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NetApp: View the public sector as a series of sub-verticals

A one-size-fits-all approach is not going to work effectively in the public sector, according to research and experience gained by the vendor

Taking a focused approach to customers will yield more results for channel players that operate in the public sector.

The phrase “public sector” encompasses a large number of different organisations that have different needs and priorities, and the best approach is to break it down into sub-verticals, according to Adrian Cooper, field CTO – UK public sector at NetApp.

Like many IT firms, the data and cloud player targets the public sector, but has been fine-tuning its approach to the market over the last couple of years.

“Globally, NetApp sees the public sector as an important vertical market for us,” said Cooper. “About two years ago, we made more investment locally in the UK, in the public sector, partly because what we were seeing was the market evolving slightly and we felt there was a good fit in terms of what the customers we’re looking to achieve and some of the sorts of pressures and opportunities they were looking at and the sort of evolving portfolio within NetApp.

“I think it’s important to register the fact that I think we also recognised and have evolved our thinking over that period of time to see the public sector not as one vertical per se, but as a number of different sub-verticals. The dynamics inside of local government are perhaps slightly different from those in central government, healthcare, policing, defence, etc.”

Taking that approach appealed to customers and has also benefited partners that operate across this customer base, said Cooper.

“We felt customers were going to be much more responsive to us showing empathy towards their sector, an understanding of other customers and how they were deploying technology, how they were solving challenges and issues within their business,” he said.

“What we’ve recognised is that perhaps there are partners that are similarly focused on those verticals. So, what it allows us to do is to build relationships with partners of all forms and perhaps also ISVs that are focused on those particular areas.”

NetApp has charted rising interest in data solutions from public sector customers as they start to look for more support in unlocking the value from their data. The firm recently carried out a survey, which underlined the fact that users were looking for ways to use insights to enhance their business.

“We were trying to understand how mature our customers were in having the ambition to use data in in that way,” said Cooper.

There was also a sense that channel partners that had specialists who could support customers in that ambition would also be best placed to succeed in the public sector.

For those that had made the effort, the market was growing and the ongoing move to unlock data meant there was momentum in the market, said Cooper.

“We’ve seen strong growth in our public sector business this year, as we did last, and I think we see that continuing and we will be putting additional investment in to support the market and the market demand that we see in the UK,” he added.

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