I have recently got back from EMC Customer Council and thought I would write a few words about the experience (and before you get all excited – this is NOT going to cover any of the product / technical / roadmap / detail side of things!) – Just around the experience of attending.
For those not lucky enough to have attended customer council, a few words about the concept. This is a once a year meeting where EMC get together a good cross section of customers and discuss roadmap, but more importantly get lots of feedback from customers on various product sets, market trends, understand customer strategies and then feedback into their own strategies to drive product and customer services – so it really drives direction back into the vendor.
The executives of the EMC business are in attendance and also the core strategists and decision makers on product sets are there. Your feedback goes straight to the top and gets listened to (that is of course not saying that all your suggestions make it into end-products 8-).
Now – I am sure people are sitting back at this point and saying “sounds like a bit of a jolly to me” – well you couldn’t be more wrong. The time spent here is intense. Sessions start first thing in the morning, and run through into the evening. – You literally finish the last session and have a severe case of “Brain Ache”.
It’s also not about the customers sitting back and listening, in fact it’s quite the opposite. This forum is all about the customer talking and EMC listening – and it works!!! The sessions are all very engaging; people are frank and honest with their views on various topics. (In fact I think the customer group talks more than the EMC Employees (which is great!))
It should also be said that this is not a customer / vendor love-fest. People disagree and debate on product sets and approaches (inclusive of customer to vendor, vendor to customer & customer to customer), which is very healthy and valuable – and we all keep each other honest.
The council is (for me anyway) as much about meeting your peers in other companies and understanding how they are tackling issues that you may have and learning from each other.
Whilst the main reason is to supply feedback, the dynamic between customers is excellent – every year when I walk away from this session I have gained a wealth of experience not just from EMC – but also attendees – a bunch of very clever people attend – and you learn lots.
This is far from discussion just storage that is discussed – examples of discussion this year were:
- VDI / Hosted Desktop Services
- Federation of services (and not just storage)
- Network Convergence
- Database Technologies
- Professional services approaches
- Roadmap of product
The list goes on and on and on.. (And these are only the planned sessions – conversation goes on long after end of day – and continues late into the night (very very late...))
There is of course a social side to this as well it would be just plain wrong if a few beers were not consumed – but that it also part of the fun, and it always loosens peoples tongues – which of course causes more debate :-)
Quite simply this is the best, professional, organized customer session that I attend bar none (and I have done many….)
I have met some great people and would like to think that I have also made some great friends, both peers in other companies and within EMC.
Finally – I guess a few thanks - All the guys and gals at EMC that make this happen (from execs, to techies to show facilitators) and also to all the attendees that make this a great learning experience.
One more comment – if you ever get the chance to attend customer council – DO IT! You will have a great time, learn loads and meet some fantastic people.