Behind Fusion-io’s Crappy Code Games

an interview with
Trip Hunter & Mat Young Co-Marketing Directors, Fusion-io

Interview with Trip Hunter & Mat Young, Co-Marketing Directors for Fusion-io in Europe about a new promotion called the Crappy Code Games which I will be writing about on FastCompany.com.

When do the games begin?
TH: The Crappy Code Games will launch in the UK, and take place over three events in March and April. The first event is at Revolution, a modern nightclub/bar in Manchester on the 17th of March. The second event is at Revolution in London, on March 31st, and the third event, which doubles as the Grand Finale, will take place in Brighton on April 7th, on the first night of SQL8, which is the largest SQL community event held in the UK, and be hosted by Apple co-founder and Fusion-io Chief Scientist Steve Wozniak.

What is the idea behind the Crappy Code Games?
TH: The Crappy Code Games highlight the problem that most SQL programmers are constantly experiencing in the workplace, and demonstrates the performance and efficiency gains of Fusion-io Memory.  Badly written SQL code can really stink up an enterprise database, resulting in poor performance, increased resource allocation and ultimately system breakdown. But cleaning up crappy code hasn’t always been easy. It can mean hundreds if not thousands of man hours spent rewriting inefficient code to conform to best practices. Until now. Fusion ioMemory is so powerful, that it actually flushes away crappy code.

Where did this idea come from?
TH: Crappy Code is not a term that Fusion-io made up. If you do a Google search on Crappy SQL code, you will see that this is language that the community understands and uses to quantify this problem. We are just using this insight to engage our audience in a more entertaining way. Crappy code is the problem. Fusion is the solution, but if we talk about how great our solution is it is just marketing, and no one will pay attention. By engaging our audience through the problem, we can show people how our solution works, which is much more fun, engaging and effective.

How are you measuring success?
TH: On a number of different levels; PR impressions is certainly one, as is event attendance, which we are hoping will be around 125 SQL coders for each event, and 300 for our final event at SQL8 in Brighton. We will also be conducting pre and post interviews at each event which should gauge how well Fusion is telling their story, and how compelling it is to our audience. We also have a robust social media program, so success will also be judged by the number of followers and level of engagement we can drive through social media efforts.

Why do you think your target will respond to this promo?
TH: Because the Crappy Code Games, despite its name, actually celebrates great coding. In order to win these challenges, you have to be really good at what you do. This is a very competitive community. Every SQL coder in the UK will want to prove to their peers that they are the best. The Crappy Code Games is the perfect platform to do this. Not to mention that there are some really great prizes that you can win, like developer laptops, win-mo phones, X-box 360’s, and more.

How are American tech companies perceived in Europe?
MY: In general American tech companies and their products are very well received over here in both the UK and wider EMEA. From my personal history there is quite a good amount of UK folks that go and work for US tech companies at their HQ in product development and that can further reinforce that bridge.

Why are you starting this promo in the UK?

MY: What I find interesting is that in general the UK and Germany tend to be early adopters of new technology, especially if it makes a radical change to the value the business derives from it. That’s not to say there aren’t innovators in every European country but the others in general terms tend to wait until there are a number of good cases studies, at that point they move quickly to adopt.

Why do you think the Crappy Code Games will cut through in the UK?
MY: In the UK market there a number of major players with large budgets that dominate pretty much all traditional marketing approaches but to my mind with limited real engagement. What we are trying to do is engage in a slightly humorous way, educate and then let the prospects decide (we know how good our products are and believe in them).  Also, the technical heart of Crappy Code Games is based around some very real performance issues.

What does the fact that you are running a Crappy Code promo say about Fusion-io?
TH: It says that Fusion understands the day-to-day challenges and issues facing our customers. It also says that while our solutions are completely serious, we as a company like to have a little bit of fun.

Do you see a risk in this approach?
TH: I’d be foolish if I said no, but if we weren’t taking calculated risks, we just be one more boring,  invisible marketing program. As we see it, risk is proportional to reward. So obviously, we believe that the potential reward is greater than the potential risk.

What are you really selling?
TH: Fusion-io sells a family of NAND flash-based ioMemory technologies that offers an entirely new building block for data center applications. Containing 100 times the density of RAM, ioMemory overcomes the physical and thermal limitations of the medium and provides near limitless amounts of fully scalable memory for accelerating throughput, driving higher performance density and efficiency in applications server platforms.

What problem(s) does your product solve for your target?
TH: Fusion ioMemory reduces latency so markedly that CPU’s can be used more efficiently, enabling our customers to do far more with far less than they could with other storage technology solutions.  In a recent survey of 274 Fusion customers, 95% said they bought us for performance gains, and 75% of them experienced performance improvement of 3-10x over what they had prior to deploying Fusion.

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