Be It So Resolved

FEW WILL EVER CLAIM that the year 2000 was boring. What began with the overblown threat of global IT destruction in the mandibles of the Y2K bug ended with the actual annihilation of countless tech companies -- particularly those of the dotcom variety.

So perhaps it's time for a little something to make the next 12 months a bit more enjoyable, at least for the scores of beleaguered IT executives who'd like to collapse on their couches, suck down some Alka-Seltzer and finally watch that backlog of The Drew Carey Show episodes they've got stored on the TiVo.

If that sounds good to you, read our list of tech-vendor resolutions for 2001. Then pass them along to your favorite sales rep.

Resolution No. 1:
We will put an end to hyphenated marketing.

E-commerce, m-business, w-commerce, s-business -- pick a letter of the alphabet, add a hyphen and tack it on to the word business or commerce. Whaddaya got? Instant marketing slogan! Does it mean anything? Of course not. But we've got to differentiate ourselves somehow, and our product sure doesn't do the trick. Which leads us to....

Resolution No. 2:
We will spend more time developing our products than our brand.

In the late 1800s, Thomas Barratt of Pears' soap reportedly said, "Any fool can make soap, but it takes a clever man to sell it." That's good advice if you're selling socks, shaving cream or soda -- but it doesn't apply to enterprise technology. The brandaholics forget that successful companies like Cisco Systems, eBay and Microsoft first made products that people wanted; the brand recognition was the prize at the bottom of the cereal box.

Resolution No. 3:
We will develop products that run best on your platform -- not on an overhead projector.

Credit the above resolution to Tama Olver, the CIO and vice president of worldwide information systems for Quantum Corp. She makes a good point: While the pundits talk about crossing the chasm and bridging the digital divide, there's another rift out there: the gap between marketing messages and deliverables. How many times have you been drawn to a product based on advertised claims (Whiter Whites! Brighter Brights! Easy integration with legacy systems!), only to find that even simple questions bring answers like, "Um, we're still working on that feature"? Then maybe someone should have told the sales force.

Resolution No. 4:
We resolve to practice what we preach.

If we say that e-commerce is the best way for your company to make money, we'll prove it by earning some ourselves instead of just chewing through venture capital like it was a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. If we claim that security is a core piece of our software strategy, we won't let hackers drive a truck through our electronic back door so that they can fill it with our source code. It just makes sense.

Are any companies going to take these resolutions to heart? To be honest, a few do already. If there's any justice in the world, they'll be the ones left standing next year. And then we won't have to do this all over again.

This story, "Be It So Resolved" was originally published by CIO.


Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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