The power of collaboration
How User Groups benefit all stakeholders
October 5, 2018 in
There are many dangers in bringing together a group of customers along with a vendor and an integrator. You can never be sure how different personalities will respond to each other or predict the mood. Get it right and the transfer of knowledge, sense of common purpose and shared experience can create a powerful team determined to succeed together. Even the geekiest of us is a very sociable animal and we love working in teams when we feel that we are respected, valued and contributing to a common goal. If you Google “team work” you will see a vast array of clichéd quotes about how teams achieve more than individuals. Most are a bit too saccharine for my taste but I can’t resist repeating this one; “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” Apparently it’s from an old African Proverb rather than a management consultant.
In this spirit we invited some of our Higher Education clients, from a diverse range of UK Universities and Colleges, along with the Product Management team of preferred vendor Aerohive who flew in from California, to our second annual Aerohive HE User Group. Over a day and a half of relaxed conversation we shared our experiences, good and bad, although thankfully they were overwhelmingly good, of deploying Wi Fi in very challenging high density environments. Our clients had privileged access to an exciting road map and were able to feedback many ideas on product improvement. Having direct access to a vendor’s product team is very unusual in an industry dominated by US Tech Giants and one of the benefits of working with a disruptive innovative vendor like Aerohive. The feedback provided is also “gold” to a product management team. Products developed in silos and isolation are not good products!
We all learnt a lot from the group; the importance of good design, and the huge difference that a professional and customer focused partner like AIT makes to a project, the significant improvement that 802.11ax will bring (more on that here) and the threats and opportunities that 25 billion IoT devices will pose by 2020 and how Aerohive will address both aspects of this revolution with new security solutions. The group was also able to evaluate some of the first production units of the new ATOM and discussed a number of possible uses for this innovate Access Point.
User Groups only work if all 3 parties; customer, vendor and integrator, are prepared to provide open and honest feedback and engage collaboratively without being defensive or focused on narrow objectives. There has to be common ground and a shared sense of purpose. The vendor has to provide direct access to product development decision makers’ not just regional sales, marketing or support teams. Most importantly all parties have to feel that they are being listened to and that their voice is influential. It should not be an exercise in “death by power point”, seen as an opportunity to “sell” or used to punish mistakes. Done right it is a great forum to share best practise and help to improve technology for the benefit of all. If you don’t already attend or host a User Group, I would urge you to give it a go and experience the power of collaboration. You might go a bit more slowly but you will go further!!
If you would be interested in attending a User Group hosted by AIT please contact us here