Homepage: Playing mind games

Homepage: Playing mind games

Having come this close to choking on my scrumptious chicken breast lunch after witnessing the birth of yet another marketer's wet dream of a neologism, I couldn't help but devote a column to these trend-setters.

The sickening moment came just as I was about to soak up the last skerrick of sauce with a tender poultry morsel.

"Futuresourcing," the Compaq Services exec bellowed as he attempted to describe in a nutshell just how the PC vendor-cum-services-cum-outsourcing player is attempting to differentiate itself from the glamour boys of the services/outsourcing market, including IBM GSA, EDS and CSC.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Just when it seemed the services/outsourcing market had developed complete immunity from the dreaded "acronymitis", here we were being plunged back into the depths of marketing mediocrity.

The Compaq exec proceeded to explain exactly how this grand futuresourcing philosophy would win over the hearts and minds of customers and partners and propel the organisation into services stardom.

On the surface, the gist of his spiel seemed clear. As part of a commitment to its customers, Compaq would constantly scour the market for technologies and services that it could build into a customer's network even if they weren't looking that far ahead.

You have to give Compaq Services credit for looking after the customer's best interests by trying to make technology work for the business, but surely it has overdone it with futuresourcing.

For most of the serious competitors in this market the intricacies of outsourcing, such as packaged service offerings, are only just beginning to evolve. Even the Compaq Services execs admitted that the organisation has plenty of work to do just to satisfy basic outsourcing/services requirements. So why all the hullabaloo about futuresourcing?

Compaq Services, like every other Australian vendor, outsourcer or service provider, is constantly searching for the next "big thing" that will catapult it into the hearts, minds and wallets of existing and potential customers. I don't blame them. Competition for multimillion-dollar tenders and contracts at the high end is cutthroat and every player has identical technology stories to tell. The real litmus test is how these organisations can tailor their technology offerings using catch-phrases and buzz-words to reflect the future business needs of the customer.

You only have to look at the killing IBM made with its "e-business" spin on the whole e-commerce concept. While everyone was trying to work out what the hell it was all about, IBM touted e-business as the way to connect and trade with partners. Surprise, surprise the plan worked a treat to the extent that e-business became synonymous with e-commerce.

Can futuresourcing be another e-business? I have my reservations.

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