It was Christmas Eve and Bob NiCratchet was working at his small desk inside his tiny cubicle at Meager Systems, Inc. As the snow whirled outside the windows, Bob wondered if he was going to be able to see his family tonight or whether, as on so many nights before, he would simply slip under the covers long after everyone had gone to bed. If only Winfield Scrooge, CEO of Meager Systems, had not increased his sales quota 75% again, Bob could be home with his family making preparations for celebrating the holidays.
“NiCratchet, have you called everyone in your pipeline?” screamed Scrooge. Alas, Bob had not only called everyone in the pipeline but all of his customers converting this year have called him to report poor service. If only Scrooge would invest in more staff or allow a small salary increase so that qualified conversion staff could be hired.
“I’ll make 10 more calls, then call it a night so that I can be with my family on Christmas night,” Bob thought. This was a special night for Bob because Thin Tim, his hacker son, had been released from the juvenile home for an overnight visit with his family. But Christmas dinner would be leftovers because no commission money had come from Meager Systems this year.
Scrooge looked around the empty office while he counted the last of the month’s collections. “Another good month,” he said to himself. “Now if I can just get another 10 years from this legacy system without a total customer revolt. I’ll probably need to announce a few more products to keep the noise down, but I won’t deliver them for another two years. What a business — announce new products, sell them to existing customers, collect the cash and deliver at some undefined time in the future.”
Scrooge locked the door to the office, walked to his Lexus and drove to his luxury home overlooking the ocean. To celebrate the holidays, Scrooge had a few glasses of an excellent French Bordeaux. While reading the latest issue of GonzoBanker, Scrooge dozed off in his easy chair and began to dream.
In his dream he was visited by three ghosts: the ghost of technologies past, the ghost of current technology and the ghost of future technologies. He woke with a start, but then realized where he was and chuckled over the ridiculous ghostly dream. After another glass of wine, it was time for bed.
At the stroke of midnight, Scrooge suddenly awoke and saw an old man at the foot of his bed. The man said, “I am the Ghost of Technologies Past!”
“Out of my house!” cried Scrooge.
“No Winfield,” the ghost began, “together we are going to visit the technologies of the past.”
The Ghost of Technologies Past showed Scrooge the creation of the original bank systems. They were simple to create, offered little in terms of functionality, and did not play nice with other systems. Scrooge and many others had developed similar systems and sold them to many banks for much money. Scrooge’s customers begged for enhancements, but they were told the frammitz rods were difficult to adjust and changes were too expensive. So the customers suffered lower income, unhappy users and scarce information.
The Ghost of Technologies Past put his arm around Scrooge and pointed out how much his customers suffered while he prospered. As the ghost disappeared, he told Scrooge to expect a visit shortly from the Ghostess of Current Technology.
Within minutes, the ghostess appeared at the foot of Scrooge’s bed. She was decked out in an Armani suit and carried a Palm Pilot. “Winfield, I am the Ghostess of Current Technology,” she announced. “My role is to show you how much misery you have caused your current customers.”
The ghostess pushed a few buttons on her Palm Pilot and images began to appear before their eyes. “Winfield, you have taken your tired old legacy system, added a CIF and a GUI front end, and are selling it as a client/server system,” she accused. “You have even taken your call center product, called it CRM and sold it to unsuspecting customers. Let me show you how confused they are.”
The Palm Pilot image dissolved and a new image appeared of a customer service representative with a bank customer. “Let me pull up your account,” said the CSR. “I see you are an ‘A’ customer. Would you like to buy a CD?”
Abruptly, the customer stood up and left. “If we could only get good information our customer would not walk out,” lamented the CSR.
“See Winfield, you are selling integration, CRM and sales tools, but it is all an overstatement of your ability to deliver,” the ghostess said. “Your systems don’t actually work together, information must be manually entered many times, and mistakes happen. Your customers continue to pay more money for these features, and you still don’t deliver a workable solution. Your customers continue to suffer low income, unhappy users and poor information while you prosper.“
With a stern expression, the ghostess and her Palm Pilot disappeared.
Within minutes, a young man appeared at the foot of Scrooge’s bed. “I am the Ghost of Future Technologies,” the young man said. “I am going to show your future in the industry.” The ghost snapped his fingers and a large plasma screen appeared on the wall.
A Wall Street Journal headline blared, “Meager Systems declares bankruptcy.” The story reported: “Large bank system supplier has collapsed amid controversy over failed promises. Thousands of customers bought into the promise of tight integration, best-of-breed choices, middleware messaging and perfect information. Winfield Scrooge, CEO of Meager Systems, is under Congressional investigation. Indictments are expected, and many bank failures are foreseen on the horizon.”
Scrooge was shocked. “You mean I caused all of this?” he asked.
“Yes, Winfield, your continued promises and lack of delivery finally catch up with you,” said the Ghost of Future Technologies. “Both you and your customers will suffer as a result of your actions.”
“No, no, I can’t have this happen,” wailed Scrooge. “What must I do to make amends?”
The ghost said: “You have little time Winfield, but you can make this right. Just follow these steps.” And here is what he told Scrooge to do:
“I will, I will!” cried Scrooge. He jumped out of bed, threw on his clothes and rushed into the office. There he called Bob NiCratchet and asked him to come over right away. When Bob walked into Scrooge’s office, to his amazement he was warmly greeted and welcomed.
“Bob, I want you to know how important you are to our future,” Scrooge said. “Take this bonus check and have a wonderful holiday with your family. When you return next year, we are going to redesign Meager Systems!”
Scrooge sat back in his chair and looked out his window. The spreadsheet on his PC detailed how he could make Meager Systems more successful with satisfied customers, no failed promises and happy employees. He smiled to himself as he anticipated the first happy holiday season in years. -caf