The Dropbox Box Expands

November 5, 2014


I’m at Dell World 2014 this week in Austin, Texas. As I was walking the exhibition floor, Daniel Bernard from Dropbox asked if I was familiar with Dropbox for Business. Reflexively, I answered “yes.”

In the fog of the all the visual and auditory input of the show, I missed the context. I thought he was asking about me “using Dropbox for business,” not a product named “Dropbox for Business.” I soon realized he meant something different and acknowledged I wasn’t familiar with “Dropbox for Business.”

Why? Dropbox has been known as being more for consumer and small business use due to it’s ease of use. It has not been known for being “enterprise-ready.” Here’s the box I put Box and Dropbox in:

  • Box for enterprise and small business
  • Dropbox for consumer and very small business

I’m sure Box would enjoy the positioning I’ve ascribed to their solutions. Yet, Daniel was really wanting to speak to me about a more robust set of features and functions suitable for small business and the enterprise. He went on to show me features and functions that convinced me they’ve grown, they’ve evolved, and they want to play at a different level than they were able to 2 or 3 years ago. This highlights a point I made previously in a post called  Are You Boxed In? In that blog post, I wrote:

When you or your company becomes known for something, the marketplace draws lines around what you represent to the world effectively boxing you in. Over time, you may grow the size of your box many times as you add new products and services. However, be aware — it is harder for the marketplace to grasp that your box has really grown and evolved, particularly if you have name recognition and are known for being in a particular space or area. Getting the marketplace to understand your company’s new box versus the original box is a pretty steep hill to climb.

Dell has a similar challenge as it moves to be an end-to-end solution provider. Dell World is one of the actions Dell is taking to show CIOs how much its box has grown. I’m happy to report, Dell is doing a terrific job in the transformation.

If you are boxed in, it takes a lot of energy of help those who know you or your company to see you as something different. I’m glad I spent a few minutes learning how Dropbox is evolving.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2014 Dave Gardner


Are You Boxed In?

September 4, 2013

Boxed In

When you or your company becomes known for something, the marketplace draws lines around what you represent to the world effectively boxing you in. Over time, you may grow the size of your box many times as you add new products and services. However, be aware — it is harder for the marketplace to grasp that your box has really grown and evolved, particularly if you have name recognition and are known for being in a particular space or area. Getting the marketplace to understand your company’s new box versus the original box is a pretty steep hill to climb.

For example, one of the things that drives me batty is analysts lamenting the decline in PC and laptop sales at Dell. They suggest that, based on the current metric of declining PC and laptop sales, the future is all doom and gloom for Dell. But, what really confounds me is the analysts failing to recognize that their claims of doom and gloom for Dell could only be true only if all Dell offered the marketplace is PCs and laptops. Their offerings have grown by an order of magnitude. And, of course, these analysts very words negatively impact the stock price and the perception of Dell being able to be relevant to its customers and make money in the future.

Analysts who track Dell seem to be trying to keep Dell in a box — the box of “all they do is manufacturer PCs and laptops.” It is not accurate and does not come close to properly characterizing how Dell has evolved. PCs and laptops represent but one dimension for Dell. The conclusion ignores their growing strengths in enterprise software, services, health care, government, education, small and medium businesses and large enterprises. Dell has grown its box yet the analysts continue to focus on a single metric which is what Dell represented a decade ago.

YouSendIt recently changed it’s name to HighTail as it grows its capability and offerings. The name change is more than a mere name change — it is a recognition that HighTail is offering far more in functionality and capability than YouSendIt did. While it is likely that it is costing a small fortune to make this name change, it is crystal clear that more than the name is different. That just may be of great interest to existing customers and thereby keep them coming back for more. They did not try to grow the box — they actually jumped into a new box that enables them to tell a new and a fresh story.

In my consulting practice, I have always eschewed “the flavor of the month or year.” Why? If I had associated myself with total quality management (TQM) or business process reengineering, I would be considered irrelevant to prospects and clients who are no longer drawn to those programs and/or approaches. I did not want to be boxed in by concepts that would ultimately loose market traction and then be forced to reeducate my marketplace about what I am doing today.

What box are you sitting in? Is it serving your present needs or is it making you appear old and dated? Does the box allow you to continue expanding your future? Or, are you going to have to do what Dell is now having to do — reinventing yourself under the same name? Perhaps it Is time to consider a name change much as what YouSendIt is presently going through? In other words – what is going to best communicate that your box is continuously expanding?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2013 Dave Gardner
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Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 24MAY10

May 24, 2010

“Thank God It’s Monday” is to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: branding

Take your customers to a place that they could never achieve or realize without you and they will never forget you.

Disney, FedEx, Ritz Carlton, Singapore Airlines, Cisco Systems all create experiences for customers that make them come back again and again wanting more.

What adjustments do you need to ensure your company thrives like these great companies?

Thought for the week:

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” Charles Dickens


Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2010 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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Best practices for the a la carte customer

April 18, 2010

If your company offers configurable products or services, what are the best practices for connecting with your customers?  Your company would:

  • Modularize your offerings in such a way that customer requirements can be derived from standardized modules (or components or capabilities) allowing for acquisition “a la carte.” This, of course, requires that there has been a “rationalization” effort to identify those essential options or value components that customers will require.
  • Maintain a listing—usually within a configurator—of standardized modules as well as any rules for combining the modules into fully-configured customer orders.
  • Provide a means to seamlessly share the same understanding about customer options across the enterprise (with customers, distributors, sales, order administration, and customer service).
  • Extend the capability to create personalized orders and explore quotation alternatives with the customers, distributors and channel partners (extended enterprise) via tools offered and supported for that purpose. This allows customers to conduct a “what if” analysis looking at different capability and pricing options.  [Note: Three things a customer really cares about are (1) what are my options, (2) how much is this set of options going to cost, and, (3) for manufacturers of products, how long will it take to produce it? Truly effective systems need to address all of these issues.]
  • View the likelihood that any two orders would be identical as a coincidence and set up the business accordingly, e.g., complete modularity—no bundles.
  • For product manufacturers, produce orders only after receipt of an order—no stocking of any finished products.

How does the business behave differently?

  • For product and service providers:
    • Orders are driven directly to Order Administration or Customer Service
    • Development, Product Management and/or Marketing is involved only when a new module is needed.
    • Product management makes determinations about “saleable” option combinations.
    • No people-dependency for expert knowledge about allowable option combinations.
  • For product manufacturers:
    • Engineering is not involved in the creation of a bill of material to support individual order configurations.
    • Engineering defines “allowable” product configurations based on technical feasibility, not marketing or sales policy. This is important. You do not want to change the logic behind allowable or permissible configurations every time the marketing or sales philosophy changes. To do otherwise creates constant rework and churn.
    • Engineering designs the product with product modularity in mind.

The attributes above demonstrate why offering configurable products and services must be approached as an enterprise-wide business strategy, not merely a departmental hurdle.  Efficiencies must flow across the entire enterprise. The mission is providing unique products and services tailored to the customer’s needs with the same or greater efficiency than is presently realizable.

The modularization of the offerings must not occur in a silo separate from the rest of the organization or the impact will be sacrificing speed and efficiencies to meet each customer’s requirements.  And, the inefficiencies, of course, undermine profits.

Customers at the high-end of the marketplace want products that are highly-personalized, unique and offer superior value. For example, there is a product configurator for the Bentley GTC Speed, a very high-end automobile is an excellent example of how a company has approached giving customers a lot of choice in how they want their $250,000 automobile configured.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2010 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 01MAR10

March 2, 2010

This week’s focus: customer choice

Back in 1961, Hertz ran a very powerful and memorable ad campaign built around a compelling theme: “Let Hertz put you in the driver’s seat.”

Not only did this ad campaign create the image of a customer ending up in one of Hertz’s rental cars, it suggested that Hertz puts the customer in control of each transaction and the relationship. What could be better than a customer driving the relationship? This simple ad set the stage for Hertz being the world’s largest car rental company.

How is your company putting customers in the driver’s seat enabling your company to thrive?

Thought for the week:

“It’s not your customer’s job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have the chance to forget you.” Patricia Fripp

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

Dave Gardner’s “Thank God It’s Monday” 15FEB10

February 15, 2010

Thank God It’s Monday is to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: marketing

A brand is a representation of quality and value, not a company name or slogan. A brand is inextricably linked to customer expectations.  It takes a long time to establish a brand and sustained effort to maintain it.

For many years, Toyota represented the best of the best in the automotive industry. No more.

If Toyota sought to save face, it has failed at the expense of its brand. And, as additional bad news is revealed, it further erodes its brand flinging the doors wide open to competitors that previously may have been closed.

In recent months, we have seen two dominant brands undermine their value by their own actions and responses: Toyota and Tiger Woods. Is there a lesson here?

Companies and the brands that thrive get ahead of the story and serve as a model for all by virtue of what they do in good times and bad.

Thought for the week:

“People and organizations (and teams and committees and task forces and colonies of ameoba) do not Thrive when they focus on the present and tentatively seek out the alternative for moving forward.  I remind you: We are not here to stick our toes in the water.  We are here to make waves.” Alan Weiss, Thrive! Stop Wishing Your Life Away, page 103

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

AT&T Business Execution Failure

December 10, 2009

AT&T’s CEO has taken to blaming customers for consuming too much cellular bandwidth and, in effect, hogging capacity.  AT&T’s CEO has nailed it!  It is the customer’s fault.  Thanks for clearing that up.

So, while it’s the “customer’s fault,” is it salient that AT&T’s network has historically been behind actual demand? Why should we be surprised now?

My memory is that cell phone voice mail was created because networks could not support demand…there was no contractual commitment that calls needed to get through on the first dial.  So, as much as we’d like to think cellular voicemail was for our convenience, network capacity drove this feature.

The iPhone has certainly exacerbated the network problem for AT&T.  That and Verizon’s new advertising campaign in the US illustrating the lack of robustness of their network.

AT&T is talking about rate changes for heavy users of the iPhone.  I liken it to drug usage–inexpensive to get started but expensive to keep up now that you are hooked.

But, will paying more get you a better network?  Not in the near term.

AT&T is hoping you will use your iPhone less because of the cost premiums customers want to avoid which will increase their network bandwidth because they have a constrained supply.  It might help, but, it’s not an answer.  And, they’ll be degrading service at the same price, not a good strategy for creating a wonderful customer experience.

AT&T entered into an agreement with Apple that meant AT&T would realize no profit from the iPhone for 17 months after launch.  If Verizon offers the iPhone with a better service plan, AT&T customers will move in droves overnight.

As a devout Verizon customer, will that be a good thing for me?  Too early to tell.

What do you think?

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting