Archive for December, 2008

brand loyalty in a top level domain

December 29th, 2008 1 comment

There has always been a certain amount of distinction about using a .com address over any other domain name on the internet. Although companies anywhere in the world can register .com domains, it has been historically challenging for other countries to have easy access to the United States based registrars in order to do so. As a result, companies around the world, perhaps not with the US based operations, have setup and established their domain based on country code registration instead.

There is no reason that a company with offices around the world should not or could not utilize a single top level domain to route email for the entire company. After all, that is what the .com domain was intended for. I used to think that it was ridiculous that a company I worked for didn’t have a single domain, and always considered it the best path to have one setup.
While we were busy establishing country code specific domain names, and scrambling to setup our offices around the world, something happened. It turns out that we weren’t the only ones in this predicament. It turns out that our friends down the road were doing the same thing. As we were setting up our shop in Spain with a .es address, so were our friends in other companies in Spain.

Standing in the streets of Scotland

Standing in the streets of Scotland

I didn’t notice it much until I went on our honeymoon last year. We went through England, Scotland and Ireland, and it was the first time I was hard pressed to find a .com address on anything. While I blamed the fact that it was difficult for the smaller local shops to get a .com address, I saw something else happen. The country code based top level domain became a source of pride among those who had it. Talking with people on our honeymoon, it was clear that this pride resounds stronger in certain regions. Camaraderie has brought a strong brand loyalty to the use of that domain with a local country code. Stop somebody in Ireland and ask them whom they would rather do business with, and it is pretty clear where their loyalty lies. Watch how many people in Scotland will embrace a .sco domain, which has been in development for years.

Is there a good time to revert everybody back to a .com address if your company already has a multitude of country code based addresses? More importantly should you? I think the day of pushing everybody into one address is gone. Enable your local users to be able to use the .com address, but let them decide if it should be their primary published address. Use technology to empower your local offices to lean onto these resources, but allow them to establish that local brand loyalty they may need to conduct their business.

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the grass may be greener in school

December 19th, 2008 No comments

My attraction of going back to school is growing. That is an odd statement for somebody who spent almost nine years of evening classes to get a bachelors degree in Information Technologies. Nine years is a long time. The curriculum itself changed so many times while I was there, that I was able to choose among a plethora of new courses off of my traditional course path. I certainly didn’t take the easy path to the end, and wanted to make sure I squeezed as much as I could with my time there.

At first I thought it was the thought of knowledge itself drawing me back. Perhaps I am missing something that would help me more than what I have now. I know the curriculum continued to change without me around and that there is a whole new plate of classes to take.

I don’t need any more technology courses. What I miss is the ideology of being in an environment where you are surrounded by people who understand how the process works. I miss people knowing certain things as fact. Knowing nobody would actually question why things should be done, only focusing on the how. You see it is a lot more work to be in a system that doesn’t want to be helped.

If you are going to school for IT now, you will be given this great ability to be able to ease the pain and suffering of others. You will be able to deliver the technology they need which can truly empower them to work better. Unfortunately this ability comes with a curse.

The curse is that you won’t be able to use this power, because the system isn’t quite ready to accept your help. The curse is that you will have to watch the company you swore to protect, take the most difficult path imaginable to come to understand what you already know only after failing time after time again.

You will be asked to be involved, but it will be too late to save them. They will choose software without using a software development process, but it will be too late. Within seconds you will recognize not only where it will fail, but see what steps they could have done along the way to prevent how they got this far off course. Now if you tell them it has already failed you will be branded a traitor, written up for not being a team player and never approached with any level of trust again.

The education I had at RIT was excellent. Any technical class I absorbed like a sponge and I found myself finding value in those classes that first time students were sleeping through. It turned out that those classes like, needs assessment, persuasion and even human factors would add more value than you could imagine. What they don’t teach you is that you may have to help those who don’t want your help. They don’t teach you how to persevere when you are pushed away.

I look back to school and remember how much nicer it was, which creates that longing for me to return. While it is attractive, it is not where I need to be, for I am needed here.

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The Milestone Revival

December 13th, 2008 No comments

Neil Hair

Dr. Neil Hair

This week was one of the most interesting work weeks I have had in a long time. It was not a bad week; after all it has inspired me to resurrect my website after many years of being offline. It did not change how I work, but certainly offered some different perspectives for how management could perceive what I do. Any time I am able to chip away at my role in the company, it becomes a good week.

The week before the Rotork Christmas party in Rochester typically marks the longest, most stressful week of the year for the IT department. Every salesman around the country comes into Rochester for meetings, conveniently scheduled so they can enjoy the holiday party at the end of the week.

The stress comes from being the most demeaning weeks for any IT professional in this position. Put away those projects that nobody else can comprehend, and field difficult questions such as “why is my email inbox full”, knowing that you walked them through the exact same steps of email archiving one year ago and knowing you will be repeating this groundhog day scenario at the end of next year. The real balance is trying not to fall into a Nick Burns from Saturday Night Live impersonation. You realize people will stop asking for help if they think you are inferring that they should have known something already. Compounded with the fact that we have added over 40% more people to support our growth over the past 3 years, the week becomes one of dread before it even begins.

Enter Dr. Neil Hair, a marketing professor at RIT to throw me a bone near the end of the week, and to pull me out of a mental slump. Neil came in as a guest speaker this week to present a lecture on Personal Branding, in the Age of Web 3.0. This was a very progressive topic for a 51 year old engineering company in a room full of large tie wearing salesmen, whom had no idea it was coming. I was actually surprised it made it past the big tie in the front office as an approved topic, but very grateful it did.

Stereotypes have been the hardest obstacle to overcome for myself, having been in the company for so long. There is nothing more valuable than having somebody already revered as a professional, come in and explain something that you already know as “matter of fact”. The fact that Neil was able to grab the audience’s attention and hold it for so long, on a subject of technology is a testament to his teaching abilities.

I used to volunteer my lunch hour once a week to cover trends in IT and technology, which was open for anybody to attend. In March of 2007 I held a class on social networking, and referred to how was already starting to apply to business. I had to actually setup my own Facebook account, in order to teach the class that year. I believe 8 people showed up, none of which were from management.

Less that two years later, having a room full of management and middle management hearing the message in a way they can understand it, was an invaluable step for the growth of our company. That being said, I heard people who dismissed the notion and still think it was a line of BS. At least they listened to the message and with Neil serving me up a favor, has painted a picture that I may know something about it. I am still working to convince people we had never met.


Whether you embrace the concept or not will be irrelevant in a few years, as it is happening either way. The youth of today are more connected and more social than we ever were. Only because we don’t understand how they can perceive being connected on a web page, rather than in person or on a phone, doesn’t mean that they aren’t more connected.

Take a look at your own company and focus on your ability to retain younger employees in the past year or two, and the year to come. Our turnover rate has increased significantly with a dependency on age group as a baseline. Eventually those potential employees will be potential customers, and the eventually is happening faster than you think. Whether you choose to ignore it will define what type of company you want to become, and whom you want to attack to work for you.

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