Trust Starts with Transparency

Lots of people talk about transparency, your boss, your spouse, your congressman, but how many truly live it? It’s easy to find examples of people calling for transparency or claiming to be transparent only to be proven insincere or dishonest. My favorite example may be the time the US government held a meeting on transparency behind closed doors. The point is that, sadly, transparency seems to be in real danger of becoming just a buzzword.

From where I stand that’s unacceptable.

As the general manager of a company that people trust to protect their data I’m acutely aware of the relationship between transparency and trust. As more organizations move their data to the cloud, they have to trust service providers and technology vendors, like Spanning, to do what they say they’re going to do. And the only way they can be sure their trust is well placed is if we’re completely transparent about what’s happening with that data because in the SaaS world transparency is everything.
ThinkstockPhotos-533048767But at a time when so many talk about transparency, but often don’t mean it, how do you know whom to trust? I think the answer lies in the old Russian proverb that U.S. President Reagan made famous: Trust, but verify.

That’s what we expect our customers to do. And that’s why we live transparently taking deliberate and specific steps to be as open as possible with employees, partners, and customers. We believe that by sharing all the pertinent details about any situation involving our company, including the status of backups, issues that may arise, and what’s being done to resolve them, we improve communication, foster collaboration, increase confidence, and engender trust.

Any company that’s entrusted with critical business data owes its customers a level of openness, honesty, and accountability. There are three major areas companies should consider when looking for a fully transparent partner to protect their data:

  • Visibility into backup status through proactive alerts and actionable reporting: Customers should be shown whether the vendor has successfully backed up their complete data set down to the individual data item during the previous backup cycle. Sounds pretty basic, right? But amazingly, not all backup vendors do that. After all, keeping track of millions of objects is hard. And putting the backup status data into a form that makes it actionable information is even harder. But if it isn’t done, how can that vendor be sure that they can accurately restore the data in the event of a loss?
  • SLA performance reporting: This is important because it clearly demonstrates how the vendor is performing against SLAs, not just for their customers to see, but for the world. This provides a mechanism to enforce commitment to uptime. If the vendor fails, everyone, including competitors, is going to know it.
  • Open and timely communications: SaaS applications are organic creatures. They take care and feeding, are made up of many moving parts, and sometimes, get sick. When that happens vendors need to communicate proactively with their customers about what’s happened, why, the impact on them, and what is being done to rectify the problem and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Transparency needs to be more than a buzzword. At Spanning by EMC, it is an ingrained behavior that we live every day and we use the approach listed above. That approach has resulted in a level of customer loyalty beyond anything I have seen in my thirty years of business. It is so fundamental to our being that we don’t even feel it is necessary to include it in our core values!

Rather, it permeates everything we do and it is the foundation upon which we build our values and culture. But, don’t take my word for it. Hear from happy customers like AMAG Pharmaceuticals and Kendra Scott to see why they selected Spanning and how they feel about our approach to transparency.

About the Author: Jeff Erramousepe