Don't let your mask slip if advocating Apple in business

Written by David Tebbutt, MacUser 10/90 item 01 - scanned

It is a sad fact of life that not everyone loves the Mac like you do. If they are computer users, it is probably because they have never taken the trouble to find out what makes the Mac special. If they are not computer users, then their reaction has nothing to do with the fact you are using a Mac - they would be puzzled whatever computer you used.

In the normal run of things, I suppose it does not matter what people think of your choice of computer. It does matter, though, when you are a keen Mac user and someone threatens to replace it with a PC or a PS/2. If you work for a large company, I think you may face this threat. I also believe that you can prevent it happening.

The problem exists because of the way strategic decisions relating to a company's personal computer activities are increasingly moving towards the centre of the company. Once upon a time, personal computers only affected the individuals using them. One user could obtain a machine, buy the software they needed - be it word processing, spreadsheets or whatever - and be in business.

Most computers were used to automate a previously manual task and, apart from time saving, did not greatly affect the working of the company. It may have helped achieve cost objectives but it did not necessarily affect strategic objectives.

Now, management are realising the potential computers offer for significant change. A marketing operation which previously made do with index cards would find it difficult to compete with modern database marketing systems.

One of the key resources in a company today is the information contained within its computer systems. A company which enables employees to access electronic information is bound to outperform one whose information is fragmented across isolated computers or, worse, paper records.

With this growing awareness, management are trying to get a handle on their information systems, perhaps for the first time. They are trying to see how the whole company can work together in pursuit of the company objectives, using the computer as the harmonising tool. Personal computers of various kinds can easily be turned into the delivery vehicles for getting this corporate information to the desktop.

By linking into networks and by linking the networks to mainframes or minicomputers, information can flow freely around the company.

A chief executive could theoretically pull up summary financial information and massage it at the desktop, turning it into performance graphs or comparisons of one year against another. A designer could haul out a design made months before and adapt it to a new function. A sales manager could access the payments and trading pattern of a company before deciding whether to send a threatening letter. All these things are possible once the company starts to link its machines.

The problem for a Mac user in a large company is that along with the connectivity comes pressure for standardisation. Suddenly the company discovers that supporting several different types of computers, and an even more varied range of software packages, is expensive.

Within three years or so, the management knows the existing machines will have completed their useful life and will probably be replaced. It is tempting for them to think in terms of a single product or single product type strategy. Once these decisions have been made, it will be too late. It is hard to stop a bandwagon once it is rolling.

My recommendation is that you make sure that the management knows, in some detail, why the Mac should make it to the approved list. To achieve this will require great restraint and guile on your part. For a start, you have to accept there are other computers and that people probably quite like them. You also have to accept that the Mac is not the answer to all the world's problems. It may be better to use a mainframe as a remote file store than to install hundreds of Mac IIci's. Accept the Mac is a system which you particularly like.

It suits your way of working. It makes you more productive than you would be with another type of computer and saves you hours whenever you buy a new application. It is one of the most connectable computers in the world, fitting in with minicomputers, mainframes and other personal computers from all sorts of manufacturers.

Argue your case calmly and rationally, emphasising cost savings, performance increases and connectivity. Do not, for goodness sake, let your mask slip to reveal the lurking evangelist. This way you will maximise the chance of staying with your favourite computer.