RackTop is not a Fortune 500 company. And Seaboard, who currently owns the number 500 spot with revenues of 4.3 billion, doesn’t need to worry that we’ll displace them anytime soon. At Interop last week I was asked how a small company like RackTop could better serve its customers compared to someone like Amazon*. My answer was something to the effect of accessibility and good old fashioned customer service. In a small business, you can get to the top decision makers. Though I haven’t tried, I don’t think it would be as easy to get Jeff Bezos on the phone – unless of course you’re Steve Jobs. With larger companies, accessibility is tied to voice. If you are a bigger client, you have a bigger voice. And bigger voices get more attention. Now this isn’t novel, but purchasing a few instances in the Amazon EC2 which arbitrarily accounts for a minority share of their total business provides much less voice comparatively speaking to that same purchase with a smaller company. It’s not that you are any less important, but rather an economy of scale. If you are looking for reasons to go small, this is one of them.
The second part of my answer is what I call good old fashioned customer service. To me that means establishing a relationship with your customers, talking to them, shaking their hand, and letting them know that you are in it together. This is not easy for large companies. There are too many layers and turnover is too high. The customer never really gets beyond the entry level sales guy (unless that customer has voice; see my prior point). With a smaller company, that’s not the case. The corporate layers are less and every piece of business means more. The company is more invested in the customer and the customer develops a stronger trust with the company. I believe that any CEO would tell you that their company cares. It’s just that smaller companies are more capable of showing it.
The nitty gritty is that smaller companies have a lot of advantages over larger ones. They are more agile, more accessible, can more easily show they care, and can better adapt to their customer’s needs. And while smaller companies sometimes charge more than their larger counterparts and may present a greater potential risk due to financials, they present an overall better value because of these abilities. As RackTop creeps its way onto the Fortune 500 list, our challenge is to not lose the values and agility of our youth (no worries – we’re a few zeros away as it stands). We view ourselves as an extension of our customers. Whether you are running your private storage cloud on a stack of Brickstors, or protecting your data with an EBR, we take pride that what we’ve created is helping run your business.
So when you are making a decision on what to buy, be sure to consider companies not on the Fortune 500 list. Think about the overall impact – the TCO – that solution will have on your business. Challenge yourself to not just go with the status quo offering. Think about what your business means to you, and what it means to the company you select. Think about your needs and the key values of accessibility and customer service. Perhaps you’ll find that a company like RackTop is exactly what you are looking for.
*Amazon is currently ranked 78 on the Fortune 500