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MFG 2.0

A Parable Of Unscalable Growth

Remember the pre-Web era, back when desktops were just desktops and Bill Gates was just a millionaire? Well, I've returned to those dark days, ironically enough at this week's Microsoft Convergence 2007 conference.

What happened is pretty straightforward: 100 techies all checked in at once, each demanding a large share of limited bandwidth, all of which pushed the host hotel's IT service beyond its capacity to deliver even simple in-room internet access.

Like many annoyances they get blamed for, this frustrating situation is not really Microsoft's fault, but it does provide an instructive parable on two themes: one, be careful who you work with; and two, unplanned growth paired with unscalable technology can lose you customers (JetBlue, anyone?)

For instance, this week's presentations were filled with lots of exciting numbers from Microsoft partners and entrepreneurs about triple digit sales growth in single digit time, and that's great, but what happens when this flood of new customers starts eating all your bandwidth (and crying for more?) And what of your prior customers, who got you to where you stand now?

Even though I've had a frustrating week, I can't help but think about those poor unsuspecting customers that checked in the day before the Microsoft conference, happily surfing away until the tsunami of techies swept in and crashed the servers...

TAGS: Innovation
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