Subject: Re: Wal-mart drives software industry
From: Tom Lord <>
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 05:42:38 -0800 (PST)

   From: "Brian J. Fox" <>

   I'd like to point out that Ian expressed the opinions of his
   *customers*, and, in doing so, demonstrated that he knows how his
   customers think.

Actually, he expressed something about the decision making processes
in the complex organizations who are/were among his prospective
customers.  Unless you want to attribute the concept of thought to
corporations (you're not an AI geek are you?) you're oversimplifying
his post as excuse to add *emphasis* around the word *customer*.

      There's also a kind of grass-roots IT to approach indirectly: e.g. I
      know of a bunch of small restaurants that would benefit from more
      facile supply chain management.

   Someone would have to sell these resturants a solution -- something
   that solves a pain or need.  No matter what your speculation, you
   won't know what the customer wants until you talk to the customer and
   find out.  (And supply chain isn't solvable at the resturant.)

There's so many things wrong with that statement that I don't know
where to start.  The close observation of restaurants, including chats
with the purchasing decision makers is a minor hobby of mine.  Food
and all the channels of its distribution and transformation are among
the most important topics in the world and I take them very, very

      Selling to them individually wouldn't be a win for a big company,

   Smart & Final might be able to sell to this customer base -- that's
   their business:

To be clearer, won't be a big win for an FSB.  Yet were an FSB to
offer cool tools through the channel of Smart & Final, that could
indeed have impact if the price is low enough to generate impulse
purchases.  For slightly more expensive items or items requiring
changes in what are generally very fixed and very tightly tuned
processes, it's one on one sales to an audience that for the most part
is quite content with what they've got (though you have to
differentiate between middle-america and the avant-guard).  It's not
intractable, though -- there are trend setters, channels, progressive
customers, lots of churn ....

      Just generally, in more than one city I've visited or lived in,
      there's a local day-to-day economy that runs on early-20th century
      mechanisms.  Moreover, those mechanisms aren't working as well as
      they did in the early 20th century because the context has changed:
      the number of regional importers has dwindled, the old
      communications and transportation infrastructure disappeared,
      consumer habits have changed, and consequently harmful monopolies
      have become entrenched.  The stuff we think about doing on a global
      scale with 1000 big companies also makes sense about doing on a
      local scale with 1000 little companies.

   I don't disagree with your assessment that technology could be better
   used in many venues that we all see day-to-day.  But I urge you to
   understand the typical Mom & Pop by simply *talking* to them.

*Thanks* for the *tip*, duke, but I'm *way* ahead of you.

   Tomorrow, when you go about your business in the outside world, think
   of cool technical solutions for each shop that you go to, and talk to
   the owner or manager for a couple of minutes.  

That's just plain creepy.  The folks I know will just blow you off or
out and out lie to you and rightly so.