September 18, 2017

Aligned CEO Andrew Schaap writes about how success in the “Age of the Customer” requires a true partnership with the data center.

By Andrew Schaap, CEO, Aligned

Quick Take

  • Companies that thrive in the Age of the Customer do so by being fast, responsive, and scalable.
  • Success requires a data center partner who can deliver compute, storage, and network capacity nimbly and quickly.
  • Ultimately, having strong, reliable partners is about mitigating risk.

In 2011 the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote a now-famous op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why Software Is Eating the World.” In it, he predicted “More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services – from movies to agriculture to national defense.”

He was right, of course. But software doesn’t have a mind of its own; software has eaten the world because consumers are hungry.

With appetites for instant access whetted by the likes of Netflix and Amazon, consumers began to demand instant access to other services as well. Gone are the days of waiting for a show to air, or for IT to procure and install new software, or for the doctor’s office to call back with the test results. This is what Forrester calls the Age of the Customer, in which “the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.”

“Software has eaten the world because consumers are hungry.” – Click to Tweet

The impact of consumer empowerment on businesses can hardly be overstated. It has brought an era of what McKinsey calls “relentlessly evolving business models.” Companies that have figured out how to thrive in this environment are winning the battle for market share and profit growth. And how do they thrive? By being fast, responsive, and scalable.

Underpinning it all: Digital infrastructure

In a world in which every business is a digital business, being a fast, responsive, and scalable business requires IT to have the same qualities. And IT, of course, depends on the data center. As Gartner says, infrastructure and operations “is no longer IT support – it’s the engine the drives digital business.”

And that’s where we come in. Our clients have to scale quickly and pivot nimbly in response to their customers’ demands. We help make that possible.

“Companies thrive in the Age of the Customer by being fast, responsive, and scalable.” – Click to Tweet

As I wrote in my last blog post, “Organizations are only as agile, fast, and visionary as their data centers. Cloud, colocation, or on-premises, the data center is the factory of the digital age. Success requires a data center partner who can deliver compute, storage, and network capacity nimbly and quickly and has a strategic vision for how to meet the capacity needs of tomorrow.”

It’s still about the people

Part of the way we help our clients meet their customers’ seemingly insatiable demand is through technology: sustainable and efficient designs (PUE, WUE, CUE), flexible resiliency options, future-proofing, flexible densities, and the ability to move into new markets quickly.

In addition to the technology, the people are essential. Until the robots take over the world, human relationships matter. It’s still people selecting sites, negotiating contracts, operating the network operations center, powering the remote hands. It’s still people meeting delivery commitments, responsible for operational uptime and reliability, accountable when things don’t go as planned.

“Ultimately, having strong, reliable partners is about mitigating risk.” – Click to Tweet

One reason I joined Aligned is the caliber of the individuals who make up this company and their commitment to our clients. Even as we continue to talk about the operational excellence and technological innovation that drives value for our clients, we also talk the simple yet essential things that make doing business with Aligned easy. For example: our commitment to moving fast from proposal to provisioning, our flexible design/deal structures, and our easy legal/financial process.

Ultimately, having strong, reliable partners is about mitigating risk.

In a recently released white paper, Solving the Capacity Challenge, we talk about how overcoming the tactical challenge of delivering capacity quickly is all about mitigating risk – mitigating the risk of not being able to meet the needs of the business. “It requires the ability to bring capacity online quickly, which requires a reliable data center partner that will deliver – a data center partner that is easy to work with, from initial discussions about requirements all the way through to day-to-day operations.”