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May - 2008 - issue > Last Word
Catch-Someone-Doing-Something-Right
George Thomas
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
When I started NetApp in India in 2000, along with two colleagues, we were a $600 million company. Today we are a $2.8 billion company (fiscal year 2007) worldwide, and have consistently been featuring among the top three networked storage vendors in India for the past four years. I would classify the story of our business growth in India into three stages - Startup, Productivity and Enterprise.

In the startup phase, it was all about making breakthroughs and being relevant to the market's needs. In a product category like enterprise data storage, which is critical to a customer's IT infrastructure and where there are established players, one has to build credibility among customers. I am happy to say that the initial customers we gained during that phase continue to be - even today - happy customers and strong advocates, even after their infrastructure has undergone multiple technology refresh cycles. We have grown with these customers.

Because of the explosive growth in electronic data and the associated storage and data management challenges, pure play storage vendors soon transitioned from being niche players to broad based IT Infrastructure players. This is what I would call the productivity phase. It was the time to take our rightful position in the marketplace and we executed flawlessly on this, leading to our emergence as the third most sought after networked storage vendor in India. Our customer base now includes the 'who's who of the Indian industry', across all the verticals.

What has changed from the initial startup days? The company has implemented strong business processes, such as customer support and professional services, to support our aggressive revenue growth and the increasingly sophisticated customer requirements. If you don't implement effective business processes, you will not make the cut and I can hardly over emphasise this.

During these growth years, what has not changed is our focus on innovation and culture. Innovation is all about being the first to identify underlying customer problems and then seizing the market opportunity by delivering solutions to address those problems. Along with this what is equally important is the culture of the organization because it is the culture that brings out the best in an organization's employees and motivates them to deliver.

From a culture standpoint, while we are moving from a person dependent to a more institutionalized, process driven organization, we have always focused on the individual contribution of each employee or channel partner. This is also the reason for having one of the lowest employee attrition rates in the industry and the strong commitment from our channel partners.

Nothing exemplifies our unique culture more than what we call "Catch Someone Doing Something Right". The leadership of the company is asked to spot an employee or a team that has gone beyond his or her or their immediate job description and made a significant contribution to the company or the customer. Such employees or teams are recognized publicly in our company and this has motivated most of us to give our best and then some more!

We strongly feel that at this point of time, our customers, channel partners and employees have brought us to the enterprise phase with no margin of error. We are in a good position as compared to our peers in the industry. and the company's continued focus on innovation and culture will take us to a market leadership position soon.

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