When I was in high school I was crazy about a girl in my English class. When she walked down the hall, male heads snapped around fast enough to cause an epidemic of whiplash, and I was determined to go out with her. Being an analytical sort even then, I figured that the best way to win her heart was to determine what was important to her and base my approach on that. As a result of my intense observation of her behavior—stalking hadn’t been invented yet—I determined she was a rock and roll fan and that asking her to a concert was the key to success. Naturally, if you’re talking rock, you’re talking the Stones; so armed with two ducats to see Keith and Mick, I asked her to accompany me to the event. Although she let me down easy, my shattered ego was further assaulted when she wound up going to see the Go-Go’s—a group that is to rock as a Schwinn is to a Mercedes–with a friend of mine. Obviously, an evening of listening to Jumpin’ Jack Flash wasn’t what she was looking for. Recently I was reminded of this painful moment from my past when I read an article about a survey that found that a facility’s “greenness” wasn’t a major consideration for enterprise customers.
I could be snide and say, “I told you so” to all of those slaves to Greenpeace—and I will, later—but first a little background is in order. Apparently a provider out there who has based their marketing strategy around the “greenness” of their facilities decided to do a little survey to obtain a post hoc validation of their strategy only to find that, “most IT department’s don’t really look at energy efficiency or sustainability when comparing different service providers”. Naturally, they must have found this somewhat disconcerting since they buy Renewable Energy Credits to offset 100% of their energy use and have based their marketing plan around their belief that prospective customers will find this to be a competitive game changer. This is obviously going to require some strategic re-evaluation. Might I suggest Go-Go’s tickets?
Isn’t this really just another example of so many in our industry not basing their decisions on what folks actually need, but in response to the wants of the few who yell the loudest? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that being green can’t have some bearing on a final customer decision. I imagine that a data center equipped with smokestacks belching black soot into the sky is going to get a lower “Intangible” score on the RFP review sheet than one that doesn’t but, as the survey illustrates, in most cases “Look at me, I’m green” is greeted with “Big Freakin’ Deal”.
I may sound like a broken record, but at the end of the day, it is all about the stewardship of the resources you have, not whether or not Al Gore thinks what you are doing is a good idea. The elimination of waste and efficient use of the resources used is the hands down, unarguable greenest position in the data center space. Want to be green, eliminate waste in all shapes and forms.
I suppose that when you have to deal with the prospect of having your next shareholder’s meeting crashed by a flock of ill-mannered zealots, to whom the phrase “get a job” is the equivalent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, you feel a lot of pressure to dance to their tune. In a sense, maybe all of us smaller guys should aspire to reaching a size where capitulation becomes a more viable business strategy than delivering solutions that address a customer’s actual needs. Let me be the first to say, “I hope not”. What these survey results do indicate is something that we all know, success is largely due to a company’s ability to deliver on a customer’s needs and not their wants—and having the wisdom to understand which is which. In other words, while we may believe everyone loves the Stones, there are one heck of a lot of Go-Go’s fans out there.