This week, I was in Boston at EMC’s Annual Analyst event. It included a number of interesting disclosures that I can’t talk about, but the ones I can talk about were equally fascinating. For instance, EMC has an offering called “Project Nile,” which actually creates a private-public cloud, providing the security and compliance that is needed and the ease of use that has been driving line organizations to Amazon Web Services, often over the CIO’s objections. But the two most interesting presentations were on EMC’s partner efforts and then, at the end, when the analysts begged Joe Tucci, EMC’s very well-regarded CEO, to run for public office.
I covered Project Nile on Datamation, so now let’s focus on the other two topics of interest.
EMC’s Amazing Partner Efforts
EMC has shifted to a partner model from one that was predominantly direct sales. This has had broad implications on product strategy (the company has the greatest focus on interoperability and compatibility in its class) and it potentially provides massive scale. This is incredibly difficult to do because mixing direct and partner sales efforts generally comes with conflicts that cripple and disenfranchise the partners.
EMC has virtually eliminated those conflicts, or put more accurately, eliminated most of the direct sales incentives and tools. Now if you want to sell an EMC product, you pretty much have to go through a partner in the regions where partners are predominant. The partners help create the programs that serve them and EMC is pushing the follow-on services revenue to the partners as well, ensuring that they are successful in their efforts.
While this certainly has short-term adverse implications for EMC revenue, it expands EMC’s reach massively. In this case, you make it up with volume. Ironically, this reminded me a bit of Steve Ballmer’s partner programs back in the 1990s, when Microsoft peaked. Its near-rabid focus on partner success (in this case, PC OEM) assured its own success. EMC appears to have taken a page from Microsoft’s old book and massively improved the effort.
EMC has, for the last several years, been the leading user of analytics to measure customer satisfaction and loyalty. I saw a similar focus and effort with these partners. With analytics, it was able to determine specifically what was needed to drive the creation of a massive partner base of companies mostly jaded by historic poor relationships with companies in EMC’s class. So EMC used analysis to create a program that the partners would love. The stats it shared showcased massive growth in this channel and implied loyalty to EMC that is unmatched in the market. This is the power of analytics, and it is great to see a firm that sells analytics solutions use the technology so successfully itself.
Joe Tucci for President
The tradition is for Joe Tucci, who heads the umbrella company that owns the various EMC properties, to speak to the analysts. This was an unusual talk. He once again explained the two EMCs: the one that sells storage solutions and the umbrella company EMC2, which has Pivotal, VMware, etc. under it. But he then spoke about the key skill you have to develop to get an entity like this to work: getting people to cooperate and move forward. He contrasted this with government, where it is clear that the big problem is that both sides simply refuse to work together. He pointed out that, while many think he is a Republican, he isn’t, nor is he a Democrat. He is socially liberal but fiscally conservative. (I saw a survey a few months back that indicate that the majority of us are that way these days).
It seemed like most of the analysts in the room wanted Joe to run for office. Several seemed to indicate that the U.S., or at least the state of Massachusetts, desperately needs someone with his thinking. I’ve actually never seen this happen at an analyst event before. The only other CEO that seemed interested in politics while she was running a firm was Carly Fiorina, and most of us weren’t convinced she could run HP, let alone run the country. She was later fired and failed in her political aspirations, as well.
Joe indicated that he has no plans to run, but does have a passion to fix the problem and feels that the government currently is making it excessively hard to be successful in business in the U.S. He’s specifically working on improving education because he feels, and I agree, that this is one of the most important foundations for a successful country.
Wrapping Up: A Technologist’s Tech Company
EMC is a fascinating company. It cares more for its customers and partners than most others and demonstrates this with massive efforts in big data analytics to understand and serve them all. Their CEO is the only CEO I’ve ever seen pushed toward office by technology analysts: This just doesn’t happen. EMC is also structured very uniquely, and it has anticipated and created a powerfully unique hybrid cloud appliance in Project Nile, which appears to provide the unique balance that CIOs need to survive. And this is only some of what makes EMC2 into a very unique and powerful firm.