Telling stories

10 April 2007
Oliver Sturm sent me an email chiding me for forgetting another reason for appearing at conferences: meeting our customers and hearing what they're doing with our products.

I slapped my forehead a couple of times to try and reboot my reasoning module. He's right: it's always interesting to hear what our customers are doing with our products and how they use them to solve their particular problems. We sell thousands upon thousands of subscriptions and, in the large majority of cases, we don't hear form those customers again (unless they order something else or refresh the subscription at the end of the year or, horror, have a support issue).

Indeed these days, when you buy a retail product it's hard to say whether it uses our components or not, unless you browse the install folder, perhaps with a hex viewer at hand. And undoubtedly a lot of the subscriptions we sell get used in internal applications that never see the light of day in the outside world. So, in a lot of cases, we just don't know what customers are doing with our products.

Of course, we don't have to be in an exhibit hall to be able to chat with our customers: it's just an easier conversation to have face-to-face. Nevertheless I do chat via email with customers daily about what they're doing and about suggestions they have for features that we could do to make their lives easier.

And that reminds me of something else. I met with Jonathan Erickson, the editor-in-chief of Dr. Dobbs, at SD West a few weeks back. We chatted for a quarter of an hour or so about the third-party component market. He then revealed that Dr Dobbs is going to be publishing a few articles about said component market and components in general in the near future and that they'd like some stories about people using third-party components like ours to help solve intriguing and unique problems. The more captivating the story, the more likely it will get used.

So, are you using our components in applications that could not be called run-of-the-mill under any circumstances? In other words, not your usual payroll application (which is undoubtedly fascinating in its own right), but, say, monitoring volcano seismic activity by using our charting and reporting components for the display of information. If you are, and are willing to be interviewed for the magazine for inclusion in one of these articles, email me at and I'll put you in touch with Jonathan should he think your story interesting enough.

Of course, if you'd just like to chat about how you're using our suites and about any suggestions you have, drop me a line at any time.

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