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Cheers all the way folks!

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DQW Bureau
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In the nearly two years of writing for this column, I must have covered topics covering technology, marketing, strategy, organization development, business philosophy, and many subjects of current interest. I hope that the readers of this column would have found it enjoyable reading, and hopefully thought provoking too. I must admit that these have been two very invigorating years of introspection for me. In this fast paced business environment, you do not get too much time to yourself and to reflect seriously on what is happening around you. I have been extremely fortunate.

Of course, most of it has been one sided. And till now you have been at the receiving end! It would be great to hear from you too. Not just to know what you feel about what is being written, but also about other things you feel strongly about. To make for this two-way dialogue, I am sharing with you my email address (see sign-off space at the end of the article.)

So much for Sumit's Sermons! There need to be other reasons for cheer too. But that is something where everyone needs to find his own way out. Like Sun Microsystems, which is happily discovering a new kind of marketing technique - the guerilla warfare, and trying its best to vanquish rivals IBM, HP (sad that Compaq will not figure any more), and Microsoft. (Seems like no body wants to fight a straight war these days - even real ones.)

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Not surprising, that! These are the days of focused engagements. So the American forces seek out specific targets and bomb them. Then they talk of commando type operations rather than a conventional operation. Even India and Pakistan had limited their operations to Kargil. No wonder that industry should take cues from the masters at the game!

I guess Microsoft won't be overly bothered with Sun's limited engagement strategy. For one, this strategy is actually nothing new. Sun has never really played in the mass market the way some others do. It is just that the dotcom boom catapulted Sun's sales like never before and brought them a lot of Sunshine. So all this talk couldn't possibly affect Microsoft. They will find ways of expanding their markets with new products (or old products in new garbs!)

It may be interesting to delve into the reasons why Microsoft is able to achieve such a phenomenal pace in introducing new avatars of old products. If you notice, it hasn't really ever bothered too much about criticism about plagiarism. Its agenda is simple and straightforward. 'Don't keep waiting endlessly for inspiration and original ideas till kingdom come! Don't let ego prevent you from picking up a good idea and taking it forward.'

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Its approach is equally simple. Start at the mass level and work your way up. So it picks up good ideas from wherever they may be available, and demystifies them by creating products that are simpler to handle and understand. It is a master at understanding the marketing perspective of logical customer entry points. So it focuses on acquiring customers at that level and tries to take them along as they grow. Once in a while it hits a road bump, as a few customers want to move faster than it can take them. So it knows it will lose a couple of them to the likes of Sun. Well, you can't win 'em all, can you? So like Sun, Microsoft too has reasons to remain cheerful! In fact, I really envy them. They will go and hit you under the belt without any qualms, and then apologize with aplomb with equal nonchalance! (Remember Novell!). See, you can find enough cheer in the world if you set out to find

'em!

Looking for more? Well, there is plenty. HP is happy having taken over Compaq. (Compaq doesn't exist anymore, so we won't bother too much about the state of the dead!) And Dell and IBM (as well as Sun) are even happier that HP has taken over Compaq. So while HP is happily looking inward trying to sort out its new acquisition, Dell, IBM and Sun can happily put in all efforts to steal a march over it. (Happiness abounds, doesn't it?)

John Chambers of Cisco, of course, is happy that he doesn't make mistakes like HP does. He is open about admitting that he doesn't know how to handle such mega mergers and the cultural issues these entail. (Something I had voiced in my article 'Mergers and cultural compatibility' on Compaq's acquisition of Digital. Gives me reason to be happy too, doesn't it?)


Intel is hardly ever known to be unhappy. It only decides to be paranoid once in a while! Oracle, I guess is pretty happy too.

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So are people like SAP with the renewed industry interest in ERP. Even Indian majors are happy. Look at Infosys and TCS. So who is unhappy? And why this gloom?

Happiness then is truly a state of mind. You can psyche yourself to be happy, and you can psyche yourself to be unhappy. Just because America is at war, is no reason to psyche yourself negatively. It's time the world learnt to look at America for what it is - another nation with people like you and I, with real feelings, fears and apprehensions.

For all the talk about logic we haven't yet learnt to treat issues independently on their merit. If America prides itself as the greatest nation on earth, it will have to demonstrate that it is capable of handling issues on their merit and not allow everything to get muddled around one single event. Till now, for all its tough talking, it has only managed to expose its soft underbelly. The sooner all of us understand this (including America), and learn to handle issues more maturely, the better for all of us. There may be hope still. So cheer up folks!

Sumit Sharma is VP, Microland, and author of the book titled 'The Corporate Circus'. These are his own views.

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