In a popular movie out this month, the main character is on a quest that's considered foolish. She is looking for signs of extraterrestrial life in a project called SETI, celebrated in the movie "Contact." Our hero is told she will condemn herself to a wasted career by seeking contact with another civilization across the vast emptiness of space. That might be the way some of our subscribers feel when they say they'd rather work with an HP 3000 than any other computer.
Our readers who hold this belief are on as lonely a mission as anybody in SETI ever was. HP has told them, and us, that being 3000-centric is a poor business choice for their IT strategy. Those customers hold a different view than HP's marketing department, which is busy with opportunities to complicate their lives with choices less stable, less secure but ever so much more popular. Meanwhile, in companies across the HP 3000 installed base, customers listen for signs of advanced management: one that uses a simple approach of conserving and building on the success of past technology achievements.
Because they are listening, these customers are not speaking up to make contact with HP. Some don't even pay for support anymore, for their systems are so reliable they haven't caused a worry in years, literally. They don't go to conferences, don't post messages on the Internet, and don't make their wishes known. They don't have wishes, yet. They do expect HP to solve the problems they might encounter in the future, because it always did in the past, with HP 3000 solutions.
Then something happens to their company -- an acquisition or merger, a new product line, a new manager. They need something new in their computer strategy. They look for that solution as the first bit of contact with HP and its suppliers in many years. Sometimes what they need isn't there, because no one heard from them before the need arose.
There is an opportunity this month to make contact, to be heard, to journey to the heart of HP's computing universe. That's heart as in spirit, not the center of activity. It's going on at HP World, where a few thousand experts, engineers and managers are gathering to share what they know about HP systems. The HP 3000 is only a part of the party on Navy Pier by now, but its customers are the founders of that feast. In large part they are responsible for HP's success in business computing -- along with the profits behind HP printer cartridges.
You can leave an imprint of your own this month and make contact with HP. It's a company made of many individuals thinking for themselves, not a by-the-book entity where one opinion serves for all. We'd urge you to be at HP World this month if you care about the HP 3000, but you're probably already on your way if you're going. We'll see you there, in the sessions led by MPE experts and the roundtables and plenary speeches where promises get made, and out on the show floor where we find solutions and each other.
But if you're not going, make contact any way you can with HP. Tell your supplier and its partners that having a good set of solutions for MPE/iX is just as important as ever. We don't ever expect HP to become 3000-centric again. But respecting the customers who choose that path -- well, that's something we'd like hear again from our favorite vendor. Experiment to see who's listening. Make contact and give HP another set of truths from the heart of its customer base.
|-- Ron Seybold|