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Wed 20 Aug 2003
The Ultimate Business Machine Redux
Category : Commentary/TUBRedux.txt
The idea of the The Ultimate Business Machine works on three levels. On one level, it refers to the Mac, which I believe to be the ultimate business machine. You can use just this one machine to support the widest range of activities you are likely to find in the course of running a business. Don't think so? Think about Photoshop, the Office Suite, FreeHand, Keynote, Sound Studio, Maya, MySQL, Java, Apache, and of course sendmail.
I think the tide is turning for Apple and the Mac, and I believe they deserve all the recognition that they're starting to get from places like ComputerWorld (Mac Myths and IT), InfoWorld (see The Mac Observer's summary of the InfoWorld coverage), and even Robert X Cringely (from the Pulpit).
On another level, The Ultimate Business Machine refers to the way a business (or any business) ought to be run. Like a MacDonald's. Smoothly, efficiently, scaleable and cloneable. So that the owners don't have to be there all the time to make the business run.
To achieve that, you need to have good systems. And, since computer systems form a large part of those, you need to watch what you're doing here. As Cringely puts it, "Ideally, the IT department ought to recommend the best computer for the job, but more often than not, they recommend the best computer for the IT department's job." You need good computing tools to build the best businesses. If you're competing head-on with another company, it's possible you can come out ahead, using the Mac. Don't think so? Let's say, I'm helping a company set up a mail server, web server, e-commerce server, accounting system, etc, and I'm equipped with tools like the one-click Sendmail Enabler, DNS Enabler, etc. And the other guys are using the type-a-lot Linux and Windows systems. Guess who gets done first and so gets to spend more time looking into the business workflows and issues?
Finally, on the third level, the Ultimate Business Machine refers to the business I want to build. So it'll work even when I'm not there. And I would be in no position to give other people advice on how to run healthy, profitable businesses, if I run my own as a loss-making concern.
The enduring image I have in my mind is the one depicted by Michael E. Gerber in the E-Myth Revisited (why most small businesses don't work) - when he described the harried owner of a bakery shop, chained to her business, getting close to breakdown. I've lived through that horror. I'm reminded of that feeling again, these last couple of weeks. So, we've got to get back to building a machine of our own.
Put your Mac to Work