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Earlier (p. 88), we mentioned Ray’s five E’s, tracking the stages of company morale. Another of his “letter maxims” was the three S’s—Service, Software, and Support.
Since his days running Boschert Industries just before coming to Novell, Ray had felt that East Asian competition was going to keep profit margins in data processing hardware too low to be interesting. An American company was going to make better margins on the three S’s. Novell Education was spawned to bring tangibility to the first and third S’s, service and support. (The two words were usually used together and never carefully distinguished.) If huge masses of people were going to use NetWare, huge masses of technicians would need to know how to support it.
An important Novell Education event in 1985 was the organization of user groups—local clubs of NetWare owners or network managers who met to discuss ways of enhancing the functionality of their LANs. In June, an executive committee of power users convened to create an international organization tentatively referred to as NetWare In Common International (NICI). The list of those committee members shows that NetWare had already found supporters in some large organizations: Laurie Antonell from Merrill Lynch in New York City; Dennis Eccleston from the New York Power Authority in White Plains, N.Y.; Jeff Farris from Southland Corp. in Dallas; Tom Frantz from Policy Management Systems Corp. in Columbia, S.C.; Aaron Greenberg from the US House Information Systems, Washington DC; and Larry Thomas from Security Pacific Automation Co. in Los Angeles.
Groups in Toronto, New York, Chicago, and Houston were among the first to organize.
Novell committed financial and staff support to the fledgling user groups. Reid was named Manager of Users Group Relations, and T. Allen Lambert, a BYU graduate completing his doctoral thesis at Cornell, was hired as a consultant to act as a liaison between Novell and the user groups.
Both Reid and Allen reported to Judith, then Director of Corporate Communications. Reid was now working under his ex-wife, who was a Director-level manager. If he had nourished any hope of a career at Ray’s Novell, this change in assignments brought him round to reality. Not only was he not wanted as an executive, it seemed he wasn’t even wanted as an employee. His new job was basically an invitation to resign. But Reid stayed on for two years to collect on his founder stock options.
From August to November 1985, Novell held traveling seminars in six major US cities. The first Dealer Authorization Program was also rolled out, with authorization given to resellers who had received product training and who had a demonstration LAN on-site.
In November, Novell’s Corporate Communications began to distribute weekly information packages to resellers. Called LAN Information News Kits—or LINK mailings—these packages contained product announcements and updates, technical bulletins, third-party information, and any other literature that might be useful to resellers.
“Its main purpose is to let everybody know what we’re doing,” said Judith. “Our products are so complex and we move so fast, they can’t keep up with us. We were getting six months ahead of our resellers.”
Novell offered classes to certify technicians as well as dealers. Certified Netware Engineer (CNE) certificates were awarded, and Roger’s was one of the first. This teaching and certifying activity grew steadily in student count, classes offered, and kinds of certificates awarded. By the ’90s there were over a hundred thousand CNEs.
Judith was ably served by her staff of writers and promotions people.
Planning for the trade shows, press conferences, and special events like the SFT announcement (see below) was handled by Anita Reece, Novell’s promotions manager. Maxilyn Capell, public relations manager, was also editor-in-chief of LAN Times. Several other writers contributed articles to the tabloid and to other company projects. Whether they belonged to Corporate Communications, Product Documentation, Education, Customer Service, Marketing, or even Engineering, these writers helped articulate Novell’s philosophy to the budding LAN industry.
Writers on staff by the end of 1985 included Elizabeth Lowder, Barbara Hume, Jennifer Johnson, Mike Durr, Jamie Lewis, and David Doering. Additional writers, including Ed Liebing, Mike Hurwicz, and Roger White, joined early in 1986.
The “Milestone II” celebration in New York City for SFT 1, the first System Fault Tolerant NetWare, was one of those events that helped establish Novell’s reputation as the host of great parties. (Milestone I had been LANs and had not been feted.) When planning the celebration, Judith and her people figured 300 guests would constitute a good turnout. Yet over 700 resellers, distributors, users, third-party allies, media people, and other industry luminaries were invited to spend an evening with Novell at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, then only recently opened. A champagne reception was followed by a speech by Ray, a presentation of the fault tolerance concept, and dinner. After dinner, a standup comic warmed up the audience for the headline entertainment—a concert by Ray Charles.
In his speech, Ray told the crowd, “We are an excited company.”
He spoke of the four P’s of Novell’s success: Perspective, Performance, Products, and People.
Regarding perspective, Ray reminded those assembled of how tenuous Novell’s hold on success was. Compared to the real players in the computer industry, Novell was just a mouse scurrying about at the feet of elephants, and it had to be careful not to get squashed.
As for performance, he mentioned Novell’s commitment to doing what it said it was going to do—in terms of financial results, product development, and service.
Products obviously were key, and Ray paid tribute to both the skill of the engineers and the vision of the visionaries, like SuperSet, Harry, and Craig.
Finally, Ray spoke of the importance of people—of finding them, motivating them, and giving them the opportunity to succeed.
Ray concluded by calling the Milestone II celebration “a night of euphoria”. “I allow for euphoria once every six months,” he said, downplaying the danger of his fourth E leading to his fifth, Extinction.
Ray and Judith sat next to each other on the flight back to Utah. Judith recalled:
Ray and I were talking about how it went and what we thought the follow-up program was going to be. And he says, “So, what are you going to do next, Judith?”
I said, “What I think we need to do is some kind of vendor fair where it’s just networking and nothing else.”
There had been a show held in London. It was one of the first networking shows, but the audience was really sparse. Ray said, “Well, we don’t want to be like that show. Nobody goes to it because there’s not that much interest in networking.”
I said, “Yeah, but we can make it really exciting and interesting, and it’s only going to cost about $500,000.”
He said, “No way! No, no, no, no, no, no, no!”
Of course Ray eventually agreed to sponsor the networking show. Judith called it “Networld” and scheduled it for the fall of 1986. As Judith, Anita, and the rest of the staff worked to launch the show, they never imagined it would evolve into the multi-million-dollar international trade show it became. (It is now called Networld + Interop.)
Judith later described the genesis of her idea for a trade show specifically devoted to networking. She was influenced by the lack of focus at Comdex and by the strategy of a small software show, Softcon, which Novell participated in at New Orleans.
I had been frustrated trying to get the attention of the press. You would go through the media at that time and there would be a small section on networking—maybe a page or an article. And of course it was my whole world and Novell’s whole world, and we could see the growth, and we could see all these vendors that were coming to us for support and all the OEMs and all the distribution channels that had built up. It was really getting big.
But you’d go to Comdex, and there would be a networking booth way over here and another one way over there. They were just so far apart and lost in between the exhibits of office furniture and paper and computers and everything else there was at Comdex.
So I really liked the look of Softcon because it was all about software. They divided the show into groups where they had accounting software, entertainment software—all these sections of the show. I thought, “If we could do just networking, everybody could see how much momentum there is, how many companies there are, and how many people are interested in it.”
Novell’s planning for Networld began in earnest in 1986.
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