Technology Past and a Bet on the Future

Susan Ellsworth

We all have rituals in our lives. One of ours is to get together on December 31 or January 1 with a friend of ours from the Eastern shore of Maryland. On December 31, he brought his iPad with him, and our discussion about technology ran something like this.

When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak first rolled out Apple computer in 1976, their assumption most likely was that if they built a better mousetrap, the world would beat a path to their door. When Bill Gates started Microsoft, Gates believed that if he promoted his operating system widely, included necessary tools  and got it installed on all the new small pc’s being rolled out, the world would create and roll a carpet to his door. Gates was right, and Microsoft was initially more successful than Apple.

So why am I now reading eMail newsletters that talk about the Apple iPad in the corporate workplace?

Consider one of the smarter moves that Apple made in the 1990’s. Almost as if by magic, Apple Macintosh computers started appearing in public schools. The children in those schools became comfortable with the way the Apples worked. Those children grew up and today are the decision-makers in corporations who remember those Apple computers. They are the ones using the iPads and going to “cloud computing.”

Or consider this software scenario. Back on April 11,2009, I was wondering out loud if Front Range Solutions, the manufacturer of GoldMine, had a purely technical focus rather than a marketing focus—and just who [was] being listened to—and who had contributed significantly to FrontRange’s lack of planning so that GoldMine Premium Edition was not working with with social networking applications.  I wondered if this situation were the total lack of awareness of a sea change in marketing strategies. Lack of incentive ? Lack of customer access to the FrontRange movers and shakers that make it happen?

Today GoldMine Premium Edition still is not integrated with social networking, still is not Software as a Service, and still is not in the cloud. Has FrontRange has concluded that the midmarket is ignoring social networking? How long will FrontRange continue along this path before it is abandoned by its midmarket target?

In an interesting twist of fate, Jon Ferrara —the creator of the product GoldMine and co-founder of the company GoldMine Software— concluded that “most of the vendors that used to serve the small business market have either taken their eye off the ball or have tried to move up-market in price and features. They have abandoned their traditional users and partners and have left a large hole in the space that GoldMine used to fill. “He created a new company and product “to address the needs of the small business CRM community including its end users and Solutions Partners. ” He predicted that “Nimble CRM, a SaaS CRM system for the small business market, will be launched in 2010. It will be lean, mean, affordable and of course Nimble. In addition to all of the features you would expect in a CRM system it will have cutting edge features that leverage the internet including tight social networking integration, web and blog site integration, and great email marketing. “[LinkedIn Nimble group] As with many technical product launches, the beta testers found and reported a few more issues than a responsible company would roll out to the public. Nevertheless, I believe that Ferrara—a guy with a record of success—will succeed with Nimble.

What remains to be seen includes the computing platforms (smart phones and iPads, for example) we see in the schools today that will thrive and be the corporate tools of choice when the students of today are the CIOs of tomorrow.  It also includes  well-developed, flexible softwares easily accessed by the computing public.

Watching 24 x 7 x 365


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