BritBreak's IT director Mike Rapton held an unexpected breakfast meeting this morning. There's been a hitch with the MD's diary. He has taken an unexpected golfing trip, and as we can't spend lots of money on the PC Centre without Sir Sidney's visible backing, we've had to delay the opening. Rapton now wants a fast, exciting deliverable, something to get the customer base saying, "Aren't those IT people wonderful? What would we do without them?" Yes, it's time once more for the directors' remuneration assessment. Rapton asked for suggestions. Outspoken DP manager Arnold Potter went first. "We need a delivery improvement programme, featuring a structured methodology and a development framework. With a DIP to implement SM within a DF, we're bound to impress the punters." "VG, Arnold," said Rapton. "But it won't set their hearts on fire, will it? Not many thrills there." "I'd find it thrilling," muttered Potter. Fiona Rhees, the desktop manager, raised her eyebrows. "Perhaps we should find a new communications vehicle. Last time we did a survey, most of our customers considered IT distant and uncommunicative. How about a video? Or a tape to play in the car?" "How about a computer game, where they could take out their frustration by shooting down your helpdesk staff?" muttered Potter. "Or maybe they could shoot programmers," responded Fiona. "The survey identified them as most unfriendly." "Children, children!" Rapton broke in. "A tape is a good idea, but it will take too long to produce. We need a deliverable in days." "Ahem." It was Brian Finlay, the network manager. "Why not equip an entire branch with network computers? They'll be thrilled by having the latest technology, and the rest of the company will be impressed by all the money we're saving." "Hmm," said Rapton. "Apart from the fact that we are the only ones who like NCs, because we get our own back on those smug bastards who flaunt their independence, it would actually cost money to replace PCs. Anyway, what would they run on them?" "Lotus and Corel both have office suites in beta," replied Finlay. "And both running late. No, we can't afford to back that horse yet." There was a long pause. I judged that the time was right to contribute. "There is one possibility," I said. Everyone looked up. "We want to impress, right? Why not do something the customers actually want." "I'm sorry?" Potter looked worried. "I don't quite follow you." "That's what we have been talking about isn't it?" said Rapton. "No, no. We've been talking about what the business wants, which is quite different. Let's take a lesson out of McDonald's book. Each time they ring the helpline, each time they get a new PC or use an IT department service, they get an instant win scratch card. Bugger the business, it's a matter of what they can get for themselves." And no one could argue with that.
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