Last Chance to Save Unless It’s Not

September 26, 2012

How many emails do you get each month offering you “Last Chance to Save $____?”  I get lots of them. And, what’s remarkable (he says in  complete jest) is this really isn’t the “last chance to save $___.”

How do I know this? Years of seeing emails from the same companies over and over and over and over.

Years ago, I traveled to Hawaii once or twice a year. Some merchants count on the fact that most people go once. Why else would these same merchants have the faded “Going Out of Business” signs clinging to the exterior walls?

Businesses perpetually “Going Out of Business” aren’t. They are just trying to lure unsuspecting buyers that there are great deals in the store.

These tactics are manipulations. They are intended to create urgency to get you to buy now. Call me crazy, but, I’m not much for being manipulated. I prefer businesses that don’t resort to such manipulations to win my business.  Imagine a manipulation like:

3-Day Old Fish Dinner: Half Price!

Sound intriguing? Let me grab my wife and we’ll head on over. On second thought, never mind.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting, http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

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NFL Brand Harmed by Replacement Refs

September 25, 2012

I missed seeing last night’s Monday Night Football featuring the Green Bay Packers against the Seattle Seahawks.  I fired up Twitter to see how the game ended.  My, oh, my–what a mess occurred.

The Twitterverse was effusive in its disgust about how the Packers had been denied a victory due to a missed call by the replacement referees on the last play of the game. Even the Seattle Seahawk fans knew the call was wrong.  As Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke wrote:

“Three weeks of gross incompetence by unqualified replacement officials crystallized in two moments Monday night that pushed the league’s integrity to the brink.”

It’s tragic that a team suffer a loss for a bad call.  But, what’s even more tragic is when bad calls are so endemic that it is now tarnishing the NFL brand. This wasn’t an isolated incident. It happened all across the league again this past weekend.

Many are saying it doesn’t matter what the official referees are demanding–just pay it.  It’s hard to argue that quibbling over a few dollars is worth damaging your brand.

This officiating debacle is a clear business execution failure.  Pete Goddell, the NFL Commissioner, has it within his power to make this horrific business execution problem go away.  Make it so.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com


Sir Richard Branson on Customer Experience

September 24, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: customer experience

Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group companies, speaking at Dreamforce 2012 talked about how he decides to get into a business. He offered that after 100 or so round-trips on British Airways, he found the staff was dreadfully unhappy and the food and service mediocre at best. He thought he could do it better, that customers would appreciate that, and he could build a nice business that he would enjoy using.

Virgin Airways has taken considerable market share from British Airways. Virgin expanded to Australia and has 35% market share there. Virgin America was founded on the premise that it wouldn’t be hard to surpass the customer experience provided by the U.S.-based airlines. Hard to disagree with his assessment, right United, American, US Airways, Delta?

What is the innovation?

  • Hiring a managing director who is passionate about the value proposition who can attract, hire and inspire others to be part of the leadership team.
  • Finding out what customers don’t like and addressing those issues straight away.
  • Hiring people who care about people and putting them in customer-facing roles.
  • Having fun and making it fun.
  • Treating paying customers like they are the reason for the airline.

Complicated? Not really. But, not trivial to execute either or more companies would be able to achieve this level of success. These “innovations” are helping the Virgin portfolio of companies thrive.

Thought for the week:

Heard via Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE at Dreamforce 2012:

“Everybody has a strategy ‘til they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Dell Announces New Business PCs for Evolving Workforce

September 19, 2012

I attended a preview of these products last week in San Francisco and am finally able to share this news:

ROUND ROCK, Texas, Sept. 19, 2012 –Dell today unveiled new additions to its state-of-the-art portfolio of business-class computers enabling  companies to  give employees devices they want to use while maintaining the IT security and manageability necessary for enterprise-class deployments. The three new devices include the Latitude 10-inch touch-enabled tablet, the Latitude 6430u Ultrabook that brings leading design to the boardroom, and a touch-enabled OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One desktop helping people interact with technology in more intuitive ways.

“Never before has the intersection between great design and data security and manageability been as important as employees increasingly ask for support for gorgeous products while IT needs to maintain corporate controls.  Dell is providing the answer with these new Latitude and OptiPlex products designed to inspire workers and meet the needs of IT,” said Sam Burd, global vice president, Personal Computing Product Group. “Dell’s approach is rooted in our heritage of deep familiarity with the needs of IT professionals combined with our new, world-class set of commercial products that meet user demands.”

Latitude 10 Tablet: Built for Versatility

The Latitude 10 is a 10-inch tablet that takes advantage of the latest advances in touch-enabled applications and allows businesses to confidently bring tablets into their enterprises. The Latitude 10 fits easily into current IT environments by supporting existing Microsoft productivity applications and plugging into existing management consoles. Like all Latitude products, the Latitude 10 is engineered for business productivity by providing easy support and maintenance like a swappable battery and robust security options like Dell Data Protection | Encryption, which encrypts all data from the hard drive to the USB port.

Dell understands some computing environments like healthcare, government and education require integration with specific industry software and additional levels of security will be offered with enhanced security features for industries where the ultimate in data protection is required. To address these needs, this product includes a fingerprint reader and smart card reader for effective two-factor authentication.

Latitude 6430u: Built for the Ultimate in Business Mobility

The Latitude 6430u is a 14-inch Ultrabook that strikes the balance between aesthetic appeal and corporate needs with the combination of security, manageability and durability in a thin, highly-mobile form factor and striking design. Designed to meet the to meet MIL-STD-810G testing, a United States Military test standard where systems are subjected to the harshest conditions, the  14-inch Latitude takes durability to new extremes .  The new design is 33 percent slimmer and 16 percent lighter than Dell’s current 14-inch Latitude notebook, making it a desirable option for mobile workers. Preliminary battery life testing shows all-day productivity with a single battery charge1, an advantage for road warriors and always on-the-go sales executives.

The highly mobile Latitude 6430u builds on the success of the Dell XPS 13, by delivering a great design that also offers the security and manageability businesses need with the industry’s best data protection in Dell Data Protection|Encryption and  the industry’s best manageability with Intel® vPro™ Technology and Dell unique extensions.

 Dell OptiPlex 9010 All-in-One: Built for Collaboration

The sleek OptiPlex 9010 23-inch All-in-One continues to empower productivity while preserving precious desk space. As businesses incorporate touch interfaces into work environments, collaboration and productivity can increase, but some workers have space limitations. The business-class All-in-One offers options for a multipoint touchscreen, fixed or rotating camera, and an articulating stand to optimize the user’s work experience.

 Quotes

“Business class customers are looking for innovative, consumer-like form factors for their business PCs,” said Bob O’Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays, IDC.  “Vendors like Dell that can deliver these kinds of machines, while still maintaining the security and management capabilities and tools that businesses need, will be well-positioned to succeed with IT managers who want to stay on top of the consumerization trends impacting business IT.”

Availability:

The Latitude 10, Latitude 6430u and OptiPlex 9010 AIO will be available for sale with the launch of Windows 8.  More details on global pricing and dates will be announced when available.

 About Dell

Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services that give them the power to do more. For more information, visit www.dell.com.

1 Based on preliminary testing using the Mobile Mark 2007 Productivity battery life benchmark test.  For more information about this benchmark test, visit www.bapco.com.  Test results should be used only to compare one product with another and are not a guarantee you will experience the same battery life.  Battery life may be significantly less than the test results and varies depending on your product’s configuration, software, usage, operating conditions, power management settings and other factors.  Maximum battery life will decrease with time and use. GB means 1 billion bytes and TB equals 1 trillion bytes; significant system memory may be used to support graphics, depending on system memory size and other factor

Full Disclosure:  Dell gifted me the Dell XPS 13 ultrabook computer earlier this year.  I am on Dell’s Customer Advisory Panel.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com


Customization doesn’t bring efficiencies

September 17, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: configurable products and services

Being a “customizer” doesn’t create efficiencies. More often than not, customization brings tremendous inefficiencies in sales, order administration, engineering, manufacturing operations, service, etc.

  • Your team is forever chasing experts to answer and resolve normal, routine configurability questions that arise.
  • You require significant human intervention to accommodate complexity and variety simply because information isn’t available–the business isn’t set up properly.
  • Your team is challenged to pull together quotes for products and services that can actually be delivered.
  • Your team is challenged by the fact that nothing is standard; everything is a special.

Companies must evolve their business processes to cost-effectively meet the challenges product and service complexity bring. If customizers don’t take action to improve efficiencies, they will continue to suffer margin and operational challenges that only mount.

Failure to address these challenges will keep you and your company from thriving.

Thought for the week:

“Don’t confuse enthusiasm with commitment.” – Paul J. Silvia

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Feature Bloat–Where Is Product Management?

September 10, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: product management

This past week, I saw the latest release for a company’s software. I was stunned–but not in a good way. The product has become so bloated with its 800 features that I wonder if they’ve ruined their product and their company.

As I thought about all my clients over the years–ranging from start-ups to Fortune 50–I considered where I would interject this solution. I’m hard pressed to see this as the best solution in departments and organizations I’ve worked with. That’s not good.

One of my colleagues asked if customers had requested these changes. The executives insisted they had. Really?

Product management is a critical (yet, often absent) function that should drive the evolution of products and product lines. Product management carefully considers input from customers, sales, dealers, marketing, engineering and customer service and, then, creates a product road map that addresses their customers evolving needs.

More is not always more. Complexity makes my eyes glaze over. If you want to thrive, don’t make your customers and prospects eyes glaze over.

Thought for the week:

“There exist limitless opportunities in every industry. Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.” – Charles Kettering

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Joy and the customer experience

September 3, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: customer experience

When I arrived at the Caltrain station in Sunnyvale, the one hundred or so of us who exited the train saw a young mother and her 2-year old daughter waiving wildly to greet us. You couldn’t help but smile.

As I walked to the parking garage, I said hello and continued to my car as the train pulled away to its next stop. The waving stopped, the mother said, “We’ve got to go,” as she quickly put her daughter in her stroller. “There’s another train coming!”

They quickly crossed the 2 sets of tracks and within seconds a northbound train arrived. As I climbed the steps, I looked over my shoulder and, sure enough, they were repeating the same process they had when my train arrived.

While I’m sure they don’t realize it, they brought joy to all who cared to take it in. I’m sure the mother thought this was her way of entertaining her daughter but the reality is, they created far more joy than they received.

What joy do you and your company bring the world? Do you think creating joy just might help you and your company thrive?

Thought for the week:

“Most people bypass what is good and refreshing in their lives, and habitually focus on the unpleasant, bad elements.”  – Plutarch

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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