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Excel. And if that wasn t bad enough, the PC world was trending from stand-alone PCs to networks of PCs, all of which required new kinds of software. This looked like a case for repositioning.
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The new term for software for networked PCs was groupware, or software for groups of computers, as coined by BusinessWeek magazine in an article on this networking trend. Interestingly Lotus owned the first groupware product, called Notes. That set the stage for a repositioning strategy that we verbalized as: First the spreadsheet. Now groupware. By starting off the statement with what was already in people s minds, we were able to establish that fit and make the readjustment. But all this took a great deal of time. To be specific, moving from spreadsheet to groupware as a position took a good four years of publicity, advertising, and intense management. The CEO told us that he had to fire a number of people who weren t happy with this repositioning strategy. And his fights with the board weren t easy. But time and money heal all wounds, as IBM arrived and paid $3.5 billion for Lotus and Notes. A happy ending to a repositioning story.
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Considering the amount of time it takes to readjust perceptions, starting early on figuring things out can be a big advantage. Just such an activity is under way at Netflix, the folks who mail all those DVDs in those red envelopes. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, thinks his core business will be doomed in four years, as more and more movies will be distributed online rather than by the post office. Thus the problem, which is shared by companies across the entertainment and technology landscape: how to profit from Internet video. What makes Hastings s future so uncertain is that as he repositions Netflix from the DVD rental business to video services business, he will have a large number of new competitors, such as Apple, Amazon, and Google, instead of just Blockbuster. We ll see how this all works out, but at least Hastings is on the case well before anything hits the fan.
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Talking about time, how about transforming a country s entire economic base That s the repositioning effort that s now underway on the island paradise of Mauritius. One of the world s largest shipping ports, Mauritius is strategically located
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near both India and Africa, and it is a common stopover for ships traveling to or from Asia. Its economy is dominated by sugarcane, tourism, and shipping. A few years back, a newly elected prime minister determined that this was an opportune time to capitalize on the emerging global digital economy. The primary obstacle, however, was determining how the government could best stimulate entrepreneurship. In effect, the question came down to: What does it take to transform an entire economy First, a joint venture consisting of the nation s four largest corporations along with the government formed a new corporation to stimulate entrepreneurship and the creation of new companies. After acquiring $100 million in corporate and international funding, the government began an ambitious countrywide technology initiative with the launching of an interactive government portal known as Mauritius Government Online or M-GO! The government then began putting in place the high-speed telephones, prewired buildings, and other infrastructure necessary to support a wide range of technology start-ups. This effort, combined with the country s multilingual workforce,
positions the country to attract businesses seeking access to customers in India, Africa, and Asia. Mauritius invested in the first 3G network in Africa, making possible services like streaming mobile TV and remote video camera surveillance. It plans to move beyond 3G to an even higher-speed service. Also coming on stream is a wireless solution that needs no mobile or even landline. You can buy a modem that uses the emerging Wimax technology. It plugs straight into your PC and receives its signal from a Wimax base station a couple of kilometers away. Wimax has been described as Wi-Fi on steroids, with hot spots often spanning several kilometers. Five years into the transformation, the BBC reported in 2008, For a country which has built its wealth largely on tourism and sugarcane, this is a radical change of direction. You can see the evidence in a 12-story Cyber Tower that is home to a cluster of tech-oriented companies in one corner software developers; in another, remote data storage facilities for companies and even countries making sure their data are in safe hands.