What can a powerhouse PC vendor and a high-priced coffee destination possibly have in common? Both have capitalized on promising beginnings and pushed them to the limit. Then each continued onward into uncharted territory, where additional growth came at the expensive of some of the stuff that made them great in the first place.
Which leaves Dell (Dell) and Starbucks where they are today: In each case, the basic product is still good; the reputation for a stellar customer experience, not so much. Now, pay attention to precisely what I'm saying here. I did not state that the customer experience isn't good anymore. I said that both Dell's and Starbuck's reputations for providing an unparalleled environment in which to purchase computers or to sip latte has declined. And that's undeniably true.
Take Dell. It has taken major hits in public, beginning most prominently with blogger Jeff Jarvis's infamous "Dell Hell" posts of 2005. Since you rarely get a second chance to correct a really bad impression, that meme has been replicated in the blogosphere right down to the present day. (See Ed Burnette's ZDNet post, "How Dell screwed up my order," from last week.)
Is this kind of stuff fair? On a macro basis, of course not. There will always be some customers who have problems, notwithstanding that the majority of buyers are happy. Hey, if that wasn't the case, the Dell would go out of business.
Me, I was a Dell fan early on, buying a machine from them in 1994. Back then, Gateway was the PC vendor of choice for the less-knowledgeable masses, and Dell was the geekier option. Ultimately, Dell evolved into a reliable, mainstream vendor for PC buyers of all stripes.
Today, unfortunately, I'm not sure exactly what Dell's market positioning is supposed to be. Dell certainly isn't the cheapest. It's not the coolest, either. Which is why the perception that it no longer has super customer service may be so damaging. That alone would be reason enough to get me to give Dell another try, but quite frankly I'm hesitant, even if that's unfair.
"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport." -- Love, Actually
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Examine how more than 250 companies plan to adopt server virtualization technology in this recent InformationWeek Research report, Server Virtualization.
The BI Explosion
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Electric Sheep, A Leading Virtual-Worlds Content Company, Shears 25% Of Employees
The Electric Sheep Company, a leading content-creation company working in Second Life and other virtual worlds, this week laid off 20 people, or 25% of its staff. Coming on the heels of the departure of AOL from Second Life, and CTO Cory Ondrejka’s departure from Linden Lab, the events invite the question: What’s going on in Second Life? Is something wrong?
2008: Buy, Build, Or Rent Your Software?
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Songbird: An Open Source Music Mashup System
"I can't live without my radio," LL Cool J once declaimed. Me, I can't live without my music library: there isn't a day that goes by when I don't have Miles Davis or Brian Eno (or, when I'm feeling more ruminative, Merzbow) on the speakers. To that end I tried out Songbird, a Mozilla-derived open-source music player and web-sharing platform. In time it could be to WMP and even Winamp what Firefox is to IE -- but, again, in time.
CIO Must Read: "Breakthrough IT"
In his new book, consultant Patrick Gray examines how to take your IT organization from a cost-centric services provider to a valuable business partner. Here's a hint: Do your homework.
The Openness Of The Open Source Vulnerability Database
There are a lot of open source initiatives out there that aren't just software, but ways to get information into people's hands. Today an open source supplier of security vulnerability information, the OSVDB, just went live with a whole new revision to its service. The information it provides is free, albeit with some strings attached that have raised a few hackles.
The Corporate Vista Slow-Down
Last October, a Gartner survey found that 64% of companies planned to begin moving from Windows XP to Windows Vista by the winter of 2008. One year later, that number stands at a measly 9%. Vista may be down, but don't count it out.
ROI Case Study: ADP Enterprise Etime This analyst report provides an ROI analysis of ADP's enterprise Etime solution, outlining the various challenges, costs, and benefits that were realized throughout the ADP implementation.
B2B Collaboration: Assessing the ROI of Process Integration Business and IT leaders are under increasing pressure to improve B2B collaboration and the electronic communication capabilities of their organizations. This report looks at the key drivers for B2B collaboration in both the purchase-to-pay and order-to-cash areas and provides an ROI framework to help companies assess their areas of opportunity.
A Leading Power Utility Reaches for Transactional Efficiency A leading power utilities company had a substantial amount of money being paid out in duplicate payments and auditor's fees. The company's director of accounting services considered this a serious problem. The Oversight project originated with and was driven by finance professionals.
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