A Consolidated Industry.
I very much enjoyed [Dick Kaser's] "Thoughts on a Consolidated Industry" article [Information Today, February 2007]. It addresses something I've been concerned about for many years. Decades ago, when I was head of systems at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), I would often end briefings by reminding all to remember our raison d'etre, namely to meet the needs of our users (customers) as opposed to [doing] something we thought [met] their needs. One of the first decisions I made when I went to DTIC made the systems people mad because I assigned the leadership of the office automation project to the administrative staff because they better understood the needs.
Consolidation of the industry, as you point out, can lead to the distancing from understanding the needs of the using communities. Again, [this is] from my history. When I was in charge of buying computers for DLA, I had some representatives from a computer company visit me. They were from a unit whose responsibility was to purchase companies, whether computer oriented or not. Why? Because size matters to financial managers. One of my problems is that during a large portion of the '70s, '80s, and '90s (and even now), the Harvards and Whartons, etc. were producing MBAs schooled largely in financial management. Thus, profit and meeting the needs of the stockholders became the [principal] reason for being of many companies, not serving the customer and making a profit from this. To me, this is why there is far more innovation from smaller businesses than large ones. The distance from the customer widens with the size of the organization. This is, of course, mitigated somewhat when consolidation remains with companies like CSA that have been, and remain, grounded in meeting customer information needs.
Again, thanks for a wonderful article.
Formerly with DTIC--Defense
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