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OPINION

What Mitt Romney Could Have Learned from EMC’s Joe Tucci

We’ve had a couple of weeks to think about the election outcome, and both sides are positioning the results around the issues. This has become so divisive that there is a significant move by Texas to exit the United States and become a country.

I’ve spent some time looking at this, and the real reason the Republicans lost is that the Democrats used data analytics to win a race that by the numbers, they should have actually lost. However, by taking advantage of analytics, they were able to harvest donations more effectively, align with issues that people cared about more passionately, and get their voters out more successfully than their opponents.

In short, while Romney was positioned as the better manager, Obama’s campaign was better managed.

In the tech world, every large firm is becoming vertically integrated, but EMC stands as one of the few remaining examples of the old model, and it is performing better than most of its peers. It is doing this largely due to its own implementation of data analytics, and had Romney used the same approach that EMC’s CEO Joe Tucci does, he would have won.

I’ll focus on that this week and close with my product of the week: the electric Super Scooter from Current Motor, which I’ve been driving for the last couple of weeks. Oh, and this scooter was co-developed by Dell.

Winning or Losing Through Data Analytics

Big Data is the new analytics buzz term that every big company is pushing. Used properly, it can give you unmatched insight into your operations, into your customers, into your competitors, and into your environment.

Sun Tzu, the first great strategist to be published, said the general who knows himself and his opponent best will always win. Data analytics, done right, is the lever that can lift eventhe smallest company to success.

Now the problem with analytics is that it is actually very new, and few people are trained in how to do it right — and even fewer on how to use the results to win. In fact, work in this field over the last five years has been devoted mainly to building these tools and making them function correctly — not to training managers how to use them.

The other problem is that we are creatures of habit, which means we tend to do things the way we have always done them. Generally it is the new employees coming into a company who drive change through new technologies.

My generation drove PCs and client server computing into business; the current generation coming out of college is driving analytics.

How Romney Lost

This showcases how Romney actually lost. Both campaigns used data analytics heavily, but Obama used a vastly different approach. He brought a young team on board two years before the election to build an integrated data analytics department, hire analysts internally, and make sure not only that the system would put out accurate information, but also that the campaign would use that information effectively.

Romney outsourced this effort to two large firms, apparently paying far more than Obama for the effort. However, those firms didn’t understand politics, and the effort wasn’t integrated into the campaign management system. For starters, the numbers were unreliable. Worse, Romney’s campaign managers were inclined to use traditional, even more-unreliable sources to make decisions.

That is why at the end, the election confirmed Obama’s projections and was well off from Romney’s. Obama’s campaign not only had more accurate numbers. It also did a better job deploying its limited resources and turned what should have been a losing position into a winning one.

Tucci and EMC

I was at EMC last week and what I found was that even though EMC is not on the same path as most of its peers, the firm is better managed — and at the core of this was an early recognition of the power of analytics. EMC applied the tool internally first to better anticipate parts failures in its installed base. The results were so amazing, the company ended up buying Green Plum to build those results into a product.

EMC since realized it could use this same tool, much like Obama, did to instrument its customers, and it currently has them accurately classified into three categories: loyal; at-risk; and trapped.

The company now knows which customers to leave alone, because they are happy; which customers to resource because they are about to leave; and which customers need to be shown the value of their solutions so they don’t feel trapped. EMC can selectively target problems product by product and customer by customer.

In addition, it can monetize each customer so it knows which are the most valuable and which are unprofitable, allowing them to embrace the former more tightly and push the latter off to competitors. This is such a powerful tool that virtually every time it is disclosed to a customer, the customer wants EMC to help it deploy something similar.

Recently, the executive that created the solution, Jim Bampos, was shifted from driving the solution internally to selling it externally as a result of massive customer demand.

The real kicker is that EMC is about to be able to do the same analysis on competitors’ customers so that they can better target their sales people and avoid wasting time on customers that are loyal; capture customers that are at risk; and develop programs to free customers that feel trapped.

The reasons behind both of the latter groups’ complaints will be put into marketing programs to increase impact. Based on the stats, Oracle, which has the largest group of trapped customers, should be very worried.

One recent example of how this helped EMC competitively: The stats showcased that the trend toward offshore support to cut costs was stupid. It caused such high customer dissatisfaction, the money saved was a fraction of the potential lost sales, so Tucci’s team reversed this decision.

Many managers initially resented being forced to do something different, but once theyrealized it made them more successful, they became believers. Pat Gelsinger, one of the smartest guys in the technology segment — he currently runs VMware — immediately saw the value and became a huge supporter of the effort. If Intel, where he was one of the CEO contenders, had used a similar process, it would have been far more successful.

Wrapping Up: The Power of Analytics

I started out with a love of numbers, and for a good chunk of the time I was in IBM. I marveled at — and was frustrated by — how often executives in a firm that basically made massive calculators didn’t use them, to their eventual regret.

IBM fell into decline while I was there, largely because executive management wascompletely in the dark with regard to what was going on with customers and the market. At the time, IBM had a high percentage of very unhappy trapped customers and a very ineffective sales force due to some incredibly foolish compensation decisions.

Obama won an election that he should have lost, largely because he had better intelligence than Romney, which enabled him to better utilize the resources he had. EMC is using this same method to successfully buck the trend to go vertical, leading to moreloyal customers, stronger partnerships — it analyzes partners now, as well — and much stronger solutions.

In the end, it appears Sun Tzu was right, and intelligence is at the core of a winning strategy — and big data analytics is at the core of intelligence.

Product of the Week: Current Motor Super Scooter With Dell Technology

Product of the Week

What if a technology firm built a car? This used to be kind of a joke, with Bill Gates arguing that if Microsoft built cars they’d be flying by now, and the auto industry arguing that they’d likely crash often — which come to think of it, would be extremely problematic if they flew. Well, the first vehicle jointly developed by a tech company is in market, and I’ve had one on loan for a couple of weeks.

The Current Motor Super Scooter, jointly developed with Dell, is a ton of fun to drive, and I think it is a far more reasonable choice than an electric car at the moment. This is because scooters can use HOV lanes and work better in traffic –although electric vehicles suck at being freeway cruisers or long-distance vehicles. This is because they have short ranges; get better range the slower they go; don’t charge quickly; and there is as yet no charging infrastructure to replace gas stations.

Super Scooter

Current Motor Super Scooter

The ideal use is for commutes under 20 miles in traffic — otherwise known to a lot of us as the daily commute. As I think back, this scooter would have been far better than the motorcycles I owned when I was in school, because it provided better protection, was less likely to get me into trouble, and I wouldn’t have had to pay for gas. It wouldn’t have been much for dates, but then neither were the motorcycles.

My experience with the scooter has been amazing — and because it is silent, you not only enjoy what is going on around you more, you can better hear cars in your blind spots. I do miss having a radio, though.

It basically has a tablet as a dashboard, which means it can load apps for navigation, trip planning and other stuff. I wonder how long before someone figures out how to integrate an iPad? This also means that Current Motor can monitor the bike and see problems before you do, and that a built-in On Star-like feature is likely in its future. (It is connected to the cellular network.)

Would I buy one? Yes, but not likely the value one that I was loaned — they are going to switch me out for the performance version. This is because in California, speed limits are more like suggestions. At the bike’s 58 MPH top speed, I often have cars glued to my rear fender, which is a little troubling. The performance version has more range and a top speed closer to 70. Starting at US$10K, the bike isn’t cheap, but it is far cheaper than the only electric car I’d ever consider — the Tesla — which typically comes in closer to $80K, properly configured.

The Current Motor Super Scooter is an amazing bike. It actually got me riding again, I want one, and it is my product of the week.

Rob Enderle

Rob Enderle is a TechNewsWorld columnist and the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a consultancy that focuses on personal technology products and trends.

3 Comments

  • Yeah, would like to think it was because a) Paul Ryan was a nutcase, and b) their "plan" AM ounted to more of the same, "What Reagan, and both Bush did, to lay the foundation of deregulation, and bad investing, which led to the financial crisis in the first place." Some of us would like to see these people form their own new country, so they wouldn’t keep trying to shackle the rest of us with some crazy mix of theology, selective science, and delusional free market purity, all of which, at one point or other, has been tried before, without absolutely horrible results (leading to many laws/reforms/regulations in the US, and far, far, more of the same across Europe, many of whom, though you would never hear this in the US, weathered the financial crisis far better, despite being less religious, more socialist, and having vastly higher taxes. The ones still doing horribly now? Oddly, the ones implementing policies that echo what Romney/Ryan argued for here. Odd…

    • And.. Here comes the comments from people that think "socialist" means, "Really super rich people might have to pay the same taxes they did in the glory days of the 1950s, and without 5,000 loopholes and tax shelters, to help them avoid paying any of them at all!" I actually, on another thread, argued that while some level of balancing was ***necessary*** because the people cheating the system by doing nothing, and expecting reward are ***not*** the only bad actors and cheats, in the system, and you have to deal with the consequences of *all* kinds of cheats, not just the lazy people, therefor pure socialism was just flat impossible for humans.

      The problem with Romney/Ryan, is that they don’t believe, at all, in the other sort of cheaters. They actually believe in the same sort of aristocratic nonsense that, ironically, both Ayn Rand argued for, and which Nietzsche did too. In the latter case, he actually argued that Darwinism was a means to create "false equality", that courts shouldn’t try to treat all people as equal, at all, that the modern world was a warped and distorted fiction, invented by Christians, and that Democracy itself was, "The rise of socialism and the fall of those who should hold power".

      The only thing that is changed since the late 1800s is that the same, "rich people got rich **purely** because they are better than everyone else, and the rest of you people have (Nietzsche’s words) ‘a slave mentality’, is that most atheists denounce Randism as insane, while people like Ryan sound like they are contemporaries to Nietzsche himself, but denounce both Ayn Rand’s, and Nietzsche’s atheism. That parallels in their philosophies, and the Tea Party, are nauseating.

      But, this is hardly the first time we have seen people, discovering that no safe harbor of discredited ideas existing on the left, ran to the Republicans for safe haven. The last time that happened the Democrats did a 180 on social issues, and all of the racist, separatist, KKK types ran to the "traditional" Republicans, hoping for defense of their "long held rights, traditions, and beliefs". Sadly, all one has to do is look at some of the stupidity that still exists in the south over people of any color but white to see how "that" turned out for the party. Now.. Much of "libertarianism", and its aristocratic gibberish is being rejected, and where do they run – the Tea Party, and the Republicans. Wow, I could never have predicted…

      • Actually, I may have over stated that. They do believe in such "other" bad actors, its just that they are selfishly selective about who counts when such actors do something. I.e., if their business/lives are effected, that is a problem. If its not, or they are, themselves, say.. running Bain Capital, or the like, then there is no bad act taking place, and everyone else is at fault for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and not getting out of the way fast enough (it not being possible to get out of the way is, of course, either a lie, or a sign of laziness).

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