Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

What’s happened to class?

Friday, July 9th, 2010

As we all know, the only constant in the world is change.  During periods of change we all go through natural cycles of resistance, denial and ultimately everyone moves on and accepts the new reality.

Maybe it has something to do with the speed that news travels via the Web and social media, but class in the face of pressure and change seems to be something that has gone missing in action of late.

The latest example is the scathing letter from Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert about LeBron James’ decision to join the Miami Heat.  In a display of absolutely zero class, Gilbert called LeBron’s decision “a shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own.”

LeBron

What Gilbert fails to mention is that LeBron’s presence in Cleveland for the last several years has increased the value of his franchise by over $100 million and led to a sold out arena night in and night out. Gilbert should have been thanking LeBron for the contribution to his personal net worth and wished him the best in his new endeavor.

That would be the classy thing to do.  Sure Gilbert is in denial, but perhaps he should he should have just kept it to himself. While people in Cleveland might appreciate Gilbert’s diatribe, it’s unlikely this does much for the Cav’s brand around the country.

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Can innovation survive when companies grow?

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Living in the world of high tech means, at least to me, that we play by a different set of rules. Many tech companies are seen as innovative, strategic and forward-thinking, while others are clumsy, slow and reactionary. I started thinking about this issue after I read a recent Op Ed in the New York Times written by former Microsoft executive Dick Brass. In this article Brass ripped Microsoft for not being terribly innovative and commented that part of the issue resides in the company’s corporate culture. It ruffled feathers so much that fellow Microsoft PR pro Frank Shaw posted a response on The Microsoft Blog defending the company.

Similarly, CNET recently took some shots about the engineering-driven culture at Google and questioned whether the company could tackle the growth of social media.

I took a step back to ponder this issue for a while. I’m not going to argue if Microsoft is innovative or if Google’s corporate culture might get in the way of improving its social media capabilities. Rather, what does this mean for the PR pros in the high tech world?

Start-ups generally get a few years to make good on their initial ideas. Engineering doesn’t simply happen overnight. Start-ups seem to gain acceptance early on, probably because their ideas sound interesting and people are always willing to support the underdog. But Microsoft was young once and yet now, some 35 years later, they are mocked for their lack of innovation.

“But part of the problem is communication: the term “innovation” largely has lost its meaning and has become a buzzword for big companies to use whenever they want to sound competitive and forward-thinking.” Gregory T. Huang, Xconomy

The more I thought about these issues, the more I realized that this has to do with brand. When a company is young it is energetic, full of ideas and many times referred to as “innovative”. As the company builds a strong brand reputation over time, it’s important to remain true to its principles. Your company cannot rest on its laurels as Microsoft appears to have done, for example in the mobile space as my colleague Brian Edwards pointed out recently. Create new things, share unusual ideas and push the limits so that you won’t be accused of being a sell-out. (more…)

Know when it’s time to hit the reset button

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Nothing lasts forever.  Not even cash cows.

In the fast moving technology world, standing still with old technology is a sure recipe for failure. Or as an old boss used to say, you can put lipstick on the pig, but it’s still a pig.

Unfortunately, there are way too many examples of companies that once were on top but failed to realize, until it was too late, that technology had marched on and their once groundbreaking, industry leading technology had become obsolete.  The tech industry is littered with examples of computing giants that bit the dust by resting on their laurels.

One that impacted me was Digital Equipment Corp.  While the movement toward open operating systems and PCs was in full swing, DEC chairman Ken Olsen called Unix “snake oil” and derided PCs as little more than toys.  That was until PC maker Compaq swallowed him up and shut down the DEC brand. (more…)


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