I'm sorry, but what's TPF?

Well I don't know about anybody else, but I've had enough of the O.J. mania that's incredibly monopolized the radio, the TV news, almost every cable channel, the newspapers, the tabloids, the magazines, and even the sale of trading cards. Without detracting from the seriousness of the crime, one has to ask the reason for all the hype. What gut-wrenching national emergency prompted the networks to provide live coverage of a suspected murderer driving around Los Angeles with half of the LAPD in warm pursuit? What cataclysmic disaster would have such far-reaching effects that it was even necessary to preempt a NBA championship game?

You see the issue here isn't the crime, but rather the (alleged) criminal. What we have here is not a homicide, but rather a famous person who might have committed the homicide. The fact that O.J. Simpson is well known, is sufficient reason to bring the wheels of national progress to a grinding halt. OK that may be an overstatement, but you've got to agree that none of what's occurred these past few weeks would have taken place if the suspect were named Toni Morrison, or Philip Sharp, or Michael Smith, or Joseph Taylor, instead of O.J. Simpson. There would have been no live coverage, no high-priced lawyers, no nightly analysis on the news, no books written, and no movie rights sold. So here's my point...

Take a product with a strong history of reliability and an impressive customer base of diversified Fortune 500 companies, and you still have nothing, until you market the product successfully. Provide the exposure for that product by touting its strengths, its flexibility, its adaptability, its proven track record and you just might catch the eye of some new customers. O.J. Simpson was successfully marketed. TPF has never been successfully marketed.

I've never seen a TV commercial for IMS before, and I doubt if I ever will. But IBM did market the hell out of the product. Articles and press releases in the trade publications, mailings to potential customers, and sales calls by marketing and technical IBM'ers certainly worked magic for the folks in the IMS arena. Why has TPF been kept hidden away? Why does a major player in the transaction processing field have such a minor share of the business? Is IBM truly committed to the product, and if so, when can we expect to see some tangible results from their commitment?

In the 60's and 70's, a company by the name of Ronco offered a broad range of products to the public through TV commercials. From "slice-and-dice" machines to smokeless ashtrays, to pocket fishing poles, Ronco aggressively marketed their merchandise. The sales figures, as impressive as they may be, are not important for this discussion. What is important is the fact that millions of people became familiar with the products Ronco was offering. My personal opinion is that there are less than 100,000 people in the world that have ever heard about TPF or even know what TPF stands for. Without the exposure TPF doesn't have a chance for notoriety. Without the notoriety there is no opportunity for consideration. And without consideration, there is no reasonable possibility of making the sale. Unless IBM can increase the TPF customer base, the folks in Poughkeepsie are going to have a tough time keeping the patient on life support when there's little if any hope for recovery.

Now 1 don't expect to see infomercials about TPF popping up on late night TV, but just once I would like to open a copy of Businessweek, or Time, or even Computerworld, and see a nice centerfold spread advertising TPF. There is much to be said for being successfully marketed. Just ask anyone in this country if they know who O.J. Simpson is. And for those of you who are curious, Toni Morrison, Philip Sharp, Michael Smith, and Joseph Taylor were 1993 Nobel Prize winners in the fields of Literature, Medicine, Chemistry, and Physics respectively.

Alan Sadowsky