User pain may be eased by EMC realignment

Users frustrated by EMC Corp.'s somewhat disjointed sales and service process may get relief in a new project aimed at streamlining more than a score of businesses the storage giant has acquired in recent years.

EMC said during its earnings conference call last week that it was going to take a breather from its buying spree -- after 21 acquisitions in three years -- to better integrate acquired companies and streamline its business processes.

One user said he hoped the reorganization would help prevent situations like the one that has left him with 15TB of storage sitting on the floor of his data center for six weeks, waiting for someone from EMC to come install it. "I've dropped US$100,000 on SAN storage, and it's just sitting around," said the user, who asked not to be named. The user also wondered to what degree staff from the acquired companies would be allowed into the executive team to help make strategic decisions.

John Hegner, vice president of technology services at Liberty Medical Supply Inc. in Port Saint Lucie, Fla., said the EMC purchasing process is currently rather cumbersome, involving multiple people who add no value and featuring extensive design documentation requirements that are usually unnecessary and annoying. "Any direction toward streamlining and reducing overhead would be a good idea," he said.

Because EMC's first goal in acquiring a new company is "don't break anything," EMC tends to be conservative when integrating business processes such as billing operations, according to spokesman Greg Eden. The result, however, is that sometimes users need to submit multiple purchase orders to buy products from the different groups, he said. Eden would not specify how many different billing programs and other processes the company was using.

Eden admitted EMC's users are asking the company to simplify its approach in serving them. The company is beginning to implement an IT project it calls Synergy across the all divisions to help retool customer-service-oriented business processes, such as sales transactions and service agreements, Eden said.