I was remembering a moment of customer insight during a meeting earlier this year. It was one of those perfect spring days in Britain when everything aligns and you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a pub garden.
I was out on a lunch meeting with a customer, discussing current projects with their Head of Infrastructure and we got round to talking about storage. He was an AWS S3 user and was clearly compelled to use the service for all reasons that you might expect. However, it seemed like something was missing from the picture.
“So of course I like Amazon’s services”, he said with a smile, “But, I can’t go for lunch with Amazon”.
I know for a fact this isn’t true – of course AWS folks do directly engage with some customers – but I understood the sentiment behind the comment. To a certain extent this is probably normal for any business delivering homogeneous, auto-magic services at global scale.
What’s interesting is that Amazon are incredibly customer focused, but this focus is on building services that are so convenient that you cannot help but use them. This is a different thing to building long-term customer relationships based on trust and shared values.
Where other companies might respond with overwrought displays of contrition and dramatic conciliatory gestures, Amazon will likely do the minimum necessary, wait out the storm, and move on.
So where does this leave Service Providers?
Well it would seem, given that cloud is confusing the hell out of enterprises, one of the most obvious things carriers and SPs can do is fill this human gap by becoming more consultative. There really needs to be less selling and more teaching going on. Customers respond well to a bit of honesty and clarity when it comes to making informed buying decisions.
Service Providers are comfortable dealing with the IT dept, but we also know the customer is changing. Providers can use existing customer relationships with IT as a beachhead from which to launch new conversations with a new type of IT buyer, who have been said to hold the purse strings for two thirds of the time.
The gulf between IT and Development is definitely a challenge, but from what I’ve seen many enterprise developers are still isolated from the public cloud revolution, especially in Europe, leaving plenty of mind share up for grabs if SPs can get their act together.