Shark Tank: It's an imperfect world

CIRCA 1980, this mainframe vendor rep pilot fish is assigned to a government customer. Your operating system will go unsupported next year, fish tells systems manager. Have you thought about upgrading? "Of course," says manager - and shows fish the reels of tape containing the new OS. But why aren't you using it? fish asks. "This is the government, remember?" manager says ruefully. "This year they allocated funds to purchase the OS but refused us funds to buy the additional storage we need to use it. Maybe that will come in next year's budget."

PHONE SUPPORT tech to IT pilot fish: "Even if I wanted to help you, I can't because our system is down." Pause. "Uh, what I mean is, the system is down, so I can't help you. I can't even enter a problem record for you if I wanted to."

THIS IT pilot fish sets up a specific time with a user to upgrade her PC, but when he gets there he still has to wade past pictures, souvenirs, calendars, coffee mugs, dust and dirt to swap in the new machine. "When I saw her in the hall a day later, I asked how it was working," fish reports. "In front of co-workers, she yelled at me for not cleaning the now-visible dust and dirt on her desk - cleaning up after her was my responsibility. I laughed and said, 'I only do Windows.' "

EVERY WEEK this production supervisor in Mexico sends a color spreadsheet of material shortages to a purchasing manager pilot fish by fax. Look, we have a WAN, fish tells him. Why not send it by e-mail, or use one of the networked printers so it comes right to me? "The MIS manager won't show us how to do it," supervisor says. "He's too busy analyzing things to find a more efficient way to operate."

MILITARY tech pilot fish remembers a late-1980s project to collect and send daily weather data from the U.S. to Europe for weather modeling. "Only one small issue," sighs fish. "The bandwidth we were provided would take 26 hours to send 24 hours' worth of data."

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Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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