There has been a lot of discussion about boxing over here lately. You may have noticed that a recent fight, which cost an outrageous $54.95 to watch on pay-per-view, ended in bizarre fashion, thus fitting in perfectly with its venue ? Las Vegas.
But even before the romantic Holyfield versus Tyson earlobe-nibbling incident swallowed all the news coverage, there had been some narrow points decisions where controversy has ruled, reigned and dominated in the way that only controversy really can.
Outside the professional arena, scoring in amateur boxing has been controlled for a while now by computer to avoid the problems of biased judges. The system was bought in after the Seoul Olympics, where a local boxer won the gold medal after clearly losing the fight.
They say here that computers can never be wrong ? ask Garry Kasparov ? but two weeks ago a computer gave a points decision and the gold medal to an Italian boxer at the Mediterranean Games. His Algerian opponent protested and a committee reversed the decision, saying it was ?a flagrant malfunction of the computerised result?. But surely the Italians could not have influenced the computer to let their man win? Where were the games held? Rome, of course. Hmmm.
It was interesting to read about last week?s dealing between Northamber and Advanced Logic Research (ALR), when Northamber returned its entire range of ALR stock to the manufacturer. The reasons behind this are unclear, but it seems a strange coincidence that it comes at the same time as ALR?s sell-out to direct vendor Gateway 2000. So is this about price protection, or just the whim of the distributor?
PC Dealer could speculate about Northamber?s secret reasons, but one thing is clear. Northamber chairman David Phillips does exactly what he likes, and always has done since he founded the distributor. He hates to spend money unnecessarily and it is also the distributor?s financial year-end, when Phillips would especially hate to waste cash. But if he has to write off a little to make a point ? by off-loading ALR kit because Gateway has bought the firm or he is unhappy about Northamber?s deal with ALR ? he will.
Phillips? strategy has made Northamber competitive in the face of huge competitors.
I recently went to a project leadership conference over here, packed full of IT project managers. This was not quite as bad as it sounds, despite the very dull style and content adopted by many of the speakers at the event. One exception came from the construction industry in the shape of Andrew Gay, managing director of Trafalgar House. He is the sort of chap who likes rugby and gets his point across in a very certain manner; he even used a hammer and nails for props to illustrate his words with force. He says what he likes and, I imagine, he likes what he says.
Logically, getting his point across to the largely US audience would be tough because he is from outside the industry and from another country. He didn?t help matters by telling an audience full of consultants that he thinks consultants are parasites that should be struck down by God. At the climax of his speech he said IT has too much jargon.
I liked what he said, even if the rest of the audience didn?t, because we do use too many abbreviations and too much jargon. If only he could have made that point to the US. The moral of the story is: when in Rome, swear as the Romans do.
Friends in deed
I was once told by insiders that Siemens Nixdorf (SNI) wanted a Computacenter contract about 18 months ago and I scoffed at the idea, because the manufacturer sold direct. But after a long process, a formal deal between the two was finally signed just days ago.
The German giant wants the chance to sell through the biggest and best resellers in the country, and the jewel in its channel crown is Computacenter. SNI is celebrating, but its sales will not rise instantly just because it has a contract. It?s all about who you know.
The right staff
SNI?s technology is not the most important factor. As Microsoft dominates the software industry with products which are not world-beaters in technical terms and are not the cheapest, SNI is not going to set the industry on fire with its boxes or even its prices. PCs and servers are commodities now, so marketing and deals are more important than the best technology or the cheapest prices these days and it?s all about who you know. SNI has realised it will sell kit if it knows the right people.
You would probably think that a deal with Computacenter?s management is a deal with the right people. SNI has proved it wants to sell indirect by moving away from its unsuccessful direct model in just 18 months which has sealed the contract for it. Now it has just one problem ? how to convince Computacenter?s sales staff that know nothing about it to stop pushing kit from all the reseller?s other big vendors and start selling SNI. Computacenter?s management are not the right people ? its sales staff are.
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