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Corporate Lunacy
Learn by example?

By: Mitchell Parks
(C) 1998 CompuThing Consulting

How has America, and corporate America for that matter, become so engulfed with the Windows platform when study after study clearly shows that the Macintosh platform increases Return On Investment, increases productivity, increases efficiency, is easier to troubleshoot, easier to use, has a lower cost of ownership, is nearly twice as fast, and has a much higher user-satisfaction rating? I know, because I lived it.

I am a former brokerage trader for Fidelity Investments of nearly 5 years, 3 of which were also as a PC support rep for their software/web products that allow electronic trading and monitoring of personal accounts.

I fought many, many department battles trying to get support for vocal Macintosh customers which fell upon amazingly deaf ears. Here are a few stories...

Ever wonder what happens to suggestions you leave with large corporations? Beginning in 1993, we began collecting a department level database of customer requests for support. Macintosh support requests by far, led the way with a total of 1300 names, addresses, and phones numbers of Mac users that requested notification when a Mac-solution became available. In late 1996, when we finally had a web-solution, this database simply fell by the wayside. In 1997, with special permission, I began to call back these customers who were extremely thankful (though some had already left to go to Charles Schwab because they DO have Macintosh software and support). I was able to notify about 500 people before I was ordered to stop and 'get back to helping Windows customers'.

A second, larger, corporate database called 'ValueNetwork' which was designed to handle hundreds of thousands of customer complaints/requests, amassed huge numbers requesting support of the Macintosh platform as well. In fact, from 1993-1997, in the category of electronic trading suggestions, more 'Macintosh support' was ALWAYS in the top 3! By the way, if you are a Fidelity customer and call Fidelity to make a suggestion and/or complaint, ValueNetwork is the database that is used.

Despite Fidelity 'promises' that a Macintosh version of our 'Fidelity On-Line Xpress' software was coming (Fidelity Mac-users will remember these promises year after year), it never came. Upper levels of management I'm sure were being swayed by the increasing market percentages of Windows PCs.

When we finally developed a workable solution on the web, the Macintosh never received qualified support on the electronic department floor...not a single Macintosh or knowledgeable Mac user! All approximately 120 reps use PCs and know little about Macs. So when a Mac user calls for support he or she is greeted with a usually well-meaning support rep, but one who is generally lost when it comes to anything Macintosh. If the Mac customer had enough assets (over $100,000) at Fidelity, or was boisterous enough, he or she would be escalated to a higher level PC Technician who did have a Mac but received little instruction on how to use it. Otherwise, the customer was simply informed that "we do not support Macintosh computers".

During this time, I personally wrote and presented several workable solutions to provide even a modicum of support for the Macintosh platform...easily under $10,000 in total investment. All were rejected. This from a company with 100s of billions of dollars of assets under management? I suspect Fidelity spends more money on those little coffee straw-stirrer thingies in a single month!

I cannot tell you the times as a PC support rep that a customer would have to call me for help when had they been using a Macintosh, would not have had to call me at all. To make matters worse, when customers had not even purchased a computer yet and were just looking for guidance on what to buy, I was not allowed to make any suggestions.

This is why the Windows platform has engulfed the nation...because knowledgeable people are often not allowed to, and more often do not take the initiative to, give new users guidance. In addition, large computer retailer's slightly-over-minimum-wage employees are taught to sell whatever is selling and have little regard for or knowledge of what is best for the consumer. The only reason the Windows platform has proliferated is because of consumer ignorance and corporate impotence. Not that the ignorance is a bad's not. The bad thing is the impotence...that knowledgeable people have not prevented consumers from making the same bad decisions over and over, but instead have taken the path of making an easy dollar.

I liken this tragedy to a crime against humanity. To know something will actually cause someone pain, suffering, and cost them money and not make effort to prevent them is lunacy and a crime against humanity!

Think I'm exaggerating? You haven't taken the thousands of Windows support calls that I have. Think these people aren't in pain? Have you PC users ever had to reformat your hard drive? reinstall Windows 95? even setup an internet connection on Windows 95? The Macintosh platform is designed from top to bottom to prevent mishaps. The Windows PC platform, on the other hand, often exposes the unwitting user to such mishaps.

New computer purchasers look to corporations like Fidelity Investments to determine what sort of computer they should purchase. Corporations have allowed themselves to submit to "groupthink" (a term from my graduate school years) and have become impudent and unable to think on their own...just as consumers, they 'do what everyone else is doing'. This is lunacy corporate America! After all costs (upfront and support) are boiled to a common denominator, using a Macintosh is much like paying 75 cents for a $1.00 or $468,000 for $625,000 (about a 25% cost savings). Would someone PLEASE argue this? But before you do, I suggest you spend a little time reviewing the studies and reports you will find at or in the Reference Section.

Yet Mac users won't tell you about their cost savings. What they will talk about instead is how much more productive and creative they are. And you know, that is more valuable to me as a consumer AND a businessman than cost savings.

Since working at Fidelity, I have opened my own computer purchase consulting firm, directly because of this proliferation of ignorance. I want to prevent consumers and businesses from continuing down an illogical and costly path.

You might think that this article is about 'how great the Macintosh platform is''s not. Believe me, if there was a better choice, I'd be the first. This article is about stopping the lunacy. Stop doing it America! Stop the masochism! STOP IT! Think Different. Geez...just Think!

For those upper-management corporate types at Fidelity Investments and other companies like them that have shown formidable dullness in the face consumer pleas and technology efficiency studies, I'd like to take the time to point out that all of those $35,000 per year Windows support representatives you pay for (after insurance, benefits, and overhead, that number balloons to $90,000 for Fidelity employees), could be reduced by 25-75% if your customers used Macintosh computers instead (dependent upon your business). This says nothing about what your internal savings would be if your company migrated to Macintosh systems. Do the math.

Fortunately, Apple's recent strong numbers, including an 8% increase in unit sales and even more powerful new computers are showing evidence of what has been termed by as 'reverse-migration'. Stalwart corporations are beginning to see the bottom-line benefits and are making a switch from the Windows platform to the Macintosh platform. This is only smart business and long overdue.


Created: 04/20/98
Updated: 11/09/02

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