What is a VMware Technical Account Manager
Almost three years ago I joined VMware to work as a Technical Account Manager or TAM. When I joined, I had no clue what a TAM does. I’ve heard about TAMs before. Microsoft has TAMs, Cisco has ’em too. But as I learned quickly, a TAM at VMware is different. And the name actually does not do justice to the job. “Customer Enablement and Satisfaction Consultant” would cover the job better.
VMware’s main business is making amazing software. Next to that, VMware has a Professional Services Organization. VMware PSO employs architects and consultants to help customers get the most out of the products. They help design, implement and optimize SDDC infrastructures. If you want to know more about VMware PSO, look here. TAMs are also a part of VMware PSO. That means that it is a post-sales service that a customer acquires.
So what do you do
I’m often asked “what do you do at VMware?”. When I say “I’m a Technical Account Manager”, a lot of people respond with “oh, you’re in sales!”. No, I’m not. A TAM is a post-sales, services oriented job. A main objective of the TAM at VMware is to make sure that the customer is happy and satisfied with the experience he has with the products he bought. Now that may be a bit of a vague statement. The essence is that a TAM usually is at a customer longer and aims to know this customer better so the customer’s priorities can be met better. To do so TAMs have a collection of services we can deliver to add more value to the customer’s experience with VMware and its products. Basically you can divide the services a TAM can deliver up in three categories: Technology focussed, Business focussed and People focussed.
With business focussed we aim to help the customer reach their business goals. TAMs can help align the customer business requirements and priorities to services to create a strategic roadmap for the next quarters. With this roadmap goals are reached in a controlled and timely fashion. Next to planning actions and putting them on a roadmap, optimisation of the current platform and services can also greatly improve IT agility and flexibility so the customer organisation can more easily adept to changes. Lastly and this is my favourite, are industry benchmarks. How do you compare to your peers in the industry? The VMware TAM program is a worldwide service. We have metrics from all over the world in any industry. This can be very valuable to a customer as nobody can honestly tell them how they perform compared to other organisations in the same industry in terms of benchmarks and value add. The VMware TAM can. What benchmark figures can that be? That varies and can go from ‘what is the majority of businesses in your industry using in their datacenter’ or ‘how many VM’s do your peers have per admin’ up to ‘what business critical applications do you have virtualised?’ Figures that give you an idea where you stand as a business and maybe can shift your focus to a different area that may need more attention.
As the job is called Technical Account manager, you may initially think that all we do is tech. The previous paragraph may have changed your mind on that already, but of course we can focus on the technical side as well. Your VMware TAM can get you access to product specialists, enlist you in beta tests, help solve problems by being the intermediate between VMware’s Global Support Services and the customer, do healthchecks on the virtual infrastructure and point out potential issues in that infrastructure. A TAM can also help you by sharing VMware’s Best Practices or Validated Designs with you and help you architecture your new SDDC. One of my favourite parts of the technical services is that we may share product roadmaps with our customers. As a TAM customer we give you unique insights into where VMware is taking its products and how that fits into a modern day datacenter. These product roadmaps help you to plan for the future.
Also, VMware’s TAMs usually are seasoned IT experts. Many of them have 20 years or more of IT experience. When you buy the TAM service, you also get the experience you can benefit from in all sorts of ways. Most TAMs can help you out with IT architecture dilemma’s on all kinds of levels. It may not even be VMware related.
Businesses are about people doing work. As a result of the financial crisis a few years ago, many organisations decided to cut on their educations budget. But as people do the work day in and day out, it’s important that they are equipped to do the best job they can possibly do. TAMs can also assist here. We can organise a knowledge assessment for the IT staff. With the results of that assessment, we can then plan an educations plan with the customer organisation and the IT staff to enable them in the best way possible. This way your IT organisation is better able to handle problems and outages and will be quicker on their feet when a problem does arise.
Also regularly there are online webinars on new products, technical deepdives, architecture sessions on a variety of topics and more, especially for TAM customers.
VMworld and beyond
VMworld is VMware’s prime customer event. It’s held in the US and Europe and it’s the best event (and maybe even the biggest industry event) to see what’s coming your way in the next year or two. TAM customers have an added bonus on VMworld. First of all there is TAM day, which is on the day before the actual event starts. On TAM day you can attend unique product and roadmap sessions and meet product managers and experts face to face to talk to them about your use-case. During VMworld TAM customers have a special place called TAM Customer Central or TCC where special closed group sessions are held, only accessible to TAM customers. These sessions are much smaller than the ‘normal’ breakout sessions so there is much more room for your questions. Both TAM day and TCC are organised and manned by TAMs.
Next to that, it may be so that there are local events where your TAM will invite you for. Roundtables, roadshows, industry events, online webinars, you name it. There are a lot of VMware initiatives out there and your TAM may get you in a lot of them, if you want to.
So there it is. You can imagine that it’s not easy to answer the question “what do you do as a VMware TAM?”. Most of it depends on what our customer asks of us, where his organisation is in terms of maturity phase, what the goals are for the coming period and also how much the customer is willing to share with the VMware TAM. The TAM is usually in there for the long run. A standard TAM engagement is for at least one year, where the aim is to have at least one contact point a week. We aim to be that trusted advisor that everybody speaks of. And that is what I like most about my job. Every customer is unique in it’s own way and I may help them get the most out of what they have and get them where they are aiming to go. A TAM is there for you.