SHI’s customers shape the product

I started writing this post with the idea to talk about the ways SHI provides our customers with industry-leading financial control over their spend in the SHI Cloud. It’s an extremely important issue for our customers, because the biggest problem many of them face with the cloud is a lack of visibility into how much their organization is spending on cloud services.

But then, I realized that there’s a bigger story here to tell. The reason SHI offers full financial control over the SHI Cloud is because our customers asked for it. Financial control is only one example of the many breakthroughs in our cloud that came to be because we listened to our customers.

So today, I thought I would outline how our customers are helping to shape our product. After that, we can begin to look at many of the features that have been added in direct response to customer feedback.

Listening to our customers, from start to finish

Long before SHI became a cloud provider, we have supported our customers in achieving their goals for IT. It is the 20+ years of consulting our customers and listening to their needs that compelled us to design a cloud service purpose-built around the requirements of IT.

Now that our cloud business has been launched, SHI uses the sales, on-boarding, and customer support interactions with our cloud customers to learn more about their requirements and use cases for the cloud. Our careful and very consultative approach to selling the SHI Cloud is one of the reasons our customers have such an impact on our product direction.

I’m involved in these customer touch points through the life cycle. We do demos, conduct trainings, run focus groups, and survey customers. We spend a lot of time talking with customers about their use cases and what they are trying to do in the cloud. As a result, we’re able to focus on customer requirements and make sure our services meets those requirements.

While our customers are seeing great results from the SHI Cloud, it is true that it is not right for every application. In order to guide customers to an optimal experience, part of these discussions must include helping customers put the right things in the cloud, focusing on things we know will be successful, and discouraging them from spending time using the cloud for things we know won’t be successful.

For instance, the on-boarding process requires engineers on our side and the customer’s side to come together to discuss how the customer will extend its network into our cloud and what type of workloads the network must support. The business end also shares its goals for finances and billing. All elements of the customer’s business that touch the cloud are involved in these discussions.

Of course, the primary purpose of this is to ensure the customer’s success with the cloud. But this type of interaction also provides a secondary benefit to helping us better develop the product: The ability to use the customer feedback gathered in every on-boarding, sales, and support interaction to prioritize the SHI Cloud road map.

This is similar to the concept of agile development, where instead of trying to build a product that anticipates every possible need, we start with a few basic features and make fast-cycle, iterative changes that address the real-world, right-now needs of our customers. The result is a better product that is closely aligned to what our customers want, built at a far faster pace. But none of that would be possible if we weren’t taking the time to listen to our customers in the first place.

SHI has put a process in place that ensures every single customer has an opportunity to talk with us about what they want to do, get input from us as to what we can and cannot support, and give us feedback on how to improve or extend the service. To sum it up, customer contributions are essential to the success of the SHI Cloud.

Be sure to keep your eye on this space, because there’s more where this came from. My next post will talk about the financial controls we have built into the SHI Cloud, all because our customers asked for it.

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