The Cutting Edge of Customer Relationships

Staying competitive these days means forging deeper, more innovative, and sometimes surprising working relationships with customers.  For example, Quantum is partnering with its top OEMs on projects like sharing business information in new ways, jointly how-hr-can-help-firms-go-digital-300x200creating more effective processes, and even collaborating on technological advances to products.

Here are several examples of Quantum’s unique customer partnerships, and how they are changing the way Quantum and its customers do business.

Improving Supply-Chain Processes With Dell

Dell taught the high-tech world a few lessons in customer service with its build-to-order manufacturing process, which relies heavily on stellar supply-chain management.  Partnering with Dell helped Quantum develop its own supply-chain system, “Quantum Supply Online.”  It’s a web-based system that will give key customers real-time access to critical inventory information, like how many drives from their order are in the configuration center, how many are in transit, and how many are in the warehouse.  In time, Quantum Supply Online will even allow key customers like Dell to enter build forecasts directly into Quantum’s order system and update them later if demand changes.  Such centralized, customized, real-time information allows customers to plan production with certainty.

Over the last year Quantum and Dell jointly developed Quantum Supply Online in conjunction with Dell’s extranet website, ValueChain.Dell.com.  “What we’re essentially doing is trading inventory for information,” says Adrian Jones, Quantum’s Dell account team leader.  “With this kind of visibility into the pipeline, Dell won’t have to keep so much inventory with Quantum.  This enables both companies to become more streamlined and efficient.”

Sharing Engineering Expertise With Compaq

For years the computer industry suffered tremendous fallout on the manufacturing floor due to disk drive mishandling.  Frequent turnover in personnel made it impossible to ensure that every worker was properly educated on drive handling techniques.

Compaq’s David White, manager of mechanical research/PC storage development recalls, “This was our number one issue on the factory floor, and it was clear it wasn’t going to change soon.  Anything we could do to lessen the fragility of the drive and our exposure to costly rework and scrap would save us a lot of money and produce a better product for our customers.”

Quantum and Compaq launched a major collaborative effort to understand the characteristics of drives that performed well in the factory.  The initial breakthrough was the development of a new test fixture, fondly known as the “David White flop-drop box.”  This new tester allowed Quantum engineers to more accurately duplicate what was happening on the production line, with the high levels of repeatability needed to verify potential fixes.

“This is just another example of a longstanding strategic partnership with Compaq,” says Quantum’s Tim Eiland, team leader for Compaq’s Desktop Storage Products.  “They also played a major role in product planning for the 5.25” Bigfoot drive; helped develop the new SMART test system, which monitors the health of a drive; and they defined the original DST and Error Logging specifications that ultimately became Quantum’s Data Protection System.”

Saving Money for Hewlett-Packard

Another example of the trend toward creative working relationships with customers is Quantum’s Generic Drive Program with Hewlett-Packard.  The program started as a cost-savings effort within Quantum, whereby the company would try to move certain customers purchasing the more expensive configured drives to more cost-effective generic ones.  Customers were often hesitant to switch because they believed a generic drive couldn’t meet their special configuration needs.  Quantum was able to help one large OEM, HP’s Home Products Division, overcome its hesitation.  Logistics engineers partnered with HP to address each of their technical concerns, one by one, until they were convinced the generic drives would, after all, serve them well.  And as an added benefit, HP is saving money by buying the less expensive product.

 

Archive:  Published in Quantum’s employee magazine, Quantum Globe