Customer Insight Tops All!
Our CMO, Eric Herzog, recently wrote a blog about Infinidat, yet again, being named a Leader in the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Primary Storage. In his blog Eric also mentions two other key affiliated programs: Gartner Peer Insights, and Gartner Customers’ Choice Awards.
Gartner Peer Insights is a fantastic program where Gartner-verified real end users can share their direct experiences and opinions about specific IT vendors and products for others to learn from. In Gartner’s words: “Choose IT Solutions with Confidence. Reviews from your enterprise peers — verified by Gartner”. Check it out!
Gartner Customers’ Choice Awards recognizes those vendors and products that stand out above the rest, as evaluated by customers. Basically, they're the best of the best, as rated by the end users. This recognition is separate from, and in addition to, Gartner’s own evaluation of vendors and products, which is detailed in the verbiage that accompanies the Gartner Magic Quadrant. “Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice distinctions recognize vendors and products that are highly rated by their customers. The data we’ve collected represents a top-level synthesis of vendor software products most valued by IT Enterprise professionals.”
Infinidat is honored to be one of only three Primary Storage Array vendors to have been named a Gartner Customers’ Choice Award winner for 2021, our third consecutive year.
Additionally, Infinidat has the highest overall rating for Primary Storage Arrays, with a score of 4.9 out of a possible 5 and 97% of end user reviewers saying that they would recommend Infinidat to other end users.
While we are obviously honored to have been named a Leader by Gartner in their Magic Quadrant, in my opinion it is these two other recognitions from Gartner that are even more significant - the voice of the customer. Here’s why.
Although I’ve spent 40 years of my professional career working for four different large IT vendors, I started my professional career on the other side of the fence as a customer of IT technology. As a customer, probably like yourself, I’d “heard it all” from vendor sales and marketing people. They all seemed to think that their proposed solutions were always the best, but, of course, that can't possibly be true for all of them.
Years later, while working for IT vendors, I would often be amazed at how many internal people thought that customers simply believed marketing claims by default, and at face value. As you have probably witnessed, far too often vendors take the public position that their company (and only their company) can do no wrong, while their competitors can do nothing right. That attitude is usually directly correlated with how big the IT vendor is - the bigger the company, the bigger the pompousness, arrogance, and self-delusion.
Since the late 1970’s, I’ve been sharing what I call “Steinhardt’s Theory Of Customer Beliefs”, in an attempt to persuade others of what I believe is a more realistic position.
The theory is that customers have a very specific hierarchy of where they place credibility in an attempt to get to the truth when evaluating technology. This hierarchy is particularly valuable whenever there are competing solutions from different vendors. The higher you are in the hierarchy, the more credibility and impact.
In priority order, customers believe:
- Their own personal experience. Nothing tops the perceived truth of someone’s own personal knowledge, beliefs, experiences, and first-hand observations.
- The experiences of other customers. If you do not have first-hand personal experience with a particular product or solution, the next most-credible source of influence will be other customers. Typically, the most credible and relevant other customers are those that are in your own industry, are of a similar size, or that have similar applications or business challenges.
- Independent Third-Parties (analysts, journalists, academics). Beyond the experience of actual customers (yourself or others), the next most-credible source are professionals tasked with learning, evaluating, and comparing solutions. Some may be far more credible than others, and some may not be credible at all but all will give you a more complete and less-biased perspective.
- Vendors. Dead-last, and with the absolute least credibility relative to what they say about their own products or those from their competitors, are the vendors themselves. Too often many vendors are guilty of “inhaling their own fumes” and fail to accept their rightful position in this hierarchy. Some vendors may be totally honest and accurate, some may be inaccurate or even unethical, and some may be somewhere in between. That is why exploring numbers 1 through 3 above is so valuable.
If you believe that there is merit to this theory, the key messages are:
- Trust your own knowledge, experience, and instincts above all else.
- Communicate broadly, and often, with other customers for your mutual benefit. Establish and participate actively in user groups, formal and informal, large and small. Share and solicit user experiences. Tell your story and listen to those from others. Be brutally honest when sharing your story – whether it be about the Good, the Bad, or the Ugly. Contribute your feedback to programs like Gartner Peer Insights so others can learn from your experiences.
- If a vendor has served you well, be a reference for them, and ask for references from any vendor that you are considering. If a vendor has failed you, be willing to selectively share that too, as appropriate.
- Do not assume that your brilliantly-crafted messaging and positioning is actually being believed. Accept that you’ll almost always need to “prove it”, and that means either investing in your customers to establish their own direct experience, sharing experiences from other customers, or generating public success to influence the third-parties.
- Lastly, the obvious and most important way to be successful is to make your customers successful, and encourage them to tell their stories!
And THANK YOU Gartner for creating an unbiased home for global customers to share their experiences and stories for the benefit of all.