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To Be, Rather Than to Seem
December 3, 2007
by Michael Chen, Vice President, Corporate Marketing
Red Hat is headquarted in North Carolina where the state motto is “Esse quam videri.” In Latin it means “To be, rather than to seem.” Loosely translated, it comes down to something like “Walk the walk.”
CIO Insight Magazine’s latest “Vendor Value” study ranks Red Hat as the most-valuable Enterprise Software Vendor for the fourth consecutive year, and best overall IT Vendor for the third time in four years. Ninety-seven percent of our customers said they would choose to continue to do business with us. With that kind of customer loyalty, Red Hat topped a list that included Google, Microsoft, Oracle, HP and Apple. We didn’t just outperform our competitors, we outperformed everyone. Not bad for a company with less than 2,500 employees.
I run the marketing group at Red Hat, and I am proud of our work. But marketing and brand awareness didn’t make us number one, reality did. As we like to say around here, “Truth Happened.” CIOs and other IT decision-makers who participated in the study found true value in the products and services delivered by Red Hat, year after year. Our success in this arena was driven by Red Hat’s uncompromising commitment to the open source vision, and being the best at delivering on the promise of that vision.
The promise of the open source model is that it encourages more innovation, faster among users and developers all over the world. As Michael Tiemann, Red Hat’s vice president of Open Source Affairs has observed, “While innovations occur daily across thousands of software projects and packages, a predictable development and service process maximize both the quality and quantity of innovation from the greatest number of users and developers.”
Red Hat continuously delivers the value of these innovations to our customers through an ecosystem we developed over the years as the open source model (and our Enterprise-ready version of Linux) found wider acceptance: 3,000+ applications, and 100 hardware platforms, available in more than 130 countries. The simplicity and transparency of Red Hat’s subscription model only compounds the value of the open source model. The way we do business has changed the software industry.
The IT industry has always been shaped by market pressure to provide innovative, effective solutions quickly and efficiently. Lately, there is a lot of marketing noise in the competitive enterprise software industry about delivering technologies, solutions and benefits in different formats. But for CIOs, the attribute that wins customer loyalty is the simple ability to deliver on your promises. (Source: Role and Influence of the 21st Century CIO, September 2006 and August 2007) There are still areas where humanity trumps technology.
Customers need vendors and technology that will help them do more with less. They then turn around and use the savings to innovate, shorten the time to market and create competitive advantage. Red Hat’s original promise was to make this happen for our customers, and our open source solutions and subscription business model clearly delivers on this promise.
So, our secret is no secret: Our software does what we say it will do, and as a company we do what we say we will do. Customers like that.
In the eastern Asian culture in which I was raised, maintaining integrity is everything. In that culture, “Integrity” isn’t a marketing term, it’s a key attribute of a successful company (or person). Maintaining integrity in the IT world today, to a large extent, means making a commitment to meeting customers’ expectations on time and on budget, and then doing it. Our customers are the true test for our success. From the CIO Insight study results, we can see that Red Hat continues to deliver value to our customers through meeting ROI expectations, being flexible and responsive to needs, and meeting commitments on time and on budget.
What sets us apart from our large competitors is the fact that we actually are what we seem to be, a company that brings a totally new way to develop, deploy and use software in the new century.