“To succeed in business it is necessary to make others see things as you see them.”— John H. Patterson, 19th century industrialist and founder of National Cash Register Company (NCR). Patterson established one of the nation’s first sales training academies.
I’ve been reading the flak over Sunday’s New York Times piece on the brooding Google-Microsoft “rumble.” Like many others, I didn’t find the piece to be especially insightful — a declaration that the two largest companies in software will soon compete, in just one area of their respective billion-dollar businesses, isn’t a newsflash. And while a “Clash of the Titans” is always a great story, in this instance the soldiers haven’t exactly lobbed the heavy artillery yet. Prognostications aren’t as fun, or as useful to founders, as gritty accounts of battle. But I’ll look forward to reading those, in time.
I will say that what struck me about the piece was how ardent both Microsoft’s Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft’s business division, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt were in articulating their views of the world:
“In our view, yes,” Mr. Schmidt says. “It’s a 90-10 thing.” Inside the cloud resides “almost everything you do in a company…” Later he adds: “You’d be crazy to buy packaged software.”
to which Raikes shot back:
“It’s, of course, totally inaccurate compared with where the market is today and where the market is headed.” Microsoft’s competitive tracking of the corporate market, Raikes told The Times, finds little momentum for what [Google] portrays. “It is not in any way, shape or form close to what he is suggesting.”
Ok, so Google Docs has 1.6 million users. Microsoft Office has 500 million. The truth is, there will always be some customers who want to use Office and others (notably younger) who will be thrilled to compute in the “cloud” using Google. (I think The Times story focused too little on these distinctions in the marketplace.)
But then a friend reminded me. Schmidt and Raikes aren’t being stubborn, exactly. Their job is to advance their company’s vision of how the business landscape will evolve. This is an equal piece of making it all happen — one just about as important as the development of the products itself. Guy Kawasaki calls this evangelism. In other spheres, it’s called lobbying. It’s really all a form of marketing. As one late, great management guru used to say:
“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” — Peter F. Drucker
Remember to do them both, with equal vigor.