Archive for the 'Business' Category
Now you know what to get that someone in your life who has absolutely everything… everything BUT a super-sharp pencil. (pencil not included)
Well, I haven’t blogged about this whole mess until now but the final straw has got me steamed.
Last Spring I bought what I thought was a pretty slick (and pretty) HP Pavillion entertainment PC.
It’s a good-looking machine but came with Vista installed. I started having problems with it almost right away.
My first thought was to blame Vista. I’ve been less than impressed with it as an OS and of course, hearing all the problems others have had made me think that Vista really might be worse than I had thought. Honestly, I’m no fan of Microsoft, but I really felt people were “over-complaining”… that sentiment soon changed to feeling that the worst of the stories I had heard about Vista were in fact too kind.
Basically, my machine would hang and crash unexpectedly (I had no funky devices connected or unproven, experimental extensions) several times each day. Worst of all, the biggest problem cropped up when I was sharing my desktop in WebEx meetings with a big client. Anytime I resized a window while hosting a meeting, the thing would hang. Of course, I would only remember this key event after inadvertently grabbing a corner and trying to move a window out of the way… d’oh!
Anyway, once I had finally had enough, I figured I’d rid myself of Vista altogether. This was back in June but I was able to land an advance copy of Windows 7, so I loaded that up and was prepared to be rid of my Vista woes forever.
Win7 didn’t impress me (still doesn’t). And the problems didn’t go away… though they slowed enough to delay even further troubleshooting that finally uncovered some bad sectors on my hard drive.
Frustrating, but hey- these things happen. I’m not ready at this point to damn HP for a simple hardware fault. Happens to the best of ‘em. Since I’m still under warranty, I figure I’d better get this replaced soon.
I’ve been backing up and recovering enough in the previous weeks (I reinstalled Vista three times and Win7 once… this was getting to be second nature) so the thought of starting over yet again with a clean HD didn’t phase me.
Now, to contact HP customer service you can whip out the credit card and call their tolled nickel-and-dime line to get them to address your problem with their product. That didn’t appeal to me on principle, so I pulled up the free option to chat to a rep via instant message instead.
The process was fine; a little stilted and it was obvious I was getting many responses that were an auto-bot, not a person… or at least a person with some canned responses. I can’t blame them- that sort of thing will make sure you deliver consistent customer service and save your people some time and keystrokes… but it does feel less than personal.
We soon established that I do indeed need a replacement HD and that I do indeed qualify for a warranty repair. But I discovered that when I installed Win7, the installer wiped out my old Vista restore partition.
That sucked because when I installed it, I thought it would have left the restore partition (with the HP Vista recovery software on it) that came with my laptop in tact.
Turns out the Win7 installer wiped everything. So now, I’ve got a fresh (working, hopefully) hard drive on its way from HP but get this: they won’t send me one with the same recovery software on it that was on the original HD in the laptop. They’re sending one along tabula rasa.
HP customer service generosity knows no bounds- they will give me the software I so foolishly failed to back up from the HD they originally sold me … but it’ll cost me twenty bucks. Seriously?
I mentioned to the rep in my chat session how stupid I thought this was and could they please just send me that friggin disc without dinging me a lousy twenty bucks? I guess my persistence was enough since my chat rep agreed to send me the disc gratis.
Not really a big “win” in a contest “against” a major corporation in the interest of getting good customer service (I mean, really! – they are finally just agreeing to replace their defective hard drive with another one that looks exactly like the one I originally shelled out at least part of my 1400 bucks for…)
But the replacement hard drive arrives… but no recovery disc. “No biggie”, I reason. “Surely the disc was sent under separate cover…”
Weeks later. No disc. Wait- didn’t the chat dude say “don’t worry”? It’s a phrase they use a lot. I can’t tell whether it’s because they’re shelling out canned expressions or English is not their first language and they believe American English speakers pepper the phrase “don’t worry” every few lines of every conversation. Either way, it’s equal parts annoying and unnerving.
Well, in any case, I’m venting here not only because I’m pissed off at getting less than stellar treatment, but because I promised (okay, it might have sounded like a threat) the chatty-Cathy I pinged today that I would post this if I didn’t get some satisfaction.
Turns out, this ‘Cathy’ whose name in the chat session was Sherry, wasn’t too interested in my pleas for a little (tiny, really) concession. She did say she would log the issue- woooo, that should satisfy me.
It is the height of insanity in my opinion, that HP & other hardware manufacturers will lay out hundreds of dollars in rebates to try and attract new customers, but they cannot make an exception to a 20 dollar charge for a disc with data on it that comes free with the original hardware.
Would love to write up something positive here, but HP has failed to deliver on a simple little point of decent customer service. Hard to believe they’re willing to give up customer satisfaction by clinging white-knuckled to their 20 dollar bill. Morons.
I, for one will not purchase HP products again because I want to be treated like a valued customer- not an opportunity to keep paying out 10 bucks here, 20 bucks there, ad infinitum.
My next laptop will be from Apple… or anyone but Hewlett-Packard.
Always up for creative ways to render information.
I think we need a new phrase that reminds us, not only is a picture worth a thousand words, but some pictures can extend understanding and even stimulate new creative insights.
This article expands on it, but the graph could just about speak for itself… and let you take it from here…
Bonus: I posted this to ease my nerves as I watch a very close & exciting hockey game- and my team scores to go ahead in the 3rd: sweet! Go RedWings!
This is the full movie (about an hour long), feel free to use the full-screen control to view.
Much of this is old hat to those of us who already grok collaborative systems, but exciting to see so many real-world examples and most exciting of all- that some day soon we (the people) may truly, not just figuratively or by proxy, rule ourselves. Government, corporations, services.
This film does a great job of driving some of these concepts home. Share!
Small coincidence for me: during the community football management story, they reference Wrexham where I used to live.
I’ve been saying this for a long time (and have had a small role to play in getting this word out there) that large businesses need to embrace Web 2.0 good-ness even for their internal tools.
This means better interfaces and leveraging the power of their own internal communities- which are not insignificant in many cases.
It’s a small but significant indicator- barometer, if you will- of how a company feels about its employees whether it chooses to spend some time (and splash out some cash) and provide effective, and yes, even beautiful tools to work with.
Among these tools are the intranet necessities, doling out HR information, keeping up with adminutia and getting word from the leadership team on everything from strategy to tactical recommendations for getting stuff done in the workplace.
So why do these tools usually suck so bad? Because they’ve historically been seen as a necessary evil. Not critical to employees’ core job function (unless they happen to be in HR or maybe accounting). Truth is, not only should these tools be awesome there’s little reason for them not to be.
It’s not just a morale thing (though morale improves when folks have decent tools and are well informed of the company’s policies and direction… duh) it’s also an efficiency thing. When the tools are good, people will use them. Force them to use crappy tools and not everyone will know about the latest procedure change to the expense submission process… or that there’s a new cover for the TPS report.
Now, enter the social aspect of being connected to your co-workers. Large enterprises are a microcosm of the larger web. Let’s move on from the top-down Web 1.0 approach where information travels in one direction only. Employees have things to say, both up the chain and to their peers. Things that need a forum for discussion even if they’re not in the same building or working at the same time.
Social networks can work to fill the void of the old water-cooler, as described in this eWeek article. This is coming- and the slower organizations that need it most will likely get there last, but better late than never.
I’ve been saying this for some time now: those who have services to offer companies (and individuals) that actually make or save them money (which amounts to the same thing) still have value to create and will make wealth for themselves and others- regardless of where the DOW average is.
For those of us in IT who focus on streamlining processes and making operations faster and cheaper, the market is only growing. My guess is we’ll emerge from this downturn with a slew of companies who operate faster, cheaper and deliver better customer service. In the end, we will all be better off… though it may take a while before we collectively wake up and look around to realize, “hey, things aren’t so bad again”.
Here’s what Forrester has to say about it.
And remember- if you only went by news coverage, we still haven’t recovered from the last recession. Recovery doesn’t make headlines- only crashes do.
So, Google CEO, Eric Schmidt has some words to announce and is summed up in this eWeek article.
What I find fascinating as we all try to deal with the current economic situation is how different people react. So much of the problems are fundamental failings of the system, but it’s amazing how much of it is fueled by our collective attitudes about it.
You can’t be Pollyanna and pretend there’s no problem, but what a lot of folks don’t realize is that our reaction to dealing with the problems can correct them. We’ll shift our consumer focus and technology will continue to offer new opportunities for growth.
Especially encouraging is the continued emergence of mobile devices as our new personal center of computing. As we move away from desktops, our new, and only slightly more powerful handheld computers will harness the power of the cloud for storage and processing. All the pieces are in place and the weak points (like battery life, transmission speeds and security) are improving rapidly.
As with any paradigm shift, there will be winners and some losers (though history shows us the only real losers are those who fail to adapt) but in the move there is opportunity!
Exciting stuff… and yes, I’m an optimist at heart (under a light, candy shell of cynicism) but I’m no Pollyanna. Tough times confront us- but that only means you have to work harder to reap the rewards.
Well, I haven’t posted on this topic yet but a couple months ago, my employer made some what some might call trendy, yet I called income-reducing, decision to cut a significant percentage of its workforce.
Though I was cut, I don’t consider myself a victim of any larger trend. I believe my former employer failed to more aggressively capture a growing segment in the market still hungry for professional services like I provide.
News of all the layoffs in many industries grabs all the headlines and to be sure, there’s a lot of scaling back being done. Fortunately, there are segments who will weather the storm and some who are actually growing right now. To be fair, some of these are growing not in spite of the downturn but because of it. However, there are other areas that are just not as affected by large labor cutbacks or dips in stock values.
One area that continues to grow is that of companies trying to improve their business efficiencies. Even those who must cut jobs to appease investors, need more efficient back-office tools to get work done even more efficiently since they now have fewer staff.
We’ll start to see the economy turning around once the media has had its fill of doom-and-gloom… or some new distraction surfaces to get consumers spending again.
Since I’m doing freelance work but keeping one eye on the job market at the same time, I’m seeing more and more confirmation of my hunch that there are places to go where you can contribute value and be compensated for it, you just have to look a little harder.
This one’s almost too good to be true. I think they should just leave it up there and convert it to a local tourist attraction (having lived in Wales some four years, believe me- they can use some help attracting people to the place)
This story tells the tale of a British sign mishap where the Welsh translation was handled very sloppily indeed. Turns out the supposed translation was really just the would-be translator’s Out-of-Office automated responder. Full story here
A while back, a friend of mine recounted to me a nuggent of wisdom from an old client who said, “you know what ‘legacy system’ means to me? It means that it works.”
Funny. True. …and when you’re in the business of making new and better systems, you run into this sentiment a lot.
It didn’t occur to me sooner how to elegantly respond to this chestnut, but I think I have it now.
By way of analogy, the early adopters of the automobile and the telephone system could easily have fallen back on this way of thinking.
A horse will most likely get you where you need to go and will have fewer breakdowns and no flat tires along the way- you don’t even need to use a road.
Likewise, an early long distance telephone call could take hours to connect and required a team of operators to synchronize and make it happen… but hey- when you send a letter through the post, it doesn’t suddenly cut out half-way through or get merged with cross-talk from another sender.
On the downside, you have to put fuel in a horse whether you’re using it or not, it has few serviceable parts so when something goes wrong you need a whole new one. Sending a letter takes time and resources to create and can take weeks to get any kind of response.
When we look at these changes, we know that (most of) the kinks in the new systems got worked out and we now have it way better than those who rely solely on the legacy systems.
Lucky for those of us born after the 19th century, we didn’t have to experience the extreme growing pains these early adopters did, but the pattern repeats itself with every new innovation.
The change is spurred by an unserved need that is first met by a solution that isn’t quite good enough. However, this new solution attacks a problem that motivated early adopters will endure a period of low reliability to solve.
Embracing change is hard. Harder for some than others. The wonderful thing about the diversity of the marketplace is there seems to be a healthy balance of early adopters who bring the more conservative risk-averse forward by working through the rough periods of change ahead of them.
When you find yourself facing the murky waters of early technology or process change, it might be better to be looking ahead to the time when the new solution works as reliably (but better in most ways) than the legacy system it is replacing.
This is healthier in the long run than lamenting over the fact that even though it was slow and ugly, the legacy system “worked”.