Follow the Leader

Image credit: Jay Cuthrell

Follow the Leader ( 2013 )

#include <disclaimer.h>

Take a phrase that’s rarely heard

One of my favorite YouTube videos became a new source of inspiration for me. The lyrics and visuals are decidedly old school. As such, it can be fun to mix things up and think of how they can apply to recent events.

Flip it

Converged infrastructure, fabric based infrastructure, integrated infrastructure systems, and probably a few other phrases can be used to describe what I’ve been calling ubiquitous workload substrate for a few years now. So when I first found out that VCE was named by Gartner as the market share leader for integrated infrastructure systems, I knew it was only a matter of time before things got even faster and crazier than they were before.

Things have always moved fast at VCE. The overall IT industry in both enterprise and service provider settings is being pulled from the past to the present. VCE is focused on pulling this industry into the future. VCE isn’t sitting still. VCE is all about riding the rocket while constructing and reworking that same rocket in real time.

It’s probably no shock that VCE competitors would almost immediately launch into some kind of marketing conniption when VCE was named as a leader by a third party in this way. Yet, I’m still amazed that so many other companies claim to do the same thing as VCE and fall so short of the target VCE has created.

Still, it can be less clear who the leader is when the market is being filled with overly broad use of terms or when a category is highly diluted through purposefully ignorant press coverage. This drive by phone it in approach to writing happens when various consumer web blog empires stray to the coverage of enterprise and infrastructure.

Say, for example, a so-called tech journalist that covers the automobile industry trying to compare factory built automobiles to kit cars, bicycles, and skateboards – because both have wheels. Better yet, someone that sells skateboards becomes a trusted source for an audience that covers the market for automobile.

Setting aside the desire to simply make wild claims, there is always an audience that will take the path of lazy or stupid and hit the publish button. The good news is that there are times when smart coverage makes the stupid coverage look, well, even more stupid.

Now it’s a daily word

There is a moment where a clear leader is easily identified in a market. When that leader emerges the moment can be short lived or the preview to market dominance in an ever increasing competitive landscape.

Fact: VCE has been named the market share leader for integrated infrastructure systems by Gartner. This is not up for debate. (you know… a fact!)

Opinion: Every other VCE competitor that is chasing after the same market will have to match pace and come at VCE on every front of the the Vblock™ System Support Experience and overall customer experience. Full stop. They have to. Otherwise, these VCE competitors are basically conceding one or more areas of the experience that VCE is superior.

Being the leader in a market is also a curious state of being defined or categorized at a moment in time. Being known for leading something is not without peril. Words matter when there is a specific and unique occurrence that is being described for the first time and at the time of taking a leadership position. This is especially true in markets that are growing.

Seems you’re stuck

For example, I can recall working for companies in the past that claimed to own a specific market back in the late 1990s. It would go a little like this:

  • Company A realizes apples to apples comparison metrics put Company B in the leader position.
  • Company A then changes definitions and creates a new statistic that makes the numbers look more impressive.
  • The statistic, of course, meant absolutely nothing but now Company A is the leader.

Pretty slick right? Wrong. The fallout comes later but looks something like this:

  • Company A customers didn’t know they were part of the statistic.
  • Company A customers saw through it.
  • Company B calls out Company A – typically in public forums, etc…
  • Company A backs away from using the statistic in future marketing.
  • Analysts covering Company A are even more merciless in hounding around those flubbed statistics when year over year growth doesn’t match future reporting of the numbers.

Looking back, that market no longer exists today and many of those companies no longer exist as well. You have to have a direction and preside over your own destruction. It turns out you can go pretty fast in an automobile by putting it in neutral, rolling it down a hill, and eventually over a cliff. This would also apply to a skateboard. Hmmmm…

Hurry hurry step right up

Now that I’m on the West coast I’m looking forward to the new offices in Silicon Valley being a touch down for customer meetings. Being witness to phenomenal growth and continuous integration in our products and delivery capabilities has been delightful.

There is often a horse race mentality or a zero sum game point of view when regarding markets. The less myopic view is to also consider the overall size of a market and the consideration of that market as being in expansion versus contraction.

Here’s to the future.

Can you name this tune?

Speaking of the future… and in the spirit of adding another YouTube video to this post… It was a blast being part of the VCE team supporting one of our investors, EMC, and their amazing professionally trained dance troupe, the EMC Giddyups in this helpful instructional video. ;-)

Rumors of my transition into a song and dance career are greatly exaggerated. You know, they say the camera adds 15 pounds… or in my case… 95 pounds or so!