Brett Albertson is the newest member of our Active IQ team. Active IQ is NetApp’s suite of cloud services that help customers derive actionable insights on how to avoid disruptions and optimize their modern data center. In his role as a technical marketing engineer (TME), Brett helps to communicate the value of Active IQ so that we can increase the amount of usage we have. The more people we have using Active IQ, the more data we’re collecting, and ultimately, the more value we can provide.
I sat down with Brett recently and asked him some questions about the value of Active IQ, his role on our team, and what’s on the horizon for Active IQ.
What is your role on the Active IQ team?
I’m a technical marketing engineer (TME) working on Active IQ. My main responsibility is around field enablement. And by field, I mean end users of all the Active IQ products and tools. Previously, I was a TME for our sizing and performance tools, and I was also the product manager for the System Performance Modeler.
Enablement is a broad term. The core aspects of enablement include producing technical documentation, videos, training courses and content, as well as webinars and other online training forums like new-hire training. In particular, my role includes interfacing with not just sales teams but also partners. More than 80% of NetApp’s sales are through the channel, so it’s important that we keep those teams aligned to the developments in our portfolio and the needs of our customers.
I have a unique perspective because I’ve been at NetApp for almost nine years now, but before that, I worked for nearly 15 years at a NetApp partner. We were a classic reseller, and that’s where I got to learn all about NetApp. I did everything from pre-sales and post-sales to consulting and support, including almost every technical role at the company. That experience gives me good insights into what’s important to partners and how difficult communicating with partners can be. I have a good perspective about what it takes to really pierce that veil when, as a partner, you get thousands of emails a month from vendors clamoring for your attention.
What do you see as the main value of Active IQ for customers, partners, and our sales teams?
Active IQ provides customers with deep, actionable insights about their data and their environment. They get advice about problems and risks within their system, including capacity alerts and upgrade advisors. They get a ton of direct value because they are using our telemetry data that their systems are sending home. We do analytics on it and present analytics back to them with all of the knowledge we have by aggregating information from across our installed base. All of these analytics are completely free of charge, which is a major benefit for customers.
If you’re a NetApp partner, Active IQ not only makes sales easier, but it also increases stickiness. You get to deliver all of those free features to your customers, including many that our competitors don’t have. That helps keep your customers happy, and makes your next sale easier. This is also true for our own sales teams. Active IQ is well regarded in the market as one of the key differentiators for NetApp.
Part of my role on the Active IQ team is to communicate the value of Active IQ so that we can increase the amount of usage we have. The more people we have using Active IQ, the more data we’re collecting, and ultimately, the more value we can provide.
What’s one of the most surprising things you’ve heard regarding Active IQ out in the field?
Most people think that outages are caused by technology, and in my experience, that is usually not the case. People and process cause the most problems in technical systems, and we see that time and time again. I’ll look at an environment that had a file system or aggregate fill up, and the Active IQ dashboard was screaming at them to let them know that they were having a problem—oftentimes a completely preventable problem—but no one was looking. If I can help more people use Active IQ to prevent these major outages from happening, I’ll consider my job a success.
What are you most excited about in your new role?
The past few years, I’ve been working on tools for NetApp partners, most of which have a pool of about 4,000 active users. That’s a pretty small pool when you think about our customer base, which is in the tens of thousands. I’m pretty excited to have a broader reach as part of the Active IQ team. Being able to interact with a more diverse range of users, not just partners and NetApp-badged people but actual customers, is very exciting.
What do you do in your spare time?
My family is my biggest passion. I have two adult sons and two granddaughters, and I love spending as much time with them as I can. We watch them every Saturday night so that my son and daughter-in-law can have a date night, and then in the morning I get up and make them pancakes, and we play all day.
My wife and I also love to travel. I’ve been to all 50 states and two territories. I’ve been to 55 of the 80 national parks in the United States and something like 90 UNESCO world heritage sites. I think we’re up to 34 countries visited.