In December 2016, we began a research effort by categorizing the conversations we have with customers and prospects.
We wanted to answer a few questions:
Coming into 2017, what are people most interested in and focused on?
Are there common themes or project scopes that are top of mind and to-do lists? If so, are there external catalysts driving these decisions and actions?
How much variance exists between the questions we're being asked and the projects being undertaken?
Are the questions being asked and the topics/solutions being researched the actual objective, or are they on the edges, reflecting a different way of thinking about a risk or opportunity?
What, exactly, are their definitions of the terms, products and services they're interested in?
In other words, are we speaking the same language?
We then compared this information against our web traffic, including page visits and keyword triggers.
With 60 days of data in hand, we identified four interesting trends:
How do I migrate existing applications and data from where they are (wherever that may be) to the cloud? The cloud, in this case, is bookended by two definitions. On one end, the applications and data are no longer on-prem. On the other, the application has been completely optimized/modernized/transformed for a SaaS model and to take advantage of seamless integration with third-party APIs.
Availability, in this case, is defined in three ways:
- The application or data is always available. This is what we would traditionally term as High Availability or HA application architectures;
- The application performance is improved to meet current end-user speed or usability expectations. This is very closely linked to application transformation or modernization (effectively taking advantage of advanced data, application and network architectures to improve performance); and
- APIs. The application and data is available in new ways as the business, end users and third-party partners may require.
More closely linked to Cloud Migration and Availability than we had expected, the DevOps questions all center around increasing the availability of, and access to, infrastructure management capabilities. This is either through automation (think Continuous Integration) or through outsourced management of these components. What surprised us the most here is that these conversations really dove into a need for someone to bring DevOps processes and mentality into their organizations. Equally surprising was that this requirement extended beyond infrastructure and reached all the way up into the application development process. There is a clear desire for modern processes, and it's great to see.
When we dug into these questions we quickly learned that security really was part of a much larger effort to meet rapidly evolving compliance requirements. Whenever someone mentioned fully managed security, and we asked them to define what that means to them, it quickly became a compliance conversation. The underlying need is to mitigate the risks associated with increasing requirements for data access (via APIs) and extremely fluid security and compliance regulations. The TL;DR version is best practices to manage an ever-changing landscape.
So, how much variance exists between the questions we're asked and the projects we undertake?
Not much, really. When we dug deeply into these conversations, we were able to learn that while there was usually one key driver for the research or inquiry, it was ultimately part of one of the four trends mentioned above. People were just coming to one of these opportunities from slightly different angles based upon their unique requirements. In essence, it is important to do more listening than talking to be sure the edges of the scope are clearly known by everyone involved.
Finally, are we speaking the same language?
In many instances, we are. However, the definition of a term or expectation of a service are inherently unique. In many cases, the expectation extends beyond what would be termed an industry standard (in a positive way). This corresponds directly with the aforementioned statement about being an attentive listener and, in all instances, asking very direct questions. This minimizes, if not eliminates, ambiguity in the conversation and helps get everyone right where they're going as efficiently as effectively as possible.
If you have any interest in discussing these trends or the research we're currently undertaking in more detail, please put some time on my calendar. I'm happy to make time for the discussion and share what we're learning.