Branding and technology investments

Have you guys seen the top 10 branding disaster for 2010? Or, should I say so far in 2010!

At HP we had a CIO that use to say, that “every business decision triggers and IT event”!  A C level executive decides to implement a new procedure and somewhere down the line an IT guy will get a call to implement a new software.  (I always wondered why that is done after the fact and never during the reasoning process! Ahem, another post perhaps.)

I would like to propose that the inverse is also possible.  With every Technology failure, business repercussions will occur. Case in point, Take a look at the branding repercussions on The Daily Finance’s top 10 branding disasters here: Top10 Disasters

In order we have, BP, DELL, Adobe, Sony, Goldman Sachs, RIM, Nokia, Johnson & Johnson, Google and Toyota.

BP, well, I can’t argue with that one being at number one!  Every time CNN dispatches Anderson Cooper, either you just one the Nobel peace prize or your due for some serious worldwide punishing reporting.  In their case, it would appear that their brand has gone from 20Billion in January 2010 to 0$ in June 2010.  OUCH! A lot of coverage has been done, so I won’t go there, but, from a business continuity side, you hear of things like a lack of or barely existing disaster recovery plan.  Clearly, somebody will have some explaining to do.

Dell, their branding according to the Daily Finance has dropped 44%.  Although not the only reason for their drop but, did anyone there think that shipping 12 million computers with faulty electrical components would go unnoticed?  How much would have fixing the supply chain cost?  Could this have been avoided?

Adobe, OK, mostly egos here!

Sony, Sony, Sony, boy, I love their products!  My TV is a Sony, my computer screen is still a Trinitron, not for much longer though, it’s showing its age.  But, ask me what my 6 year old uses every day?  Sadly for Sony, it’s his DS with his favourite Mario game.  Ask me how he and I hang out? We bowl on the family Wii.  The PS3 is a great platform but a great brand and great technology can only carry you so far.  You need to keep on investing in R&D, and never stop understanding and researching your clients.  As much as it can be painful, and I have been there, keep on listening to the complaints.  Remember the Walkman, the original one that played tapes?  Did you know that the real name of this gizmo is portable audio cassette or tape?  I am always impressed when a brand enters the lingua franca.  Someone in marketing clearly did his job.  However, their MP3 efforts have been timorous and plagued with security flaws.  Could it be that as the kings of the analog world they did not understand the digital world or perhaps refused to face it?  Never underestimate resistance to change!

Goldman Sachs, no surprise there 38% drop.

Research in Motion, 36% drop.  That great Canadian company, so close to my heart.  I would like to add a personal  not here.  I don’t own a blackberry, it’s a corporate policy thing, but my wife always refer to chatting with her friends on the Blackberry network as “pin”.  it goes something like “I’ll pin you later”!  This leads me to believe that there is something going on here.  Now, I can still text to any phone, yes, but I am not part of that “elite” group. 😦

Nokia, Johnsons and Johnson, Google yes, Google, the inventors of the other great word, “Googled” as a synonym to searched all have gone through drops and at number 10 Toyota.  Toyota, great company, great products, but they stopped listening to their clients.  How can you manufacture a truck from Japan when the product, the Tundra, is only sold in foreign markets mainly the US?  And when you have technical issues, don’t hide face up to them.  It’s not a sign of weakness, if anything, it’s empathetic. (Fortune July 2010 , page 110)

In the end, with technology, you have to realize that you are dealing with mechanical parts.  Sooner or later, they will fail!  Some may fail less than others, but they eventually will.  They only thing between failure and success is resilience.  In other words, you can build procedures and architectures around critical parts to attenuate the failure of a component but, in the case of an extreme catastrophe, think of a reactor core meltdown or in BP’s term an Oil Rig explosion, you need to have a well-documented and have practiced your disaster recovery plan.  Part of that plan should also include a great communication plan.  Keeping people in the dark will only increase their angst.  Take a look at how the Aviation handles it.  When a failure occurs, they have a very methodical approach.  They dispatch a team of expert that study everything there is to know about the accident.  They try to reproduce it in a virtual world, and if they can figure out what happened data goes out to manufacturers so that airplanes can be retrofitted to avoid the condition that caused the crash.  Even in training, there is a saying among pilots that goes like this, “a superior pilot uses his superior knowledge to avoid situations that will require his superior skills”.

You should see your technological infrastructure costs as an investment that, with proper care, in the long run will return value to your brand, and that is something you can definitely bank on.

Samy Benzekry


About TheBenz

Corporate IT guy very interested in all matters that are high tech.
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