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NEW ORLEANS -- Changing a corporate culture doesn't happen overnight but EMC Corp. is working hard to become a more customer-friendly company -- an area it has neglected in the past, probably because of its dominant position in the market.
From the CEO on down, EMC is implementing a Six Sigma practice in its organization to improve customer satisfaction. Developed in the 1980s by Motorola Inc. to reduce manufacturing defects, Six Sigma methodology demands that a company begin by identifying defects in its processes that influence customer satisfaction the most. For each factor, the company then determines an acceptable range and works to eliminate these defects.
"It is the No. 1 program I am driving from my office throughout this year," said Joe Tucci, president and CEO of EMC, at the company's Technology Summit in New Orleans this week. "We've not been a good company or an easy company to partner with … this is an important step forward in the rejuvenation of EMC." Tucci is working on his green belt certification, which is the first step on the Six Sigma ladder.
Five years ago, EMC was known for its brash, pushy sales tactics and arrogance toward the rest of the market and its customers. Now, through what it calls its Total Customer Experience initiative, it is aiming to put this experience behind it and "delight" its customers, Tucci said.
David Gouldon, executive vice president of customer operations at EMC, said this will begin with how well a proposal looks, to the implementation experience, to delivering on time and on budget. "There are many touch points where we meet you, and all these need to be good experiences," he said.
How well this is translating back to users is hard to tell at this point as it appears to be a fairly new initiative or at least not one the company has made a big deal about publicly.
Bloomberg L.P., a major EMC user with 2
on Symmetrix and DMX platforms, has 10 EMC staff on site in New York and 30 people from EMC working for it around the globe. Pleasing this company shouldn't be too difficult, and unsurprisingly, Bloomberg said it is happy with its support from EMC. "It's excellent -- second to none," said Thong Ly, head of storage engineering at Bloomberg.
But translating this kind of support downmarket to midsize and smaller companies appears to be harder for EMC. "They tend to tell us what to buy rather than listen to what we need," said a storage administrator for a regional U.S. bank, who requested anonymity.
EMC's renewed focus on customer satisfaction will be even more challenging as it attempts to integrate all the companies it has acquired in the past three years, according to Dave Ellard, consultant at GlassHouse Technologies Inc. and formerly the chief information officer at EMC. "When will the company look like one to its customers? How many EMC sales people are calling you right now? When can you have all EMC assets under one maintenance fee? These are some of the customer challenges EMC faces," Ellard said in a recent interview with SearchStorage.com.
Making friends with other vendors
EMC also faces an uphill battle building relationships with other vendors. Howard Elias, executive vice president of corporate marketing at EMC, acknowledged that in the past the firm has not been a good company to partner with. He said EMC's new ecosystem partner program is its strongest commitment to date to build good relationships with its channel and partners. "A few years ago, EMC would have struggled to even have this conversation … but well over half the business we do today is touched by a partner one way or another," he said.
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