Part 9. The Broom Closet
Everyone's ideal image of a business is a growing, prosperous company with thousands
of happy, productive employees, right? Not so! Theoretically, the ideal business
would have zero employees, just an owner. (This cuts down on Human Resources costs,
taxes, pensions, etc.) The ideal business would not require any time or effort to
be exerted by the owner, either. (This leaves more time for really important things
like family and personal interests. You remember family, don't you?) The ideal business
would simply be *a machine in the broom closet.*
Yes, the perfect business for somebody who just wants to make money would be a reliable
machine, perhaps a computer, that does all the work automatically. The machine never
fails, doesn't get sick like real people do, and never needs a vacation. It just
sits in the broom closet doing whatever it is that machines do when they're not
failing or crashing or requiring constant upgrades. Just plug it in and close the
door!! The checks and the cash just keep rolling in.
While not realistic, this model of a perfect business machine in a broom closet
has some strong similarities to some IBM products. For example, take the case of
LAN Server. One employee reported a situation in which an office was being moved
to another building, and a security guard was required to unlock a series of bolts
and locks on a small broom closet. What was inside? One PC running IBM LAN Server,
plus a large layer of dust. The door to that closet had not been opened in over
*two years*. Now that's reliability!
However, like all ideal solutions, this near-perfect machine has a drawback. How
do you market something that is essentially invisible? A product which does its
job without failing never gets any headlines in the press, and it doesn't require
advertising for lots of new hires in the support department. Remember, the 10 o'clock
news will cover a plane crash, but it will ignore the thousands of planes that landed
safely the same day! In a market-driven environment, such stellar reliablity becomes
a liability instead of an asset. Whoever said "the squeaky wheel always gets
the grease" was right. A competing product with regular needs and upgrades
basically markets itself -- just like an infant "marketing itself" by
crying and howling every two hours.
If you think it takes good marketing to sell something as shoddy and obsolete as
the Windows family of products, try selling something that actually works! You can't
make partnership deals with software utility vendors, because the product doesn't
fail. You can't make partnership deals for repair training, because the product
doesn't fail. You can't make partnership deals for upgrades, because the product
is a solid and adequate performer over the long haul. You might as well try selling
shaving kits to The Invisible Man -- it just isn't going to happen.
Most recent revision: January 17, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.