INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS

 

Volume XII, Number 3                                                                                                        November, 2005

 

A newsletter for clients and friends of Chenault Systems

Copyright © 2005 Chenault Systems, Inc.  All rights reserved.

 


ADAPT Installations Now Total Ten

With new customers, NewHope Media (division of Penton Media, Inc.), and Diversified Communications, there are now 10 installations of ADAPT in the world. To summarize, by using demographics, based on prior registration information, ADAPT attracts people to events with more focused direct marketing. Companies use it to save on fulfillment costs (direct mail, e-mail or phone calling) and market segmentation. By using ADAPT, one of our clients cleaned out their list by 30%.

This elimination of duplicates in their database saved them postage and printed materials cost.  The flexibility that ADAPT gave their marketing managers has improved their marketing effectiveness by 20% (reduced printing cost, etc.).

The link below contains a demonstration of ADAPT developed by Chenault Systems and Hanley-Wood during 2001-2002.  This product won "Trade Show Innovation of the Year" in 2003.  The system takes data from all kinds of formats and aggregates it into ONE central database.  The system can also be used over an Intranet.

The link to the 6-minute demo is www.adaptdb.com/adapt_demo2.html.

Do Good Guys Finish Last In Business?

By Barry Moltz

Unfortunately in this world, the bad guys win a lot. In fact, mean and dishonest people sometimes can find easier financial success in business than those who play it straight.

If making money is one of our goals, why do well at all and why play fair in business?  Why show compassion to others when sometimes it may seem like it’s easier and quicker to cheat?  I have pondered this question over the years as I done business with all types of people and with every outcome.

Jennifer Flaitz of KPMG questions the definition of a good guy.  She wonders: “Is it just being nice to people and treating them with compassion or is being a nice guy something in addition to providing a business solution that consumers need?”

Flaitz uses Starbucks as an example.

“While many didn't think Starbucks early business growth strategy of setting up shop across the street from their competition was fair, the truth is they provided a consistent, quality product, were open at the most convenient times and provided friendly service.  That was and continues to be the key to their success.”

She concludes: “Those who finish creating positive karma, are compassionate and passionate while providing a service, solution or product that fills a need will always be successful maybe even more successful than their evil competitors.”

Dave Dailey at Silicon Valley Bank believes that it all starts with the leadership of a company that sets the standards.

“Strong leaders are people who can attract other talented and smart individuals around them,” he said.  Like-minded people with similar morals and ethics are generally attracted to each other.  Successful companies are the companies that have strong leadership.  Smart people are not going to follow ruthless leaders.  There are exceptions, but by some arcane application of logic, nice guys should finish first or at least not last.

Lori Erickson at public relations firm Ruder Finn examines the issue in her own profession.

The reputation of PR people has had its ups and downs over the years, she said.  “Overall, I think the profession has good practitioners who can make a real impact for the companies they represent as well as poor practitioners who sell well and do not deliver.  Unfortunately, a few bad apples can make the efforts of the well-intentioned practitioner much more of an uphill battle.”

The efforts of the well intentioned pay off eventually but those focused on the ends over the means are simply weights around our necks that slow the process of meeting that inevitable outcome, she added.  It takes tremendous endurance and some degree of faith to pursue the higher path because it is a long process with small and infrequent gratifications.

There are temptations along the way to conform to the ways of those focused solely on personal gain because it is the easier path.  For me personally, that would mean compromising principles that I'm not willing to compromise and being a person I am not willing to be.

Another PR professional, Karen Andre of K Andre Consulting, sums up her philosophy by saying:  I do not believe there are shortcuts in business or in life.  If you follow what you know to be true, you will discover there is a unique set of opportunities for your business.  It takes a leap of faith and consistently treating others the way you wish to be treated.

Clay Garner, president of Growth Resources, believes that the tough guys and the good guys can achieve success. He added: “The real question is: What kind of a person do you want to be once you get there?  After more than 20 years of business, my conclusion is that the question of where good guys finish is irrelevant.  It doesn’t matter if good guys finish last, first or don’t even enter the race.”

As business people, we should strive to be as fair as possible simply because it is the right thing to do.  We should treat people the way we want to be treated. It is the way we need to try to live our lives regardless of what others do.

All religions have preached this as the famous “golden rule.”  One of my favorite versions is by Judaism’s Rabbi Hillel.  When asked to explain all of Jewish law, he simply responds: “What is hateful to you do not do your fellow man. That is the entire law. All the rest is commentary.”

As I reflect on my business life in relation to this golden rule, I have not always been successful in acting in this way.  Still, it is a goal I strive for every day.  So do good guys finish last?  It depends on where you sit and how you keep score. Mostly, it doesn’t really matter.  Just do good.

Scams, Lies, Deceit, and Offshoring
By John C. Dvorak

Someone has to take the jobs that, as President Bush and others say, “Americans don't want.”  There appear to be a large number of these jobs. In fact, it seems that our fastest-growing business segment is the creation of more and more jobs that Americans don't want.  Often, American companies will lay people off, only to train newcomers to replace them.

Here is how the real scam works. You are a programmer at one of the big IT or computer companies. You're 55 and nearing a retirement plateau; in fact, you're a liability.  You're making, say, $80,000 as a program designer. You have various responsibilities.  The company eliminates your position in the process of downsizing.

To be fair to you, it creates a new position, Associate Program Designer that pays $35,000 a year.  Its responsibilities coincidentally match those of your old job.  You can take this job, doing what you did before but at a huge cut in pay, or look elsewhere.  If the latter, it's apparent that this new job is one that “Americans don't want.”  The company can then hire a “body shop” to drop in a foreign H-1B or L1 visa holder, who will not be quite as good but will work for a lot less.

This is a bait-and-switch scheme that is designed to screw older and more experienced workers out of their retirement benefits, plain and simple.  This sort of thing, unfortunately, is nothing new to corporate America: Every time I write about it, I get hundreds of e-mails from people who have been abused by such practices.

More horrendous still is the sudden emergence of offshoring, whereby we send the money as well as the jobs overseas, mostly to India, where labor is even cheaper.  The proponents of offshoring have a rumored $100 million PR budget; anyone who speaks out against this trend is bombarded by hate mail.  Just mentioning the problem here will result in numerous requests to my editors that I be fired. Few of the senders will be traceable.

The sinister nature of offshoring jobs has corrupted the highest levels of our nation. Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example, is directly involved with one of the big body shops, Mumbai-based Tata Consultancy Services.  Bush is actively promoting the replacement of American workers.  Colin Powell recently promised India that the administration would continue to promote offshoring.  Which country does he represent, anyway?

In an economic argument that is floating around, people cook numbers to show that every job lost to offshoring is a ridiculously large net benefit to the U.S. economy; we are making money on the deal.  One math genius claimed that although we export around $10 billion in outsourcing fees, the economy somehow recovers over $300 billion in savings. It's a bonanza.  Taking this logic to an extreme, if we offshored all American jobs and nobody here worked, we'd be filthy rich.  Let's just do that!  Where do I get my check?

I hear all the time that coders in India are cheaper and better.  What makes them better?  Have there been some blockbuster Indian software programs that I somehow missed?  Maybe they are good at patching spaghetti code or doing well-defined C++ modules, but who knows?  You'd think that some killer apps would have come out of India by now, as they have from Europe, the U.S., Japan, and even Russia.

Even more irksome than this notion of “better” is the fact that companies are trying to hide their offshoring operations, a deceptive practice at best.  Help desks, bill collectors, and telemarketers are in India.  All the AT&T staffers I have talked to seem to be in India, but ask them where they are and they won't say.  They are trained to fake American accents.  They say their name is Bill or Dave or Patty; it is clearly not. They never tell you where they are, because Americans don't like having their American Express records (yes, AmEx uses India) in Bangalore, where our privacy laws aren't in force.

One company told my wife that its reps don't say where they are from because of terrorism.  Terrorism?  My wife is going to fly to Bangalore?  The companies we do business with lie us to; plain dishonesty is at work here.

Although I appreciate some aspects of globalization, I can't excuse the cavalier attitude toward fellow Americans that we see among large corporations who benefit from the free-enterprise system and American infrastructure.  It will come back to haunt them all.

Reprinted with permission of John C. Dvorak.

Copyright (c) 2005 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Quote Worth Noting

“If it's true that we are here to help others, then what exactly are the others here for?” -- George Carlin