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The Wizard And The Company Man

Not so long ago a young and bright company man phoned Aestiva. Excited and confident the company man asked to demonstrate an Aestiva product.

Although the company man didn't know it, he was helped by an Aestiva wizard, not a salesperson.

"Joey, a salesperson from one of your competitors told me paper-based systems are old," he told the wizard. "When will you be upgrading," he asked in a half-joking manner.

The wizard replied calmly. "Yes, paper is old. Very old."

Changing the subject, the wizard then added, "Double-entry accounting is old. Good accounting systems are based on this old concept. All good accounting systems. It's about five hundred years old. Yes, five hundred years."

This got the company man thinking. "Okay," the company man said in a tone foretelling a desire to argue the point. "Converting paper to electronic versions of paper is not enough. That's what Joey, your competitor told me. Your competitor said it's silly to keep the concept of paper. That his databases are super-sophisticated. With more options. I'm not sure I understood his system but it had a lot of power."

The wizard thought a bit. The company man was still under the spell of the salesman and his twisted words. "I see," said the wizard. "Electronic paper is not enough." The wizard then added, "Yes, I agree with you. Electronic paper is not enough."

An awkward pause followed. The wizard finally added "You know, an accounting log does not make an accounting system."

"What do you mean?" asked the company man in a confused manner." The wizard said, "In the same way an accounting log does not make an accounting system, an electronic version of paper does not make a paperwork automation system. Paperwork automation systems do everything database-driven systems do but your information is stored on electronic paperwork. You have options but you need fewer and the options are easy. They're about changing or marking your paperwork.

The wizard then added. "Paper is easy. It's important to have systems people can understand."

Suddenly, the company man got it. He broke out of his spell. "Sorry to have bothered you with the rantings of Joey, the salesperson." He paused and added "You know, I agree. Paper is easy. The sophisticated databases -- they're complicated. And tough to explain. Who needs them? I get it. Easy and understandable is valuable. I had it all backwards. I'm ready to demo your product."

The company man went on to demo and purchase many Aestiva products. Later he was elevated to senior management. Recently we got a call from the company man. "I have come to learn two things from Aestiva," he said. "First, never listen to what salespeople say about their competitors. And second, "don't be so quick to throw out things proven by time itself."

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