Walls Come Tumbling Down…
by Claus Mikkelsen on Jul 27, 2012
I just returned from an almost-2-week vacation, and it’s actually good to be back at work. I’m rested and ready to launch myself back into the regular routine. I’ll blog on some interesting vacation observations in a few days, but wanted to cover some recent customer activity that occurred before I left on my global trek.
I’ve often said I’ve got the greatest job at HDS (@HuYoshida says he does, but he still has to manage me, so I win that point). The best part is meeting with our customers and talking technology and challenges. The latest round of visits included some of our largest customers who have been with us for many years, and the topic was a software product we’ll be coming out with soon. We’re still open to suggestions and modifications and the customers provided honest and constructive feedback.
Not just with this product, but with the many I’ve worked on over the decades, it’s great to come up with an idea, refine it here in the labs, and then pass it by the customers to get their reaction. Their responses range from:
Perfect!! I love it!! I want it now!!
That’s the dumbest idea ever, but if you add this and that it will be awesome!!
That’s the beauty of these interactions. In the end, it makes for better products.
Many years ago (for different products and different employers of mine) that was not the case (at least not to this extent) and product development was a “push” activity. In other words, “Here’s our new product, how can I convince you to buy it.”
Customer activity these days is much more collaborative and the “walls” have come down (hence the title of this blog).
But I want to talk about another “wall” that greeted me on this trip, and that was in Berlin. I’ve met many “walls” in my life – Walmart, Walgreens, and of course the world-famous Wall Drug Store, in Wall, South Dakota (that’s a whole other story!!), but this was my first visit to Berlin. Spending the weekend there (between customers), I had to visit the site and the museums.
The first thing I noticed was my name graffiti’d on the wall (uhhh, I didn’t do it, really). But in an attempt to capture the “Kodak moment” with my arms and iPhone outstretched, I had an offer from a nearby Danish tour guide to take the picture. Turns out, his name was also Claus, and we had a brief chuckle about Claus taking a photo of Claus by the Claus graffiti.
But back to the real topic at hand – relationships with our customers have become amazingly collaborative, and that’s a classic win-win. The products we develop are better for all, and the goodwill generated is amazing. I can’t ever imagine a better business model for our industry.
And now that I’m back in the daily routine, it’s time to book that next fistful of flights and get back on the road. I can’t wait.