All you wanted to know about Mid-size Tech companies but were afraid to ask

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Matrix

I have started to love the power of matrices (plural of matrix). Here I am not referring to the 'matrix' as an arrangement of numerals in a grid-like form which can be inverted, multiplied by using mathematical formulae. This is not even about the movie 'Matrix'. What I'm referring to is a method of representing complex textual information. My appreciation for this form of data organization is not coming from a business book or from a third person but is a result of analysis and presentation I've done at my job. Main benefit of this method is that it gives the creator and viewer a summary glimpse of full data. We have limited memories and can understand and process only a limited amount of data in given amount of time.

Instead of delving into this topic at more abstract level, I'll present an extremely simple example, which one could be analogous to a complex business scenario involving several variables. Contrary to what I said above this example actually uses numbers but is good enough to convey the idea.

Tom, Dick and Harry went to see movie and on their way, they felt like eating fruit (remember eating junk food is not good for health). Tom said I want to eat 3 apples and 2 cherries if we stop by at Store X but I don't mind eating only 10 apples if we went to store Y. Dick said I hate apples at store X; I will eat 5 cherries and 3 bananas if we went to store X but will take 7 bananas and 7 apples if we went to store Y. Harry said I'll eat 9 apples at either stores and 20 cherries if we went to store X and 25 cherries if we went to store Y.

Ok, that seems too much to digest. Let's say, you want to present this to top management or to a customer. You might end up probably preparing a presentation with several bullets showing choices of each person under different circumstances. But you could present this entire information in a matrix form as well with multi-color coding.
| AX BX CX ToT-X | AY BY CY ToT-Y
--+----------------+----------------
T | 3 2 5 | 10 10
D | 3 5 8 | 7 7 14
H | 9 20 29 | 9 20 29
--+----------------+----------------
| 12 5 25 42 | 26 7 20 53
--+----------------+----------------


In another example, a Fan company representative wants to present performance data about it's products under various conditions. This time I'll let you look at the matrix below and think what would it take to present this is in textual manual irrespective of whether done verbally or in written.

Keys:
E - Exceeds Performance Standards
M - Meets Performance Standards
B - Below Performance Standards

Winter Spring Summer Fall
-------------------------------------
Model-I E B B E
Model-II B B B B
Model-III E E E E

Another advantage of this method is that it becomes very easy to identify patterns.
I'll use this representation in my posts to come.

Breaking the Ice

I am starting to write about technology companies - their products and people associated with it. You might say - don't we already have millions of web pages with endless words about the same topic. So what's the difference? Well, what distinguishes this forum is its focus. Yes, you are right there are many people talking about what will happen next with this company, when is the next product coming out and all gossips associated. There is nothing wrong with this. Information is a good thing, after all. Coming back to focus area of this forum - it is mid-size companies. And what exactly is a mid-size company, BTW? Well, we can go technical and use the stock market's or financial data to determine whether it's a midsize company or not. But let's keep it simple - any company which is not startup or is not big like Cisco/Lucent/Motorola is a midsize company. It might already be a public, may become public, may got acquired or may even shutdown. And we know no geographical boundaries. This company could be in Tel Aviv, Texas or Taiwan. Also, the goal is to review the company, its products and people as they are today and let others speculate.

I've several names in mind. In my upcoming post I'll talk about...