I have a rule, although in truth it’s more a rule of thumb, which goes like this: If I can’t sleep in my own bed, then I’d better be sleeping in a bed that’s at least as comfortable as the one I’m not sleeping in at home. By and large it’s a rule that’s served me very well thus far. For example, I’ve never spent the night in something I’ve heard people call a tent. (What an interesting idea: lying down on dirt.) Nor have I ever slept (or, come to think of it, travelled) in a recreational vehicle. My first husband used my name and the word “Winnebago” together once in a sentence, and that’s part of the reason he’s my ex-husband. (Sorry, kids, but mummy’s not an RV type of girl).
What I didn’t anticipate is that somewhere along the line I would find a bed better than my bed at home: The Westin Hotel’s Heavenly Bed. It is simply the most perfect bed in the entire world, and like Macdonald’s it’s the same wherever you go, no matter the city. (Unlike Macca’s, though, I don’t think anyone is seriously suggesting that the Westin Heavenly Bed is contributing to a plague of obesity among our children. That said, it might be contributing to more children in general.)
It also helps that, as an extra value-add, Westin has these bitchin’ dual-head, double-massage shower heads. As a result, if there’s a Westin in a town I’m visiting there’s a room with my name on it — even if the hotel isn’t conveniently located. And I bet that more than a handful of other frequent travellers feel the same way
That, ladies and gentlemen, is brand loyalty. But what’s intriguing — and germane to this missive — is that Westin has been able to differentiate itself at the most mundane level. I mean, it’s not like a hotel cannot have a bed. You think hotel, you think bed, right? So it might follow that in hotelier terms “a bed doesn’t matter”. (Hi, Nick. How ya doing? Yep, I’m going to take another shot here.) After all, if every hotel has access to the same beds, then no hotel truly has a competitive advantage.
But that’s not the case because The Heavenly Bed is a differentiator. And it’s not because of how it’s used (the argument posited by so many of Carr’s critics); it’s because the bed is just so damn good. And therein lies the problem with many of the arguments of Carr’s critics: they are trying make the argument for technology “mattering”, when it’s the people who matter. If an organization’s IT shop is so damn good that it can meet — and exceed — the business’s needs better than the organization’s competitors can, then IT does matter.
You know, I never did like that soooo American phrase of “eating our own dog food”. Maybe it’s time we went back to basics and suggested that successful IT organizations not only make their own bed, they lie in it — and enjoy the hell out of it, too.