All that forecast snow that was supposed to bury the East Coast last week missed you and was dumped, instead, on my driveway and back yard near the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border. That nature herself decided to focus her wrath on my house (I promise to recycle more) rather than spread it out over the length of the coast was a lesson that Mr. Koogle and company at Yahoo should have learned but didnt.
Yahoo thought it could avoid the bad-news blizzard burying the dot-coms all around it by being as broad and bland as, say, your favorite national television network.
But if you are really going to be a success today, you had better focus on things you can do really well and stop trying to be all things to all people. When you are a mile wide and an inch deep, you just dont have the strength to sustain your bottom line during a downturn. The portal-without-a-purpose concept is quickly being pushed aside in favor of deeply focused portals that allow users to get the exact information they need, rather than browse through information that may not be relevant.
This need to focus on what you can do well rather than on what the consultant says is the next big thing is much in evidence.
Larry Ellison needs to focus on promoting the value of his database offerings rather than ranging all over the map from hosted applications to network computers.
Ted Waitt needs to focus on selling the attributes of those spotted-cow boxes rather than championing all those grandiose beyond-the-box initiatives.
And Microsoft, by far the leader in stuffing everything on the CD in hopes that users find something they like, has to be able to explain the benefits of moving to Office XP in 30 seconds rather than in 300 pages of documentation.
Maybe the XP folks should wander down the hall to talk with the BizTalk Server 2000 developers, who this week earned one of our coveted and rare Analysts Choice awards. It will be products such as the BizTalk server that allow companies to fully integrate their e-business operations and get the high-tech industry back on track.
As I dined with the winners of our recent eWeek eXcellence Awards, I realized that the common theme among them was their ability to produce products and services that were exactly right for the business issue being addressed. Rather than try to crowbar their products into every conceivable category in the hope that something would work, they produced solutions that fit users requirements. Not rocket science, but it is certainly refreshing to come across products that actually perform as advertised.
I had a lot of time to ponder the value of focus during my hours of shoveling out the snowy Kilimanjaro covering my car. Next time the forecast calls for snow, I hope the lesson is yours to learn.