In this edition of Voices of the Industry, Noah Boudreaux, General Manager Data Center Sales and Operations for Venyu, shares insights on how data centers can meet customer demands and deliver excellent customer experiences during challenging times.
The world has changed overnight, and every industry is playing catch-up to meet higher demands from their customers. The data center industry is certainly not immune and given the consistent yet rapid change in technology and business, leaders in the space must be innovative in their approach to customer excellence.
The hallmark of any strong company relies on the ability to deliver unique customer experiences — setting them apart from competitors. In the data center world, uptime and reliability seem to have become table stakes and the bar is raised to provide innovation beyond the fundamentals. Finding this unique “differentiator” is not one to be taken lightly and depends on many factors based on the end goal.
As an executive leader, I find myself having similar expectations for any business who provides services to our company. To that end, it’s easy to empathize with customer demands, since you may find yourself asking for similar service levels sitting on the other side of the table. So, if I put myself “in the customer’s shoes,” what am I asking for?
- First, I’m asking you to deliver on my original expectation. I’m doing business with you because you earned my trust. You sold me on your capability and assurances of resiliency for my critical applications and infrastructure. Don’t make me regret that decision.
- Secondly, I’m asking you to respond and communicate, 24/7. Simply stated: in this day and age, I need to know you and your company are always available; day or night, 365 days a year, 24/7. If I find it difficult to contact or communicate with your organization when I need you, you are not meeting my expectations.
- Lastly, I’m asking you not to wait until I ask for something. Please bring new ideas to me, research the industry and provide innovative services. While I may not need any of these new solutions immediately, the knowledge you impart and understanding of your strategy gives me confidence in our future together.
While these recommendations may resonate with many industries, I find tackling them in the technology and data center space to be exceptionally exciting. As a regional data center in the Southeast, here is how we are creating value for customers based on these expectations.
Connected and Protected
Obviously, doing business in Louisiana comes with an expectation of foul weather. Our customers know our facilities, network and team are dedicated to helping customers maintain business operations in even the fiercest storms. During Hurricane Ida, our critical infrastructure and teams provided what customers expected: solid uptime and relentless efforts to maintain customer systems and applications while keeping data safe. When regularly faced with natural disasters, data center operators must be smart about the technologies they choose to run their facilities and network, to ensure that proper insights, monitoring and maintenance are prescribed in their playbooks.
In today’s world, businesses also recognize you cannot run from the next crisis. Every region is plagued with a unique set of challenges that must be managed in order to instill customer trust. We have found a strong and resilient team always stands behind a similarly strong resilient data center. Knowledge, ability, experience, and pure instinct remain key ingredients of a strong team. The ability to deal with a diverse set of circumstances and remain agile while continually communicating is a key ingredient to dealing with many modern day natural and unnatural disasters.
Connecting Beyond Wires
A clear path to data center solutions is typically met with some degree of challenges. Present day obstacles range from assessing complex requirements, technology glitches, supply chain delays, and weekly crisis responses. At the core of dealing with each of these, is a communication framework and culture that keeps the customer confident that their needs are being addressed. With an exaggerated communication protocol, customers are connected to their data center providers in urgent situations and remain informed (and, if possible, over-informed) on your average day.
While I am a big believer in process and efficiency, there are just some communications that require a personal touch. I find some larger companies rely too heavily on automation to manage customers, leaving a gap in perspective. The ability for customers to discuss a situation and gain insights from a trusted advisor during a critical business juncture is irreplaceable. Good companies listen to, and learn from their customers and then solve their challenges.
Cloud, Hybrid, Edge, AI, 5G, Digital Transformation, Big Data. Our digital world is evolving faster than most can keep up with. Our daily and weekly conversations with businesses are focused on educating them on the multitude of solutions available, but not always “best” for them. Organizations genuinely appreciate this kind of service. “Don’t force me into the Cadillac when we only need a Chevy,” I recall one business owner conveying to us as appreciation for our advice.
It’s Complicated – That’s Why We’re Here
As an agent of customer experiences, we place a lot of emphasis on finding the right fit for customers and navigating them through obstacles they may not be aware of or even consider. The birth of “big box” cloud and “on-demand” anything has forced smaller data centers to re-think their solutions and target customers. We have found that as this paradigm unfolds, customers are faced with a few realities.
- Bigger is not always better.
- The complexities of modern IT have shifted with public cloud but have not disappeared.
- The economics of digital transformations are not always evident early on.
Businesses who want to take advantage of all the things technology has to offer owe it to themselves to first understand fit. Technology decisions are not just about “cloud or no cloud,” they should include organizational drivers such as:
- Where do our users reside?
- How much downtime can I afford?
- How important is my data?
- Where is the industry heading and how do we handle a tech change?
- What is my true total cost of ownership (TCO)?
These critical technology questions are paramount and data center operators should embrace, explain, and shed light on each of them. Engaging discussions on such topics can become a regular rhythm to enlighten and inform customers while also maintaining their business as the focal point during constant shifts in the technology landscape.
Noah Boudreaux, General Manager Data Center Sales and Operations for Venyu. Venyu is a technology solutions provider for colocation, cloud hosting, cloud backup, managed hosting, and disaster recovery/business continuity. Contact them to learn more.