The Nutanix Technical Account Manager (TAM) team is a worldwide service dedicated to ensuring customer success. I sat down with several members of the team to learn more about what TAMs do and how they help Nutanix customers succeed. Here is the edited transcript of the discussion.
Bill Updale leads the Nutanix TAM organization worldwide. Before joining Nutanix, he worked as a TAM at VMware and Microsoft. Bill has been with Nutanix for a few years now and started as the second TAM after the function was formed.
Daniel Hinojosa has been a Nutanix TAM for the U.S. since 2017. Key accounts include:
- Global retailer with over 2,000 Nutanix nodes
- Global manufacturer with almost 700 nodes
- Large public sector utility in Western US with a rapidly expanding Nutanix footprint
Nadim Habib spent more than four years as a Nutanix support manager before joining the TAM team a year ago. He serves customers in the east coast, including:
- Investment company with over 800 nodes
- Leading diagnostics and healthcare company with over 1,400 nodes
- US national hospital chain with over 2,000 nodes
Sachin: Would you explain the function of a Technical Account Manager?
Bill: A Technical Account Manager is a customer-facing role at Nutanix. A TAM brings a combination of technical and business skills to the job to help Nutanix customers increase the success of their Day Two operations, including lifecycle management, escalations, and scaling. Many customers engage a Nutanix TAM from the beginning—which is often ideal—but TAMs are able to add significant value for established Nutanix environments as well. Our TAM service is well suited for any customer who is seeking to modernize operations by embracing HCI, multi-cloud, or hybrid cloud operations.
Sachin: What are the different levels of engagement for TAMs?
In our standard service, each TAM works with just a few customers. The TAM is typically in the same country and speaks the local language—for instance we have TAMs fluent in French and Japanese—and is available for onsite visits when needed. This service is well suited to large enterprise customers.
We recently added a second offering, our Inside Technical Account Manager or ITAM service. ITAMs work remotely from Nutanix centers of excellence in the US, Mexico, Serbia, and India. ITAMs typically communicate with customers in English, otherwise, the value proposition of the service is the same. I think this service is ideal for customers with smaller but fast-growing Nutanix installations.
Sachin: What is the day-to-day role of a TAM?
Daniel: A TAM’s daily routine is quite interesting. We cover everything from helping our customers manage their upgrade debt to proactively planning strategies for scaling and growth. One area that is challenging for customers is to make sure they understand the right recipe for their environment, especially when operating at a very large scale across multiple organizations.
Operating systems get upgraded regularly, but people often fail to update underlying firmware. TAMs track hardware and software advisories and help ensure customers stay current across the entire stack, including firmware, Nutanix software, and any partner and ecosystem components in their solution stack. Based on my experience, customers with systems running current versions of software and firmware report significantly fewer P1 level events. In my weekly customer meetings, we always discuss upgrades, including the current code recommendation, the emergency recommendation (in case they hit a bug), and anything coming up on the roadmap. For retail customers, this includes making sure that any necessary upgrades take place before the critical holiday period.
Nadim: Adding to Daniel’s answer, Nutanix TAMs also help track lifecycle and operations considerations pertaining to our OEM and supported hardware partners. As Nutanix software becomes available on more and more platforms, customers work with TAMs to ensure operational excellence specific to HPE, Lenovo, or one of our other partners.
The true purpose of a TAM is to become a trusted advisor to the customer. We build close relationships with our customers so they feel comfortable with the advice we provide regarding field advisories, security advisories, and so on. While we spend some time being reactive—ensuring that any problems or concerns that arise are resolved quickly—we also try to focus as much attention on being proactive in order to ensure that potential issues are avoided.
Sachin: Bill, what characteristics make for a successful TAM?
Bill: We look for TAMs who have a good combination of technical and business skills. A good TAM has technical aptitude and a broad technical background including infrastructure and datacenter experience. However, non-technical skills are just as important. For example, good communication skills are critical for a TAM’s success. This is why many TAMs come from a consulting or professional services background, where they have built a lot of customer-facing experience.
We are a tight-knit team. Our TAMs have skills that are complementary to each other. Some are stronger technically in one area; others have better business skills in another. We support each other so that we are doing our best to ensure that customer needs are met as quickly as possible.
Sachin: I see TAMs also playing a role in connecting the right subject matter experts to help ensure our customer’s success. How do TAMs interact with other teams in Nutanix?
Bill: Being a TAM is a very cross-functional role. TAMs regularly have to work with other people in Nutanix support, engineering, and other teams to advocate for the customer and ensure that customer needs are being met. It’s a job that can require a lot of diplomacy.
Daniel: Building relationships is key to the success of a TAM. Everyone on our team has the ability to meet someone, get to know them, and establish a productive relationship with them quickly.
Sachin: What do you think the return on investment (ROI) is for the TAM service?
Bill: While we haven’t done any formal studies yet, I believe that the return on a customer’s investment in a TAM service is a matter of weeks or months. This comes from the operational improvements customers experience, the increased IT efficiency including higher resource utilization of Nutanix and the broader stack, and reduced downtime.
There is also an element of cost avoidance to consider. A TAM’s role is to be proactive and help identify and address issues before they create problems. It is difficult to quantify an exact dollar value in many cases, because it’s hard to assign a cost to problems that never happened. It’s not far-fetched to say that a single avoided disruption of service can easily make up for the cost of a TAM.
Nadim: I know this isn’t directly related to the ROI discussion, but I have personally seen my customers’ confidence in Nutanix grow, which in turn has led to a greater adoption of Nutanix for various different workloads.
Sachin: Bill, Daniel, Nadim -- Thank you for time.
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