Why phone-home makes strategic sense?

PUNEET PANDIT
Saturday, May 31, 2014

I have come across many sales situations where customers are unsure or wary of asking their customers to send regular feeds of the machine-generated data (logs). This feature is known as phone-home or call-home. The fact is that all high technology devices, systems and networks are constantly generating all kinds of log data (syslogs, configs, stats, static etc). This is now called the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon. The manufacturers (of these “things”) always collect this data when their customers report a problem – what could be a better way to find the root cause of the problem than doing forensics on this log data and see what was going on a few minutes, hours or days before this problem happened.

So conceptually, everyone gets the value on mining this data. Then the question remains – why do you want to be reactive on this front? Why not be proactive or even predictive and be prescriptive to your customers before problems occur? Now, if that’s the holy grail of customer support, how do you get there? The answer is simple – Implement a call-home feature on your system. Collect an efficient bundle of log data at a regular frequency to know what is happening at the system level before the customer sees a potential problem. Check out this WHITE PAPER FROM GLASSBEAM on best practices for generating product operational data (aka machine data, logs) and guidelines on implementing a call-home strategy.

I guess the barrier in implementing this call-home strategy, however intuitive it may be comes from many fronts. Specifically, I have fielded objections such as:

“My customer will never send the log data to us due to security issues”

“What’s in it for my customer – I am unable to convince them on business case”

“ My field organization is fighting many fires – this is way down in priority for them to push their customers to send us call-home”

“ Do I really need so much data every day from each of my customer sites – how would I store, manage, and analyze it – not equipped to do any of that”

“I have my limited (support) use cases on this data – this has to be corporate wide initiative for it to make sense – and that is not me”

Suffice to say all these questions are valid but can be easily overcome with sound logic. I will address them in detail in a follow-up blog. For now, I wanted to give everyone a perspective that leading companies across many verticals like storage, wireless, medical etc. have done pioneer work in this area already. I am talking companies like Cisco, NetApp, EMC, GE, Siemens, Diebold etc. Each of these companies has invested millions of dollars in people and IT resources to build call-home solutions. Not everyone can afford to do what these companies have done. It is just too expensive, onerous and complicated to build in-house, and therefore BUILD VS. BUY ARGUMENT has tilted in favor of solutions like Glassbeam.

More on this topic and handling objections to call-home in a subsequent blog soon… so stay tuned.