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Archive for July, 2006

Soft Advice?!

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on July 27, 2006

Three Steps to a New, Improved Microsoft!
Parting advice for Bill Gates.
Stephen Manes

From the September 2006 issue of PC World magazinePosted Wednesday, July 26, 2006
On June 15, in case you didn’t notice, Microsoft announced that Bill Gates will “transition out of a day-to-day role in the company” in 2008, though he’ll remain as chairman. Bill, no one can complain about your new focus on philanthropy, but over the next two years, how about showing your customers a little love?

It’ll be easy! Just insist that Microsoft adopt this mantra: “Stop Making Crap.” Here’s a simple three-step process:

1. Quit kidding yourself. Do some soul-searching and publicly disown the longstanding public-relations fantasy that Microsoft has something to do with “innovation.” Your business has always been about taking others’ ideas and selling them with a Microsoft badge. Period. After CP/M came DOS; after Mac came Windows; after Palm came Pocket PC; after Netscape came IE. And those are just the most obvious examples.

2. Insist on quality and security. Microsoft ads say “Your potential. Our passion,” but the real motto should be “Do the Minimum.” Whenever I pick up a Microsoft product, I expect stupid or dysfunctional design. You rarely disappoint me.

Quality? In just the last few weeks, I’ve encountered a show-stopping defect in ActiveSync, Windows Mobile dialog boxes that are unreadable because nobody redesigned them for the aspect ratio of the Motorola Q phone’s screen, and an entire platform–Ultra-Mobile PC–that’s one of the worst computing experiences ever, right down to a Tablet PC tutorial no one bothered to update for the new devices. Windows Media-based audio players continually fail to challenge Apple’s iPod because Microsoft’s software sucks.

Security? A continuing bad joke, right down to the Windows Genuine Advantage antipiracy program that Windows Update dubs a “critical security update.” It’s critical only to the company’s profit margins, by ensuring that users are running a legit version of Windows–except, as sometimes happens, when it’s wrong.

Oh, and quit bragging about how many testers you have. It’s tiresome and irrelevant when most of them appear to be taking a permanent lunch break. Embrace the idea that quality and security have to be built in, not tested in.

3. Shake up the talent. Nobody in a position of authority at Microsoft ever seems to get fired. Many should be. How many times can a product jettison features and miss deadlines before its handlers get the boot? How many security flaws can pop up before their creators walk the plank?

And if you want to innovate, find innovators. CEO Steve Ballmer is a longtime apologist for whatever Microsoft is doing at the moment. The résumé of new Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie includes the disappointing Windows CE operating system, the voice-recognition-now-and-then-enabled AutoPC, and Web TV, plus the laughable Trustworthy Computing Initiative. New Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie is a smart guy and by all accounts a brilliant programmer, but his crowning achievement to date is Lotus Notes, a product whose user interface is despised by the folks I know who have been forced to use it. Is all the hot blood working on Xbox?

Oh, and after the three-step process, here’s step 4: Turn “Stop Making Crap” into “Start Making Wonders.” But software has to run, not crash, before it can fly.

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A memorable day in my career

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on July 20, 2006

Till 4.30 pm on Tuesday 18 July 2006, it was just another day in my life and then, in our office there was a short meeting called by our top management who broke the news that our Board had accepted a proposal to admit Bank Muscat International as a shareholder of our Company with 40% stake.

So the day which started normal grew into a great and memorable one by evening.

The news means we are on way to take a leadership position in the market place with much more ammunition to compete for increased success.

Pleased post the news as it appeared in Oman Observer (http://omanobserver.com) below.

Business news

BankMuscat Intl plans to take 40pc stake in National Finance
By A E James
MUSCAT — The board of National Finance Company has accepted a proposal from BankMuscat International (BMI) to acquire a strategic 40 per cent stake in the company. As per the understanding, National Finance will issue 4.83 million additional shares at a price of RO 1.850 per share to the Bahrain-based BMI through a private placement route. “The board has approved the proposal in view of BankMuscat International’s standing in the region. It will help the company to generate additional business,” said Robert Pancras, General Manager of National Finance.

“The proceeds of the issue will be used for expanding our business,” he added. Pancras said with the issue of additional shares, the paid up capital of the company would go up to RO 12 million from RO 7.2 million now. The additional capital will also help the company to comply with the stipulation of the central bank to raise paid up capital to RO 10 million within three years. “This will help us to raise the paid up capital much before the three year period,” he added.

But Pancras said that the proposal is subject to the approval from regulating authorities and shareholders of his company. If everything goes well, BMI’s representation in NFC’s board will be proportional to its shareholding in NFC. On the financial performance, he said the company has a strong relation with local customers, especially in automobile and small and medium enterprise (SME) segments. BMI, whose 49 per cent stake is held by Muscat-based BankMuscat, will invest RO 8.94 million to become a strategic stakeholder of National Finance. Shares allotted to BMI will be locked in for a period of three years.

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Art of driving competition crazy

Posted by Sathyamurthy www.sathyamurthy.com on July 4, 2006

The Art of Driving Your Competition CrazyBy Guy Kawasaki

“The purpose of competition is not to beat someone down, but to bring out the best in every player.” —Walter Wheeler

One of the signs of a boom — or at least a boomlet — is that companies start wanting to drive their competition crazy. This occurs when “survival” is no longer an issue and optimization or maximization can become a corporate goal. However, the desire to do things to the competition can lead a company astray — or drive it to even greater heights.

Companies go astray when defeating the competition becomes more important than taking care of customers. When companies become obsessed with the pursuit of excellence, by contrast, they often reach new levels of greatness. Here’s how to avoid the former and achieve the latter.
Know thyself. Before you can drive your competition crazy, you have to understand what your company stands for. Otherwise, you’ll only succeed in driving yourself crazy. For example, Apple stands for cool technology. It will never represent a CIO’s safe bet, an “enterprise software company,” or service and support. If it decided it wanted to drive Microsoft crazy by sucking up to CIOs, it would drive itself crazy — that is, if it didn’t perish trying.

Know thy customer. The second step is to truly understand what your customer wants from you — and, for that matter, what she doesn’t want from you. One thing that your customer seldom wants to do is to help you drive your competition crazy. That’s in your head, not your customer’s. One more thing: A good company listens to what a customer says she wants. A great company anticipates what a customer needs — even before she knows she wants it.

Know thy enemy. The third step is to truly understand your competition. You cannot drive your competition crazy unless you understand their strengths and weaknesses. You should become your competition’s customer by buying their products and services. I never truly understood what it was like to be a customer of Microsoft until I bought a Sony Vaio and used Windows. Sure, I had read many comparisons and competitive analyses, but they were nothing compared with hands-on usage.

Focus on the customer. Here’s what most people find surprising: The best way to drive your competition crazy is not to do anything to it. Rather, the best way is for you to succeed, because your success, more than any action, will drive your competition crazy. And the way you become successful is not by figuring out what you can do to the competition but for the customer. You succeed at doing things for the customer by using the knowledge that you’ve gained in the first three steps: understanding what you do, what your customer wants and needs, and what your competition doesn’t do. At the intersection of these three factors lies the holy grail of driving your competition crazy. For most companies, the key to driving the competition crazy is out-innovating, out-servicing, or outpricing them.

Turn customers into evangelists. There are few things that drive a competitor more crazy than an unpaid thunder-lizard group of customers who become evangelists for a company. I covered this topic in detail in my blog posting “The Art of Evangelism,” but the gist is this: Create a great product or service, put it out there (“let a hundred flowers blossom”), see who falls in love with it, open up your arms to them (they will come running to you), and then take care of them. It’s that simple.

Make good by doing good. Doing good has its own, very sufficient rewards, but sometimes you can make good and do good at the same time. For example, if you own a chain of hardware stores, you can help rebuild a community after a natural disaster. You’re bound to get a lot of publicity and create bonds with the community — this will drive your competition crazy. And you’ll be doing something good!

Turn the competition into allies. One way to get rid of your competition is to drive them out of business. I suppose this might be attractive to you, but a better way is to turn your competition into allies. My favorite author of children’s books is Tomie dePaola. My favorite dePaola book is The Knight and the Dragon. This is the story of a knight and a dragon who train to slay each other. They are smashingly unsuccessful at doing battle and eventually decide to go into business together. Using the dragon’s firebreathing ability and the knight’s salesmanship, they create the K & D Bar-B-Q. For example, if a Home Depot opens up next to your hardware store, let it sell the gas barbecues, and you refill people’s propane tanks.

Play with their minds. If you’re doing all this positive, good stuff, then it’s okay to have some fun with your competition — that is, to intentionally play with their minds. Here are some examples to inspire you:

During the Korean War, the U.S. Army Office of Strategic Services left a supply of condoms for the Communist Chinese to find. The condoms were specially manufactured in an extra-large size. The label on the boxes, however, said, “Made in the USA, Size Medium.”
Hannibal once had his soldiers tie bundles of brush to the horns of cattle. At night, his soldiers lit the brushwood on fire, and Hannibal’s Roman enemies thought that thousands of soldiers were marching toward them.

A pizza company that was entering the Denver market for the first time ran a promotion offering two pizzas for the price of one if customers brought in the torn-out yellow pages ad of its competition.

A national hardware store chain opened up right next to a longtime community hardware store. After a period of depression and panic, the store owner came up with a very clever ploy. He put up a sign on the front of his store that said, “Main Entrance.”

© 2006 Nightingale-Conant Corporation

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