Technical Account Manager
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 them too. But as I learned quickly, a TAM at VMware is different, and the name does not do the job justice. “Customer Enablement and Satisfaction Consultant” would be a more accurate description.
VMware’s main business is making amazing software. Next to that, VMware has a Professional Services Organization (PSO), which employs architects and consultants to help customers get the most out of their products. They help design, implement and optimize Software-Defined Data Centers or SDDC infrastructures. TAMs are a vital part of the VMware PSO post-sales services that customers acquire to ensure that they fully utilize their SDDC infrastructures, long after the sale is over.
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. The main objective of a VMware TAM is to make sure that the customer is happy and satisfied with the products they purchased. Now that may be too vague of a statement. But the primary role of a TAM is to develop a close working relationship with the customer. To develop a clear understanding of the customer’s business needs from a People, Process, and Technology point-of-view. And work with the customer to get the most out of their IT infrastructure to better meet their business priorities. To do so, TAMs have a collection of services they can deliver to add more value to the customer’s experience with VMware and its products. Basically, you can divide the services a TAM delivers into in three categories: business focused, technology focused, and people focused.
In the area of business focus, we aim to help the customer reach their business goals. TAMs can help align the customer’s business requirements and priorities to services. We create a quarterly service’s strategic roadmap. Through this roadmap, goals and objectives are reached in a controlled and timely fashion. By placing actions into a roadmap, optimization of the current platform and services significantly improve. As a result, customers experience greater flexibility and agility in their IT services, allowing their organization to easily adapt to change.
Lastly, and my favorite, is the application of industry benchmarks. How do you compare to the peers in your industry? The VMware TAM program is a worldwide service organization. We gather metrics from all over the world and in every industry. This is a valuable service to our customers. No other organization has the depth of data that can objectively tell them how they are performing, compared to other organizations in the same industry, in terms of benchmarks.
What are the Right Benchmarks?
Benchmark conditions vary from customer to customer. The VMware TAM can provide the right direction, by asking the right questions, to guide you through this process. Here are a few examples.
- What applications are the majority of businesses in your industry using in their datacenters?
- How many VM’s do your peers have per admin?
- What business critical applications do you have to virtualize?
Our TAMs will guide you through this process, giving you the intelligence you require. You will be shown how to compare your business to other organizations and how to determine which areas you need to shift your focus because they require greater attention. Through this process, your business will be better prepared for new opportunities, challenges, and changes.
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 we do focus on the technical side as well. Your VMware TAM can get you access to product specialists, enlist you in beta tests, and help solve problems by being the intermediary between VMware’s Global Support Services and your team. They can initiate health checks on your virtual infrastructure and point out potential infrastructure issues. A TAM can also help you by sharing VMware’s best practices or validated designs to improve your architecture and your new SDDC environment. One of my favorite parts of technical services is sharing 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 modernized datacenter. These product roadmaps help you to plan for the future.
Also, VMware’s TAMs are seasoned IT experts. Many of them have 20 years or more of IT experience. When you buy a TAM service, you benefit from the knowledge, expertise and experience the TAM has gained over the years by solving IT architecture dilemmas of all kinds and at all levels. Even ones that are not VMware-related.
Businesses are about people doing their jobs successfully and effectively. But as people perform their jobs day in and day out, it’s important that they are equipped with the latest information and training to perform their jobs at the highest level. TAMs can also assist here as well. We can develop a knowledge assessment of a customer’s organization. From the assessment, we can create an education plan for the customer’s IT staff, enabling them to be better prepared to handle any problem and to respond faster when one arises.
Beyond the education plan, TAMs can help your IT staff access local VMware programs and events. These range from VMware certification training to industry roundtables, roadshows, and events. VMware has also created a series of online webinars exclusively for TAM customers on new products, technical deep dives, and IT architecture on a variety of topics and solutions.
Exclusive Events for TAM Customers at VMworld
VMworld is VMware’s premiere customer event. It’s held every year, both in the US and in Europe. It is 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 at VMworld.
First of all, there is TAM Customer Day, which is held the day before VMworld starts. On TAM Day you attend exclusive product and roadmap sessions. At these meetings, you will have an opportunity to meet with VMware product managers and experts face-to-face to talk about your use cases and challenges.
Also, throughout VMworld, TAM customers have access to a special area within the larger event. TAM Customer Central (TCC) offers exclusive sessions, offered only to TAM customers. These sessions are much smaller than the general breakout sessions, providing greater opportunity to ask questions and get personal advice from VMware subject matter experts. Both TAM Day and TCC are organized and manned by VMware Technical Account Managers.
So, there it is. You can imagine that it’s not easy to answer the question “what do you do as a VMware TAM?”. The answer depends on what our customers ask of us. It may depend on the maturity of the customer’s organization. As well as, what do they want to achieve based on their short and long-term goals. And finally, it comes down to what level of involvement and collaboration they require from the VMware TAM. A standard TAM engagement is for at least one year, with weekly contact.
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 its own way and it is my job to help them get the most out of what they have and get them where they want to go. A TAM is there for you.
Alex Muetstege works as a Technical Account Manager for VMware. In the past he worked pre-sales and technical consultancy for several systems integrators. He has been involved in virtualization, especially with VMware, since the early days. Alex is a certified VMware VCP, VSP and VTSP. He is a five-time VMware vExpert (2011-2017) and a one-time Cisco Champion (2015). Alex also blogs at www.VMGuru.com