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New Channels and Tactics for 3000 Growth

David.greer MB Foster gained the insights and experience of a veteran this year when David Greer joined the company as Director of Marketing and Sales. Greer posted more than 20 years of accomplishment while developing and managing business at Robelle. He then took about eight years away from the HP 3000 marketplace, working elsewhere in the IT industry, so he's returned with a fresh outlook. We asked him in a Q&A interview what non-3000 experience brings to his return to the community.

Third of three parts: Read Part 1 and Part 2 of our Q&A

What experiences during your 3000 hiatus can contribute to your work now, on your return to the community?

I spent three years doing early stage work with companies. For many cases for me it was helping out in marketing and sales, working out the messaging. In working with startups, you have really young, really bright people. The speed they operate at, their total lack of fear in trying new things like social media, or recording a video of the CEO and putting it up on their Web site, that's all quite outside what we're used to in the HP 3000 world. It's refreshing and gives you a new view. Some of those ideas we're working with actively at MB Foster.

What are the prospects for sending messages to the older generation of IT managers about experimenting with new technologies or social networks, based on your start-up experiences?
Enterprise computing is going to be conservative because they have to keep their businesses running. They have to make big investments on technologies that have lasting power. Most of these can't afford to be flash in the pan around their core application. If you want to do e-mail marketing, or take something off to the side to see if it works, most organizations can take a risk on that. Eventually, if it works, you have to integrate it - and that's when it really gets interesting.

    Social networking is an issue that's independent of IT. I think we have a generational difference. While you and I both have blogs, a Twitter account, and are up on Facebook, we're the exceptions. People of the baby boomer generation are more likely to want to print things out and read it on paper.

    At MB Foster we're thinking about what our audience wants. If they want to read from a blog, I'm happy to publish one. I'm still looking at what we'll want to publish in that medium for them.
There's transition and homesteading to deal with now in the 3000 market. Does it seem to have gotten more complex when you make plans for providing services?

When you go to a deeper engagement with a customer, it's no longer about the infrastructure or about the technology. It's about the business. That's a different message, a different group of people and a different way of thinking about it.

Over the past quarter MB Foster took on the EasyIQ product line, software created in Europe, and will be supporting and providing it to North American customers. Is this a practice you'll want to pursue again soon, or absorb the lessons from it first?

We see this as a strategic future for the business. It's a long-term play, one we're committed to, and a major new initiative this year for the education market. For the EasyIQ piece, only half of it is the product's technology. Half of it is MB Foster's integration and data expertise. The real value we will provide with Easy IQ is its ability to integrate with many different applications in education.

One of your first missions after you returned from the Med was ramping up a solution in the scheduling field. With 3000 companies migrating, is there an opportunity to improve the range of scheduling and bring 3000 features to other platforms?

There is very little out there that gives you MPE-like job queues, job fences and other features that MPE people are used to for job scheduling. The products I know of so far almost always require at least a Linux server somewhere in the mix, because most of them got written for a Unix environment at first. The Linux server coordinates in the background. For those companies that want to go to a pure Windows solution, I'm not certain there's a pure one out there that emulates most of the capabilities of MPE. That's why we are releasing MBF Scheduler, MPE job scheduling for Microsoft Windows Server.