Market Intelligence for the Storage and Data Center Industries

By: Hattras  09-12-2011
Keywords: Product Development , data center, Data Storage


employs a methodology that delivers insights that other research organizations can't capture. As a result of our unique services, we have established a long track record working with EMC, CA, Dell, HDS, Cisco, McData, QLogic, Engenio, Symantec, and start-ups like BakBone Software, Copan Systems, Topspin (Cisco), Platys Communications (Adaptec), and Documentum (EMC).


HATTRAS conducts exclusive proprietary primary research for companies participating in the data storage and data center industries. We focus on providing customer, competitive, channel, and product insights that clients use to drive market differentiation, partner/customer relationships, and product development efforts. HATTRAS provides our clients with extensive international experience in the data storage market and related network data center technologies.

We also have the capacity to perform competitive lab analysis of products. The lab analysis information coupled with our primary research can prove to be a very powerful advantage when initiating or refining product go-to-market strategies.

Seven Reasons for Qualitative Research:

  1. The customer is becoming more powerful and influential
  2. Companies must continuously understand their customer expectations, needs and wants before their competitors
  3. Technology maturation and customer needs may not be in synch
  4. The competitive reality is not well understood nor adequately addressed
  5. Preventing non-competitive or “me-too” products that rapidly lose their competitive advantage
  6. Inadequate attention is paid to developing a product strategy and value proposition
  7. The product may be aimed at the wrong market niche, deliver the wrong message, or miss the existing opportunity

HATTRAS is experienced in delivering In-Depth Interviews (IDIs). We typically conduct IDIs via telephone using both quantitative and qualitative research techniques. As a third party, customers and partners feel comfortable being interviewed by HATTRAS. Our team of storage technology executives are able to quickly create peer-level relationships which provide opportunities for the interviewee to disclose concerns and kudos not often communicated directly to the product manufacture.

Our pre-interview methodology includes three major components:

  1. Determining the appropriate sample size based on vertical market, business segment, and worldwide geography
  2. Defining the target audience that has the desired knowledge and can deliver the critical data
  3. Crafting survey questions that facilitate a realistic dialogue and capture data tied to project deliverables

During the interview cycle HATTRAS professionals review the accuracy and consistency of the collected data on an ongoing basis. This process is performed in order to determine if the data can be used as a basis for developing subsequent tactics or strategy. Unanticipated data may represent new insights and cause a shift in the manner in which the data is being collected. Any adjustments need to be made in the early stages of the data gathering process.

Our expertise includes delivering analysis of the collected data, the opportunities and potential pitfalls it represents, key criteria for developing strategies and tactics for implementation. We deliver our insights at executive briefings; provide “Voice Of The Customer” documents as well as quantitative statistical data where appropriate.

In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) allow executives being interviewed to anonymously express their opinions. Often, executives are concerned that their comments will be attributed to them and can sour or potentially impact the vendor relationship. In addition, if they know they are speaking to an independent IT research firm, they will often reveal negative and critical information which they would likely withhold from a vendor for a variety of reasons. IDIs allow the interviewer to openly and honestly express themselves without the apprehension and guarded point of view that can be associated with group interviews.

Individual interviews can cover a considerable amount of ground in a short period of time and the HATTRAS interviewer can easily probe for additional information and clarification. We have considerable experience in communicating directly with decision makers about issues facing IT departments, and as a result, can pick out anomalies, priorities and withholds in the conversation that may require more clarification and information.

Customers have distinct needs and opinions. Our process places merit or relevance on the individual answer and diminishes the chances of group think. We seek and find unique answers to the questions presented and then during the analysis phase, we look for the common denominators and exceptional responses to base our insights and recommendations upon. This process has provided results that allow our clients to meet the genuine needs of their customers.

Unanticipated information often surfaces as interviewees are happy to express their visionary opinions and/or get on their soapboxes about problems and issues they are encountering. Often, these comments may not have a venue for getting expressed given the nature of their day-to-day responsibilities; however, we frequently find the insights expressed to be extremely valuable.

Senior executive time is very limited and IDIs support their busy, interrupt-driven schedules. Scheduling individual interviews supports their desire to contribute but also be respected for the limited time they may have to offer the survey.

IDIs provide the ability to conduct research free of the geographical limitations inherent to focus groups. As HATTRAS typically uses telephone-based IDIs, we can reach storage decision-makers in cities and countries that can't be covered using focus group methodology. Our methodology can chase them down no matter where they are physically located.

IDIs provide greater flexibility to the client in terms of managing the project scope. IDI pricing is significantly impacted by the increase or decrease in project scope. Reducing the number of interviews by 5 or 10 noticeably impacts the cost involved in the interview setup time, the time to conduct the actual interview, and the time associated with the required analysis and data roll-up of the interview. IDIs provide our clients budget flexibility without sacrificing the overall objective of the project.

On-Site IDIs

While HATTRAS is willing to consider conducting on-site IDIs if requested (for an additional day rate and expenses TBD), our experience is that IDIs actually work best over the phone. Executives in enterprise organizations often have to suddenly reschedule a committed time for an interview. Additionally, we have no experience to suggest that the cost to conduct on-site IDIs will provide any greater insight from the interview process, especially if measured against an increase of the project budget. On-site IDIs have merit when the project involves trying to research or watch how an organization was implementing and utilizing a specific software tool or wanting to know how things are physically connected in a data center.

HATTRAS promotes ongoing access to a market intelligence board by assisting clients create Customer Advisory Boards (CABs). Our customers are turning to CABs to continuously gain feedback on strategic priorities while solidifying relationships with top customers. CABs can have a broader impact on a company relative to a single research project as they can provide sales, marketing and product development executives with very cost effective benefits including:

  • Improving customer retention by establishing a community of executives and users that can share best practices to improve the experience of using your product
  • Increasing revenues by validating your current business and technical approaches and identifying new business opportunities
  • Building solutions that provide value to customers by understanding the business and technical issues that drive product and service requirements
  • Testing out real product and services issues with customers who have a vested interest in what you are selling

Our recognized role has been our ability to create stimulating discussions that balances the needs of the CAB members with the needs of our client. Sustained CAB participation is contingent upon board members returning to their companies with actionable take-a-ways. Our deliverables impact current go-to-market strategies and tactics, and create a roadmap or validated direction for the future.  

In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) with individual board members provide the means to capture follow-up issues and maintain and cultivate the relationships between board meetings.  

Keywords: data center, Data Storage, Product Development , qualitative research, Quantitative And Qualitative Research