Selling a lifestyle that includes and uses personal computers, provides that computers are delivered as turn-key companions that are connected to a wide range of secure-only communications, personal and team productivity and entertainment services. Hardware as a Service [HasS] based computers are continually connected to proactive service, support and access to solutions which include specific solutions to business and personal information needs. HaaS based systems that underwrite a lifestyle that fully leverages digital technologies, sustain a connection between participants in such a lifestyle and those facilitating it - the computers and their networks simply provide the means, the points of access and the vehicles used. Windows Vista, and the ecosystem that Microsoft has built around it, provides the basis for building HaaS based computers. Apple doesn't and can't. Sun doesn't and can't. IBM doesn't and chose not to. Linux copies and may yet deliver the service.
I get asked a lot of questions and a lot of the questions I get asked are about how to grow a business where there is intense competition and little money available to communicate how a company's products and services are different. Marketing. It has a bad name and for the most part, it deserves it. So often marketing is used to share what might be, or should be rather than what is. Many companies are worried that a marketing campaign won't produce results and won't produce increased sales. Businesses are right to worry, but for the wrong reasons. The marketing isn't necessarily wrong, the products and services are. That's a tough bit of news for many companies to even begin to consider. To be fair, I asked myself the same questions about my own company and I embraced the answers about what we were doing and what follows below, is what we did to make a change - not only in our products, but across our entire approach to business in the technology sector.
Let's look at the personal computer as an example and not how to market it, but what to market - and that drives not the sale of computers, but the delivery and sale of hardware as a service [HaaS] - The Selling of a Lifestyle, which does result in the sale of computers.
For too long, the personal computer has been sold as an appliance and a commodity. The personal computer has been defined by its features, components and its price and none are apparently unique, compelling, or in any way personal. In so many cases, personal computers have evolved in negative ways - they have appeared to be less than secure - no matter what one does to secure them. They have devolved from intensely personal to intensely impersonal, ubiquitous appliances that frustrate as often as they serve.
For nearly as long, service in the context of the personal computer has been relegated to the lowest of priorities and treated as an event and cost that is best avoided and a necessary evil that leaves all involved with a bad taste in their mouths. Computer manufacturers have pushed service out and down to levels that rarely produce positive results - much less a well running computer.
Personal Computing is not about the machine - it is about the person!
The first thing we did was re-focus our attention on the person - the individual using the machine - the why of it and how they relate to others - be they people, or businesses and personal processes. We looked at every user we had. We looked at ourselves. We looked at what they did and what we did and we looked at what they needed and what caused them grief. We looked for all the friction - all the data points where there were collisions, slow-downs, and choke-points. Users, not competitor specifications, drove our products. We reasoned that if we extended the personal computer beyond its specifications and features, and into how it was used, integrated and sustained, that we'd end up producing a far better machine - regardless of what it looked like, or what features it had, or didn't.
By focusing on the person as both an individual and a member of not one, but many organizations and teams, we began to deliver not just computers, but intensely personal experiences - we had invited customers into a lifestyle where relevant information simply exists, or may be had in a few moments - we had brought customers into how we work and live. We had simply shared what we were doing and enjoying. This people centric focus opposite designing and building computers bought us time - time to develop new and more appealing products and new and more powerful services to connect them to. Profits and time were pumped back into not just systems, but the users who had joined us. The lifestyle we had invited customers into continued to grow in both richness and power. The results are computers that are companions and reflections of the people and lifestyles they are and lead. Personal computers are expressions, therefore - of the aspiring creature that owns and operates them.
People who use computers have things they want, but also things they do not want!
The lifestyle, enriched by Hardware as a Service [HaaS] has to be nearly as much about what it is not, as it is. People want email. People do not want SPAM. Period. People do want access to files. People do not want those files to be compromised or infested with mal-ware. Period. People want to freely exchange information and ideas. People do not want those ideas shared, or known to other than those of their own choosing. People want to be secure, but people do not want to feel caged, or limited or isolated. People want to feel as though they are accompanied - they do not want to feel dependent, or vulnerable.
Combining what computer users want and need with what they do not
Again, let's take a personal computer and to it we'll add what users want and take away from it what they do not want - then we'll deliver it and in the next segment, we'll define what one can do with it.
A personal computer nearly always ships with a mail client. End of story. The user is cast adrift and left to their own ends.
Let's take this one example and examine it as we deliver a HaaS based personal computer. We'll assume the computer owner is a member of a small company or organization of some kind.
A HaaS based personal computer has a mail client, too... BUT said mail client is securely connected to a hosted Exchange using Outlook Anywhere and sustains an RPC over HTTPS connection.
The user's system and email are delivered fully configured and ready for immediate use. All mail items, contacts, calendar items and tasks are exactly and fully migrated for them.
The user's email, contacts, calendar items, tasks and notes are always the same - no matter how many devices are connected and no matter where the user and said devices are located.
The user's email is always secure and only encrypted connections are ever allowed to its host network and servers.
The user's email is unlimited - no storage limits apply.
The user may have as many calendars and contacts as they wish and each of these is instantly synchronized with the user's phone.
The user's phone is set up for them and like its parent email, it is secure-only.
The user's mobile email is "Direct Push" enabled and arrives at the user's phone the moment it is received - no on and or off-line, or tethered sync'ing are ever required.
The user's mail account either never, or very rarely receives any SPAM messages at any time, and equally, the user rarely, if ever experiences a false positive.
All user anti-SPAM controls are granular and easy for the user to manage and apply personal settings.
All user email traffic is scanned and filtered for malicious traffic at least four times. No malicious traffic is allowed to reach the user's email account and or supporting systems.
After a period of approximately five (5) days, no SPAM is ever seen by the user - not even in default Junk E-Mail folders.
As new threats emerge, the user is required to take no action of any kind. Dedicated engineers and partners continually monitor and adjust systems in response to threats and threat trends.
Commercial Anti-Mal-Ware software is included with the delivered computer and is updated for the life of the computer [where EOL is assumed to be four full years from the date of purchase].
All mail items, calendars of unlimited numbers and contacts are continuously synchronized with online, secure-only Extranets.
The user, at a click, may connect and sustain a synchronized calendar created in Outlook, or an Extranet with the other.
Any calendar may be shared.
Any contacts list may be shared.
Custom Address Lists, [OL] and domains are supported.
Corresponding UCC SSL Certificates are supplied for the user and the company, or organization.
Any related document, and or document library may be shared with any other authorized user and users may be found from a common, searchable directory, which may be added to by the user.
The user's email is either, or may be [depending upon which phone system they use], fully integrated with Video, Voice and Data.
A secure-only Instant Messaging Client is included and provides immediate access to support engineers.
All of the user's email may be subject to whatever retention policies his company, or organization specifies.
All the user's email is backed up each day and may be recovered - this applies to any single item, or any group of them.
When the user needs assistance, the user may call one number and speak directly with the engineers who built the personal computer by hand and who built and support the servers delivering and sustaining mail.
The user may share the personal computer's desktop with remote engineers - regardless of network and without making adjustments to local or other firewalls.
The user may call any time of day or night and be cared for by the people who designed the computer - not some distant, or removed technician.
When the computer is delivered, the user is provided one on one training by the engineer that built and configured it.
Once deployed, the user is accompanied by the engineer throughout the life of the computer and the engineer, working with others, continues to support the user in the specific context of that user as they relate to their own needs and the needs of their company and or organization.
The above example illustrates only one HaaS based service attending a personal computer - electronic mail
As can be seen, there is quite a difference already, between a computer and a personal computer sold and supported with services baked into it - especially when the services exceed in performance and features a wide range of services users would otherwise have to find and perhaps configure on their own.
The value of a HaaS based computer is magnified when it is repeated. The value of people centric services based computers escalates dramatically when they are delivered in groups. Take a small business with twenty-five people and subject each of them to the HaaS model - benefits are immediate and profound. The value is even greater when one remembers that such a computer is sold with such services as part of its base price - there are no hidden costs.
Going beyond universal messaging
As compelling as messaging and related services are - as life and work-changing as they can be, they are not enough and they are only the beginning in a HaaS based personal computing model. Remember, we're building a personal computer that really does represent the a lifestyle - a digitally enhanced lifestyle.
A great many people would be more than happy with a personal computer delivered with the few services listed above. We weren't.
In the HaaS based computing model we began to sell, we added everything around the computer. We added the network, the managed network. We added backup and recovery services. We added applications development, integration and hosting. We added media and entertainment services. We added every single service one had asked for and then we added one more.
Deploying and Staying
So many personal computer companies hit and run. In a lifestyle company, one deploys and then stays - outside and out of sight - until they are called back into helpdo the next thing. What I mean by this is two-fold, remaining available and remaining aware. When one sells and builds products and services that support a lifestyle, one has to remain available at an instant and one has to remain aware of how businesses and people operate - how for example, a business earns its money.
So once the systems and tools are in place, the real work can begin. When technology companies and the engineers in them learn how people work and play, they can best devise solutions that support the users of their technologies. Those selling computers have to be there for their users and they have to learn how they make their money and how they spend their money. Each new need a customer has is a new opportunity - so HaaS based personal computers have to grow with the users of them.
There is a balance and it has to be maintained and often, HaaS based builders have to start slow, gain trust and respect and then be available. One can't push too hard and one does have to be simply supportive. By this I mean - leave the decision up to the user - unless the user asks you to make them.
Does Apple sell HaaS based computers?
No. Apple does market a lifestyle. If the goals were the same, Apple as a company would be judged to be smarter than mine. Apple wants users to love Apple. I want people to love the computers we make and I want the computers we make to give our users back enough time to love those that really do matter to them - their God, their families and their friends. One must say that as a marketing strategy, Apple's is amazing - it sells the perception of a lifestyle and it attaches enough service to its products to make it work. Apple's great marketing, selling the perception of a lifestyle, is brilliant and it is what is behind Apple's growth - not a bad Vista.
By the way, much of what I have written above is not possible on an Apple - the client OS, applications and tools do not exist and they cannot be scaled, or deployed easily and they cannot be managed centrally.
Vista the HaaS Versus The HaaS Not
Windows Vista and the vast ecosystem that Microsoft not only built, but shared with partners big and small [and tiny, like me], is what makes HaaS and the selling of a real lifestyle possible.
Windows Vista Ultimate
Microsoft Office 2007
Microsoft Office Communicator Client and Server
Windows Server 2003
Windows Server SharePoint Services
Microsoft SQL Server 2005
BrightStor ArcServe 11r
Visual Studio 2005
UCC SSL Certificate
Premium custom parts
Even better team mates