When looking to add to our UPS solution portfolio, we knew exactly where to start: Spiceworks, an online community for IT pros. SpiceHeads (a.k.a. Spiceworks users) are an excellent resource for honesty and understanding as to what is really happening in our markets so we went to them for feedback on what’s most important when it comes to their backup power needs.
We worked with Spiceworks to gather 15 participants, with the hopes of gaining valuable feedback about how Eaton can continue to advance its solutions and help end users save time, save money and reduce risk in their environments. Each “SpicePanel” participant received new Eaton product for beta testing in their environment in exchange for their feedback on our solutions. While focused on UPS rail kits, we also got into connectivity, software, and DCIM. The testing lasted for one month and users posted over 30 topics to the group in the process with daily posts on likes/dislikes and potential improvements, as well as weekly summary calls to close out the topics. The group remained open for one year so that IT pros could continue to provide feedback as new comments and concerns came up.
The panel calendar at a glance:
- Week 1: Receive and install UPS, use Eaton’s new UPS selector and provide feedback
- Week 2: Group discussion, software installation and demo
- Week 3: Group discussion about software, battery replacement exercise
- Week 4: Final discussion and survey
Known to be enthusiastic about new technology, SpiceHeads were eager to have their voices heard, sending in step-by-step installation experiences with photos and commentary, videos and ideas.
Throughout the month, we had access to the specific experiences of each person that may typically never be shared with us without the SpicePanel. Not only were SpiceHeads talking to us, they were talking to each other throughout the experience. We heard about everything from unboxing the UPS packaging to the ways the screws fit when installing. Feedback wasn’t always positive, but it was always detailed!
Out of box experience: “Un-boxing the unit was pretty straight forward. Thanks for the handles. Seriously that goes a long way and saves our backs a bit.”
“Liked the straps - made for easy handling. I setup using the legs, straight forward. However, I would bag all of the parts because a screw is lost.”
Product improvements: “My suggestion is to make the cables from the battery an inch longer, even if you decrease the length of the cable to the UPS.”
Panel experience: “Everything's been golden, not a blip - just steady power. To me, the best part so far has been how responsive the Eaton team has been to our questions and suggestions. I have participated in multiple product assessment and evaluations before, the manufacturer isn't always as responsive as this.”
- When it comes to rail kits, speed to install and compatibility are important to IT pros. SpiceHeads revealed that universal mounting kits are key in ensuring power management solutions fit into racks and enclosures of all sizes.
- SpiceHeads reiterated what we already knew: Software is one of the main things they care about. They value simple, affordable and compatible software solutions to support their infrastructures.
- Not all users and consumers are the same. It’s important to support flexible and diverse product sets to ensure we are meeting the needs of IT pros in varying SMB environments.
We would like to thank all of our panelists for their priceless opinions and contributions, and we’re glad we have stayed connected in the Spiceworks community and at industry events. Because of the feedback gathered, we improved our online UPS selector tool and developed the Eaton 5P rackmount compact UPS that launches in late January, featuring a shorter depth, a flexible rail kit, and virtualization capabilities when integrating with our award-winning software.
Product manager, David Windsor, sums it up nicely by saying, “Spiceworks provides a mix of users from a variety of business segments who may or may not be Eaton customers, which allows feedback to be weighed against the spectrums of over-skepticism and overzealousness. Though we usually plan to measure a few specifics, we have continuously found that the most valuable feedback targets issues we had never thought about.”
And, finally, to answer the question if companies really care about your input, the answer is yes. At least we do.