by Roopinder Tara, Tenlinks.com
Too often we are told by CAD vendors that we are being shown the best product ever. We understand that your products are better than everyone else’s -- that’s pride of ownership, and we get that. But when you say your new stuff replaces the old stuff -- which was just garbage, by the way -- we can’t believe anyone falls for this. And that’s a pet peeve.
The Conversation That Never Happened
I was seated at lunch with a few other journalists and a CEO, who, for reasons soon to be apparent, will remain unnamed. Normally, this is a great opportunity to learn more of the company, its direction, and the strategy. And maybe even get to know the person behind the title. I consider this one of the perks of the job.
This particular CEO is brash, chatty, and spontaneous. But just a few sentences into the conversation, Mr CEO spots me pretending to be a journalist, with my open reporter notebook being the clue. Just as he's ramping up to something juicy, he says the fateful words, “Now, this is all off the record.” Darn! Why not just fling my notebook against the wall?
So the rest of this conversation never happened, okay?
The company had been buying up other software companies. A few are related to its core competencies, but most of them, .not so much. The subject of an acquisition made a couple of years comes up.
“I don't know what we were thinking buying XXXX Corp. We thought we’d have the market by the--.” Short pause, as he scans for open notebooks. “But the people who should have bought it had no money.” Mr CEO proceeds to lambaste his entire product line in favor of the new one, of course.
“Basically, we were going nowhere. We weren’t getting any new customers. We had a a big cumbersome product. It was hard to use. It was expensive.” I am dying to record this, but cannot. No notebook, remember?
I want to blurt out. “Hey, wasn’t that the greatest product in the world when you showed it to us last year? Did you know this all along?” But the guy's on a roll. Plus, everyone at the table is being exceedingly polite, even enthusiastic in their acceptance of Mr CEO’s wisdom.
The Conversation That Is Never Reported
I've stopped listening now; the words in my head are drowning out the words in my ears. Why don't I call out this guy on his obvious and blatant contradictions. Basically, he admitted to defrauding us, telling us how great his software is one year, and then taking it all back the next.
Some of us may have passed on the CEO's glowing reports to our readers, though the ones who have been around the block passed off the comments as mere CEO bluster. Every year, we receive these claims, which are promptly withdrawn next year in favor of whatever is being presented on stage.
The tactic is as old as software, as old as marketing, probably. A formerly "perfect" product gets improved. We no longer acknowledge the irony, much less openly criticize or rebuke the messenger. To yell "Liar!” would be certain buzz kill.
Maybe it would be more refined to flip through the notebook, like they do in TV shows, looking through our reading glasses for the quote from last year: Ah yes, here it is. "Mr. CEO, did you not say last year that version X was the greatest product in the world?"
This is a scene that only plays out in my head.
[Reprinted by permission of CAD Insider.]