When are companies like celebrities? 
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When are companies like celebrities? 

By Jon Castelhano, CIO Advisor


Isn't it just crazy how some celebrities work all their lives to become larger than life and then after they get there, things seem to fall apart? It becomes trendy to dislike them at a point, their decision-making skills go out the window, they start believing in their own persona, or they relieve themselves in mop buckets and spit on people, allegedly, (sorry Beiber fans). That is when a good publicist steps in and cleans things up. If the situation is completely out of control an entire team will go to work recreating an entirely new image for the person.

It may be a bit of a stretch to compare celebrities to companies, but I can't help but see some similarities at times between the two. They start small and many grow quickly to what seems like a larger-than-life company that can't do anything wrong. But give it enough time and there will be some backlash or their product lines stay the same for so long that disruptive innovation is not a priority. I am not an expert on Blackberry history, but it seems like a good example of a powerhouse that had to play catch up in a market that quickly passed them by, and it seems like their clientele focus stayed too narrow. I am still a huge fan of Blackberry and its influence on messaging and e-mail use on a mobile device, but the name isn't on my radar when thinking about a new phone.

Microsoft restructure
When Microsoft recently made news with its big restructure plan, I couldn't help but think of the larger-than-life celebrity that became too big and then starting making questionable decisions. Ballmer seems committed to creating something that is more collaborative and focused, but is the direction a catch-up approach or create game changers one that will put Microsoft back on top as an innovative powerhouse? If they decide to keep throwing Hail Mary passes like giving away 10,000 Surface tablets at ISTE this year, I am not sure they are going to reconnect with their audience.

Bring it around
So how does it all apply to the local IT shop? I think it is rather simple: Do not become too comfortable with the service you are providing and become something larger than life. When you become complacent and feel there is nothing that you can improve upon, the backlash will begin. Continue to look for ways to innovate and ask your customers for feedback on your service, and please—stay away from mop buckets.

Jon Castelhano is director of technology for Apache Junction USD in Arizona. This blog is cross posted on his blog, This and That.