Mixed Messages

Why do I suddenly feel like someone just asked me if this computer thing will really catch on, or if water is a good idea?

Here’s another forum comment that I think is better responded to here.

>By the way I look forward to your pronouncements on
the wide range of subjects that you cover despite the
>fact that I think that it is the manufacturer that should
>be doing it. Thanks for sharing your extensive research.

Thank you! But, um, where the heck have you been for the last decade?

It’s not like the technical capabilities I talk about in forums don’t already exist. (See the bottom section of this article to understand what sort of capabilities we’re discussing.) I’ve been talking about this stuff for years. We can do all of the things I mention in these forums and blogs. I’ve implemented many of them for my clients and demonstrated many of them at conferences and private sessions. In addition to selling my body, this is sort of how I feed my family.

The DBMS vendors (all of them) have already provided the tools that we need to do everything I mentioned. It’s not like LadyBridge is going to announce an image scanning module, or jBASE is going to announce speech synthesis or voice recognition. It’s our job to make use of all available technologies to solve problems presented by our clients. That includes using our database of choice plus tools offered by the rest of this wide wide world of technology that we live in.

Why would you want a database company to provide you with integration with MS Outlook or an interface for GPS? Do you ask your refrigerator company to sell you meat, your car company to sell you gas, or your mortgage company to paint your house? Some capabilities like RDBMS access are reasonable to expect from a DBMS company. But if you wait for them to provide you with the absolute perfect solution for all of your clients’ needs, or even anything just outside of narrow focus utilities, you’re going to be waiting forever because that simply isn’t the business that they’re in. And your clients will wait for some time as well, but I guarantee they won’t wait for as long as you. Nebula R&D can provide solutions for you and your clients now – why wait?

Have I not been getting the message across about what we actually do here at Nebula Research and Development? I have never gone off and spouted techno-babble in forums, this blog, or prospect meetings that we can only do tomorrow. I only discuss solutions that we can provide today. I’ve already tested almost everything I talk about, or where it’s too expensive to do so, I’ve done the research to guarantee that it can be done for anyone who wants it.

The point I’ve always tried to make in our community forums is that you guys can have any of this stuff today. You just need to find out from your clients what business solutions they need, and then you can come to Nebula R&D to discuss how we can collaborate to provide those solutions. It can be win-win-win, but if you don’t tell your clients they can have whatever they want, then all of us lose. That’s my ongoing mantra.

One mistake that I’ve made for many years (and I see I’m still paying for it) is that I have not productized various technologies into solutions that people can use out of the box. Many of you guys sell business software with an obvious statement of purpose. I don’t sell a product that will make a phone call to an end-user sys-admin if the file-save didn’t finish.

I’ve been leaving it up to you guys to translate client statements like:
          "I absolutely need to know if the backup doesn’t work"
into solution proposals like:
         "Would you like a phone call, an email, an IM on your phone, or all of them?"

I’ve been waiting for you to translate:
         "Our CFO spend hours every week reformatting these Excel docs"
         "Would you like the data pre-formatted or integrated into other Excel workbooks?"

I need to fix that problem. Over the years I’ve been trying to sell tools that allow MV app developers to create these solutions on their own. But on the whole, MV app guys don’t do well with components and protocols. They want a tangible gizmo, that has a stated purpose, that they can sell without building too much around it. Good examples of productization include MITS, AccuTerm, and 1mage. While extensible for other purposes, each of these has a fairly clear statement of purpose – BI & Reporting, Terminal Emulation, document scanning and processing. I’ve been trying to sell classes of solutions that apply to a variety of problems which only your end-users can define – because they’ll be the first to tell you that no one does business like they do, so they need a special solution.

OK, mea culpa. We’re forming new relationships that will allow us to productize various solutions which will hopefully be of use to you MV guys, and outside of the MV market too. I don’t believe in the "build it and they will come" model (anymore) but there is some "low hanging fruit" that might justify some upfront efforts. Hey, suggestions are always welcome!

Stay tuned, and in the meantime, please keep Nebula R&D in mind to help resolve some of the pain your clients will hopefully express to you. Thanks!

 I wrote in the forum…

…I will ask you folks to think to yourselves how many newsletters you’ve sent which tell your users they can have e-mail, Excel, Outlook, MS Project, Web Services, SOA, EDI, interfaces with trading partners, remote printing, voice notifications, voice inquiries, GPS location, image scanning, OCR, Ajax, Web 2.0, bar code printing / reading, GUI, business intelligence, integration with RDBMS, or any of the other things that we discuss in these public forums. I suspect many of you glaze over at the words and wouldn’t dare to utter them around your clients for fear someone would ask you what they mean or how they could be used to help their businesses. Clients won’t ask their MV vendors about Web Services or other things they read about in magazines this because everyone knows the MV guy is comfortable in his safe cage. And that’s why we are where we are today.

The solution to this (and gosh I opened my own can o worms here) is for MV vendors to re-inforce for their user base that the technology they use continues to be modern and capable of helping to solve all modern business needs. When your users ask you for details, tell them your specialty is with the application software (or whatever it is you have provided) and that you’ll get someone who can talk to them about their options. Then come back here and partner with one of the people/companies who specialize in whatever it is, and manage the relationship to ensure your clients get what they need.

I only go on about stuff like this because we are all needlessly suffering in one way or another because every man thinks he’s an island, and if he doesn’t completely understand every aspect of some solution himself then he won’t even discuss it with his clients. And let’s not get started about how MV people think everything has to be free, just because we "used" to be so fast and cheap – there are too many anecdotes of end-users who went off to spend millions when their MV company was afraid to charge them hundreds. The technology is here in every MV platform we have. We just need to use it. If we don’t use it, the MV vendors will stop putting in the goodies, then they’ll go away, leaving us with even fewer options, and only confirming for our clients that the Pick world is indeed dying.

1 thought on “Mixed Messages

    • I suspect your approach to "productize" your offerings is probably the best solution to this problem.
      I had a client who needed to go to the Web. I seemed to be the LAST person they’d trust for advice on how to do that although they’d been a client for 20 years. In the MV world, I had their trust but as soon as they looked beyond that, nothing I said could make a difference. They paid several Web providers tens of thousands of dollars for off the shelf shopping carts, duplicated data all over the map and generally got nothing for it all. Finally, I threw up my hands and left them to the wolves. I wasn’t making any money giving them advice they didn’t follow anyway although time proved me right. They finally threw the baby out with the bath water and moved to another platform losing all their MV expertise, speed, efficiency, and low-cost. But… they’re on the Web now! You can lead them to water, but sometimes, they’ll drown themselves in it and you really can’t make them drink anyway.
      By productizing your offerings, you are providing the community with some sort of "shrinkwrapped" tool that we can point to like Accuterm (for example). We can offer a tangible item that our customers can touch and feel. That seems much easier to present and sell than a ‘trust me, I know what I’m doing" approach. Anyway, painful as it’s been, I think you’re on the right track with this idea. I look forward to seeing what you come up with and, hopefully, it’s something that will sell like crazy! I thnk the book is a good idea and look forward to buying it!

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