Leaders in both the financial reporting services and technology industries have misplaced concerns with what the future of their respective industries holds, when they should be chiefly preoccupied with the here and now.
While good, secure and efficient software is always driving the bus, neither the consumers of Apple and Microsoft’s technology, nor the clients at companies like RR Donnelley (NASDAQ: RRD), WebFilings and Merrill Corporation, care one iota about what each of these company’s future product and service offerings is.
That’s because when it comes to enterprise and consumer business world machinations, the future assumes the personal nature it always has: Can your products and services get the job done for me now (and not five years from now)?
The old human resources-related question asked of job candidates ad nauseam, “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” has absolutely no relevance for any of these companies.
While it is easy to pass judgment on the obsolescence of mature, commercial, computer operating systems, saying Apple’s OS X from Leopard and earlier, all the way to Microsoft’s Windows XP have no future, plainly fails to recognize users’ wants and needs about the present (not five years from now).
Choices for both technology and financial reporting service providers is never clearer when customers answer with a resounding “Yes!” whether their systems do everything they require of them.
Efforts by both Microsoft and Apple empires to force users off stalwarts like Microsoft’s XP and Windows 7, and Apple’s Leopard and even Snow Leopard (Apple’s XP), in favor of Windows 8 and Mountain Lion, respectively, have done nothing but create resentment and bad blood towards these technology godfathers.
If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!
The metaphor here being no one wants to be forced to do anything—that is, if you want the latest and greatest from both Apple and Microsoft (the pudding), you have to eat your meat (pay the piper the cost of upgrading to Mountain Lion and Windows 8).
Many consumers prefer staying with their three years old and beyond computers for as long as they can—especially when their businesses are growing at a decent clip on secure, locked down versions of Windows XP that run even the proprietary application software they use.
Unlike the relatively stealthy, tight-lipped, financial reporting services trade (stealthy because, when was the last time you read anything of genuine, light-sheading interest on it other than at this humble blog?), the pain and pleasure that is the commercial technology industry, plays out before our very public eyes daily in the popular media.
Look at the commercials on TV. There is nothing compelling enough about either Windows 8 or Mountain Lion (can’t say I’ve seen anything about the Big Cat lately), to make anyone who values their hard earned dollars run out and get them. This doesn’t even speak to the increased cost of purchasing new hardware and accompanying application software upgrades (for older versions of programs that already run fine on existing, older operating systems).
To further contrast these two industries, one need look no further than the public profiles the respective CEOs of all these companies have.
We know when Tim Cook or Steve Ballmer makes an announcement.
We don’t even know who the CEO of Donnelley, Merrill or WebFilings is unless we do our due diligence and research it; or unless one of the three companies commits a blunder such as Donnelley’s premature and incomplete filing of Google’s quarterly earnings statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), last October.
To be fair, no financial reporting provider is exempt from making an error. Donnelley is/was in the spotlight because Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is the high profile company it is (stock closed Monday at 801.19). This perfect storm of public error created a public relations nightmare for RRD.
Officials at Donnelley refused comment (as is customary), losing (in some analysts estimation) the chance to gain positive traction from an unfortunate mishap, by at least providing some insight into how the overall, pressure-packed, earnings reporting process works.
The high and low profile C-suite types at companies like Apple and Donnelley remain forever connected via the stock market, Wall Street and the SEC, however.
And at the end of the day, how good or bad financial reporting service providers perform now is what public companies like Apple, Microsoft and even Google, care about most (not how they are doing five years from now).