Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Brisbane Board Meeting - Hooray!

The time had finally came. I flew up to Brisbane the day before the Board meeting.

I wanted to prepare. This was going to be an unhappy meeting for someone.

The day came and I got a cab over to their office. It was off Coronation Drive so the morning traffic was a struggle.

I arrived and went in. The Financial Controller was in my face almost from the moment I walked in. She wanted to know what I was going to tell the board.

I said “I’m going to give them my professional opinion on what I think is the best solution for this business”.

She was so arrogantly self-absorbed that she didn’t think for a moment that I might say something that wasn’t in agreement with her agenda.

We walked into the Boardroom and got introduced after a few minutes of pleasantries we sat down and the meeting started. The technology stuff was scheduled for the start so at least I didn’t have long to wait.

The man who started the company, I’ll call him Stavros, turned to me and said “What do you think of our new technology strategy?”

“I think its going to waste a lot of money and it won’t give you anything new or unique.”

The Financial Controller nearly burst her brain.

The Board was surprised.

“Look”, I said, “regardless of what you’ve been told, you will have to spend over $400,000 to execute this strategy and you will have no extra functionality. You’re spending that money just to replace everything with Windows machines. You won’t get anything extra to what you have now. You may have the money to throw at this, but, you can spend $400,000 on computers, or, you can spend $400,000 on something that’ll turn into profit.”

Everyone around the table thought about this for a moment.

The Financial Controller gave me the ‘look of death’. I think I was off her Christmas Card list for good.

She was about to launch into a tirade when she was cut off by Stavros. He asked me if using Windows everywhere was what all businesses did.

“A lot of business do. But its expensive. Let me explain.”

The Board nodded.

“A copy of Windows costs you around $350 for an upgrade. A copy of the Mac Operating System costs you $32.00 for an upgrade. You have about 150 computers and you will have to pay for at least one upgrade in the life of a piece of hardware. The maths is simple About $52,000 for Windows and $4,800 for the Mac OS. You’re putting $48,000 in Microsoft’s pocket for nothing really. The operating system doesn’t do anything except the computer to turn on and be ready to do something.”

Just then the Financial Controller jumped in and said, “But no one uses Mac’s in business except for graphics arts companies. We’re in a different business.”

I was about to answer when the Board member who wasn’t involved in the business said, “But the Commonwealth Bank has just gotten rid of 4000 Dell laptops and replaced them with Mac laptops. They’ve got the new branch in Queen Street and there’s lots of Apple equipment in there.”

The Financial Controller’s face turned the same colour as her lipstick…

Stavros turned to her and said that he wanted to see all her financial projections for this move to Windows including all the benefits. He asked me to have a look at them and report back to him.

This meant one more trip to Brisbane. It ended up being memorable.

I’ll tell you how this story finished soon.

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