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Customer-Centric Leadership: A Conversation with ZEDEDA’s VP of Customer Experience

May 29, 2024

    1. How has your path in customer experience and customer success brought you to your current role as VP of Customer Experience at ZEDEDA?
      My path to this role has been influenced by a combination of several factors. Firstly, the experience I gained building and growing customer experience and customer success businesses in both Fortune 500 and startup companies has been invaluable. The lessons I’ve learned in these environments enable me to understand a company’s maturity and help propel it to the next level – something I believe ZEDEDA is ready for.Secondly, my nearly 30 years working in cybersecurity, networking, compute/storage, ML/AI, and IoT solutions has shaped my expertise. My time at companies like Hitachi, NetApp, HPE, Palo Alto Networks, Aryaka, and Blue Data has provided a rich background that I’m excited to apply as ZEDEDA continues to be a thought leader in the edge computing space.
    2. As a customer success leader, what interests you about the edge computing space? And how will you apply what you’ve experienced in other industries to the edge computing industry?The edge computing space captivates  me due to its vast range of use cases, which I call “the art of the possible.” We’re seeing direct benefits for companies seeking to collect, process, and analyze data at the edge in order to maximize operational efficiencies, enhance customer experience, and/or open new revenue streams. For example, an oil and gas company generated both budget savings and enhanced accuracy by automating drilling operations and a retail company enhanced its customer experience by automating security, point-of-sale, and inventory management at all their brick-and-mortar stores.

      While the edge computing market is still relatively untapped, its requirements very closely mimic the ones experienced in cloud computing, digital transformation, and cybersecurity initiatives. Hence, we are able to see how these learnings can be applied to the edge computing world.

    3. What specifically attracted you to ZEDEDA, and what excites you most about the company’s vision, mission, and position in the edge computing space?
      What attracted me most to ZEDEDA is its position as a thought leader in this rapidly expanding market. Analysts project that the edge computing market will reach $158B by 2030 at a 38% CAGR. That’s significant, and it highlights ZEDEDA’s commitment to driving edge computing communities like LF Edge, partnering with key allies like Emerson, Rockwell Automation, and VMware, and directly helping customers like PVH and BOBST achieve their edge computing goals. This gives ZEDEDA a deep pulse on all aspects of this fast-growing industry, creating a solid platform to enable advanced edge AI solutions.
    4. How does ZEDEDA define customer experience? And what key elements would you like to see added to this definition in the near future?
      We define customer experience as our ability to ensure customers and partners realize the full value of their investment in ZEDEDA. They’re looking for partners who can work alongside them on their edge computing journey, as they’re investing significant time, resources, budgets, and ideas into new solutions. We don’t take these partnerships lightly; our goal is to be a true collaborator, not just a technology vendor. That’s why we prioritize a white-glove approach, which means exceeding expectations, ensuring timely or early realization of value, and seamlessly supporting the growth and expansion of new ideas and use cases. This approach fosters a strong partnership where we can meet and exceed customer demands while navigating challenges together.

      To achieve this, we must first understand our customers’ expectations. We want to set clear goals while also simplifying every step: from procurement to roadmap collaboration, to providing feedback channels. It’s about building a partnership where they can rely on us throughout their edge computing journey—an exciting and evolving space where the desired end results are still being shaped.

    5. Increasing its focus on customer success is a critical stage in ZEDEDA’s growth strategy. Why do you think this is an important step, and how do you see this contributing to ZEDEDA’s overall business objectives?
      This is a pivotal moment for the company. We’re entering a mature stage where we must deliver results while strategically guiding our growth trajectory. The recent Series C investment validates the market’s potential and our customers’ faith in ZEDEDA. This obligates us to accelerate our efforts to maintain thought leadership while providing an even higher level of customer-focused service.

      We currently provide customers with excellent support from defining the value of their investment, through implementation, to realizing that value. This includes technical support, education, training, and ongoing executive engagement. As we grow, we’ll expand a similarly tailored approach to our OEM relationships and continue to contribute to the broader edge computing community, all while maintaining our direct customer focus. Our goal is for all stakeholders—direct customers, OEM partners, and the community—to feel a strong sense of partnership with ZEDEDA throughout this journey.

      As we scale, our commitment to customer success and experience also becomes even more vital. We have to avoid losing sight of the customer experience amidst our growth. Our focus reflects our determination to mature at a rapid pace, living up to the confidence investors have placed in us.

    6. What are the most significant challenges facing customers as they try to achieve success at the edge?
      Three primary challenges our customers face when aiming for success in the edge computing space are:

      • Mismatched pace of change: People, process, and technology often achieve innovation at different speeds. Technology tends to outpace the processes and people needed to fully implement it, especially when moving from idea to production-ready operations.
      • Security concerns: Security remains a top priority, encompassing virtual, network, data, and physical vulnerabilities. Unlike centralized cloud environments, edge computing presents greater risk due to distributed devices with varying levels of robustness.
      • Slow adoption in traditional industries: Industries well-suited for edge computing (like manufacturing and oil and gas) often have  slower rates of change due to established standards. Overcoming the inherent inertia in these sectors poses a significant obstacle when introducing innovative edge solutions.
    7. How will you ensure current and future customers gain the most value from ZEDEDA’s solution offerings?
      It’s absolutely imperative that we do whatever it takes for our customers to realize the value of their investment in us. We don’t take their commitment to work with us lightly and we want to work closely with them to ensure their success plans are well-defined and executed on time. We’ll play a direct role in achieving their success criteria and removing any roadblocks within our control.Our customers are not too dissimilar from customers of Ferrari. Some customers want to win a race, others just want to cruise Miami Beach at 5 MPH. But both have put their faith in the car manufacturer to help them reach those completely different goals. Our job is the same. We understand that our customers have unique journeys; our purpose is to empower their success along the way.
    8. What do you see as the biggest opportunities for ZEDEDA in the current and future market landscape? How will you and your team capitalize on these opportunities to build customer relationships and drive greater value?
      Like Jeff Bezos famously said, “We’re not competitor obsessed; we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.” At ZEDEDA, we will continue to listen to our customers and partners, and drive thought leadership in this space to elevate the customer experience.Our biggest opportunities lie in three areas:

      • Customer focus: Continuously listen to our customers and meet their evolving edge computing needs.
      • Partnerships: Collaborate with OEM partners, both current and new, to become a key component of their solution stack and support their growth.
      • Thought leadership: Remain a thought leader in the edge computing community.

      This multi-faceted approach allows us to reach customers directly and indirectly through OEM partners, positioning us as valuable contributors in broader thought leadership conversations. We also need to expand our footprint into the edge AI space –  a distinct but related market. Tapping into edge AI alongside our edge computing expertise presents a massive opportunity.

      My team will capitalize on these opportunities by staying true to the Bezos philosophy: obsess over customers, listen intently, and lead the charge in this space to provide an unparalleled customer experience.

    9. How do you envision the customer success team collaborating with Product, Sales, and other departments to ensure a seamless customer experience?I firmly believe that customer success and customer experience must be a discipline and core company directive, not just the responsibility of a single team. While a dedicated Customer Experience team advocates for the customer within the company, delivering a seamless and frictionless experience is everyone’s responsibility. This requires tight collaboration between Customer Experience and all other departments.

      If we focus on ensuring our customers realize the value of their investment, top-line revenue will naturally follow. This philosophy—that everyone must contribute to delivering an exceptional customer experience—is something I’d like to reinforce within our company. As organizations grow, it’s easy to fall into the “silos trap” and lose sight of the customer. We need to actively work against that, ensuring customer experience remains a true discipline throughout the organization.

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