A 'reputation manager' for a global software giant revealed some internal research to me recently. Or to be more accurate, I had a look at his briefs while he was outside on his mobile.
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An audit of the firm's technical support revealed that users preferred blondes to brunettes when talking to technical support. How these men (it was a mostly male study group) would have known someone's hair colour from a phone conversation, I never found out. But we can conclude on thing from this: IT is mostly about perception.
One Israeli vendor, which sold a lot of hardware into the Third World, always used to house its routers in gigantic boxes. As a marketing strategy, this proved to be a stroke of genius as the buyers were psychologically influenced and thought bigger must be better.
Conversely, the boss of a successful UK networking company always had to hide his vintage sports car when he visited clients in case he was perceived as too rich and too flash. He was, of course, but that would have damaged his sales prospects, especially among his public sector customers.
The cloud is currently suffering some terribly negative perceptions. This week an IT service provider reported how a client went into a blind panic when a cloud service was mooted. “How can a cloud store data?” was one of his queries. “What if the weather changes?” was another.
Quite sensible queries, I would argue, because the cloud metaphor doesn't really stack up. There needs to be a much more believable way to explain the benefits of virtual computing.
In the meantime, there are plenty of empty metal boxes that need a second use. There are millions of old fridges and giant TV sets that could be saved from the dump, re-purposed and made to look like they could be housing high end software applications. These reassuringly large metal boxes would keep the clients happy, and they'd save us all a fortune on landfill costs.
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