged the perception that IBM was gouging customers. This is the nearly identical strategy IBM is using against Oracle’s Sun unit today.
EMC simply remains the number one example of a firm that has figured out that customer loyalty, beyond all else, is a treasure worth protecting. There is no vendor in the technology space, not even Apple, that is resourcing turning customers into advocates more aggressively.
In the end, at the core of both strategies are the very Apple-like concepts of creating iconic products (System Z) and an unmatched base of customers who are also fans. The final irony is that if any CEO should get how Steve Jobs plays the game, it should be Steve’s closest CEO friend Larry Ellison. But instead it is Sam Palmisano and Joe Tucci. Go figure?
Oh, and one more song. I think Oracle’s strategy is best exemplified by Pink’s “Don’t Let Me Get Me.” Listen to it, if you are an Oracle customer, and let me know if you think this doesn’t present your perception of Oracle perfectly. I’m pretty sure it represents IBM and EMC’s thoughts exactly.
Hey, and worse comes to worse, you had a good business reason to listen to three great songs during work!