Tower Blog

A blog about smart POS software for independent small businesses.

Category: Moral Compass (page 2 of 2)

More spin, spin, spin

Bernard Zimmermann one of the owners of POS Solutions is at it again, publishing false information to justify previously published false information.

Yesterday he made a series of claims about me. These are untrue.

He says I started my It career working side by side with him at Fluor, an engineering company. I did not start my IT career at Fluor. I had been in IT seven years by then (CSIRO (4 years), GMH (2 years) and CBA(1 year)). At Fluor I was a Systems Programmer, Bernard wes an Application Programmer. We were in different areas. We had little to do with each other.

Bernard says I then brought (sic) my first newsagency software – inferring this is when I started Tower. I started Tower just prior to joining Fluor. We had developed our newsagency software prior to this time – so the timing Bernard claims is way off. Further, his claim that i acquired the newsagency software elsewhere is false. By the time I was with Fluor I already had a full time software developer working in Tower Systems – in addition to my evening and weekend work.

Barnard says he came across me next when I was selling software to real estate agents. I have never sold advertising to real estate agencies. Indeed, I have never sold advertising.

Bernard says he has been banned from publishing comments here. He has never been banned from posting comments at the Tower and newsagency blogs.

The blog post from Zimmermann conatins considerable false information – all because he is trying to spin that his company sets IT standards for newsagents. It does not. POS Solutions today is a pale imitation of what it once was. It serves, I estimate, around 600 newsagents. This number is falling. POS is fading because of appalling support. I offered to purchase the business. They declined. Since my offer, in writing last year, Zimmermann has stepped up his public slanging including saying he offered to purchase my company. His attempts to rewrite history are breathtaking.

Zimmermann ought to focus on building his business. He can start to do this by treating all newsagents equally. I know of people who have waited more than five days in the last week to get a call back on a serious problem with the software. If they were one of his chosen users they would have received a call back immediately. Fixing this is more important that being a revisionist when it comes to history.

There’s no doubt I benefit from the POS Solutions mess. Each week we are converting people from their software. This growth is one reason we have increased our team in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. It’s a good challenge.

I am sorry for airing dirty laundry here. It’s a waste of my time and your time – if you are still reading that is.  I feel that I have no choice. If I leave Zimmermann’s blog post unchllenged then it becomes fact by default.   His false statements need to be shown for what they are.

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False statement from POS Solutions

So it was good the newsagency industry adopted our invoice files as a standard for the industry invoicing.

This statement was published by Bernard Zimmermann or POS Solutions yesterday. It is false. The newsagency industry did not adopt POS Solutions file formats as a standard. The standard was developed through a broad consultation process involving newsagent suppliers, software companies and external IT consultants.

Why give focus to a competitor? In this online world publishing anything, even something false, gives it credence. I’d rather give a competitor some focus and correct a false statement than leave it there without challenge.

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Spin, spin and spin

POS Solutions, is an Australian company. The company provides software and services to small and medium businesses, where the company has enjoyed steady growth so making it particularly well-known in Australian Newsagencies where its software has taken hold as the market leader. It has recently moved to Pharmacies.

Its product and services range from entry software through to multi user enterprise software for retail point of sale software.

It has over 2,000 clients in Australia.

This is the entry for POS Solutions, a competitor of Tower Systems, at Wikipedia, authored by someone called Zprogrammer. The October 2007 entry is inaccurate.

In a letter to a client dated October 12, 2006, George Tzilantonis, the then Business Development Manager for POS Solutions states:

Pos Solutions has over 1200 Customers Australia Wide

For the Wikipedia entry, written just one year later, to be correct, POS would have needed to add 15 new systems a week between October 2006 and October 2007. Bernard Zimmermann, a Director of the company, told me late last year that they were had been adding two or three systems a week. While I don;t believe his claim, I am in no position to prove this.

Tzilantonis’ 1,200 relates to all markets. Once you strip away pharmacies, hardware and other businesses, you are left with 600 to 700 newsagents. This is the number newsagent suppliers have for POS and their market share as well.

POS Solutions is not the market leader in the newsagency marketplace, not by any measure. They do not have 50 employees as is claimed – if they did people would not have the difficult they appear to in getting access to support.

The reference used to claim market leadership in the Wiki entry is a newsagent year book published by the ANF. The author of the POS Solutions Wikipedia material has taken the information in the ANF document out of context. Here’s what someone reviewing the page had to say about the claims:

While trying to establish notability of the company after the author user:Zprogrammer keeps removing the {{notability}} without improving the article, I came across the blog of a competitor. Obviously this needs to be taken with caution, but at least it indicates that some of the claims need better independent sources, to decide, who of the two is right. In particular the issue of market leadership as well as the number of customers need reliable quotes. The source given in the article for market leadership, the National Newsagents 2005 yearbook, is not on the given web site. —S.K. 16:21, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Why does this matter? It goes to credibility if Wikipedia and, if Zprogrammer, the author of the Wikipedia entry, is from POS Solutions, it goes to the credibility of their company.

Newsagents are trusting folk, many have not purchased a business computer system before. We owe it to them, and to the laws of the land, to be honest in all of our representations.

I am caught between a rock and a hard place in posting this. On the one hand, why give oxygen to a competitor? On the other, newsagents need to know that they need to test what they read and are told about software companies. The Wiki entry for POS Solutions is an example of something which is spin (at best) and ought to be disregarded.

UPDATE: Zimmermann has blogged about my post here. He does not commit to addressing the concerns raised by people at Wikipedia about the veracity of the claims made on behalf of his company. Instead, he tries to discredit me and, in doing so, digs a deeper hole for himself.

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Thank you

We often receive emails and calls of thanks from customers. We appreciate the appreciation. None more so than a note yesterday from someone who had come out of a particularly rough patch.

You helped me survive when I thought we would drown in the mess. It has been a very trying time dealing with the drought and some suppliers who don’t help. You were always there for us.

I rarely share here this type of feedback we receive. However, this note touched me because of the circumstances. We intervened on behalf of a customer and navigated their challenges with some of their suppliers. Most suppliers were helpful. A couple were not. They received enough assistance to get through the rough patch. Today, their business is growing.

I am proud that we were able to help get their need through to enough of the right people to help them survive. With a family home on the line it was high stakes.

It is this work, on behalf of small business owners doing it tough, which I enjoy immensely out of all we do here at Tower Systems. The trust in us is a privilege.

Our commitment to the small business end of town is absolute. It has been since day one, twenty-seven years ago. We will do anything to help a small business in any of our markets – newsagents, jewellers, bike retailers and gift shops – in genuine need. This ranges from providing free support, hardware and or software.

While the thanks are appreciated, it is our own knowledge that we have made a difference which matters most.

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Supporting the Choir of Hard Knocks

The Choir of Hard Knocks is one of three community groups we have financially supported this year, the other two being the Lighthouse Foundation and the Make A Wish Foundation. Based in Melbourne, the Choir of Hard Knocks is made up of around 50 homeless and disadvantaged men and women. They were the subject of an excellent documentary on the ABC earlier this year. On December 1 at 8pm at Melbourne’s Vodafone Arena you can see the choir in action first hand. Details of the concert are at the choir’s website. Maybe we will see you there…

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Engaging beyond the donation

One of the organisations we financially support with a monthly contribution has invited our participation of a strategic planning session later this month. While we do not have experience in their field, it will be interesting to participate.

While we have been involved with this organisation beyond a financial relationship, I am looking forward to participating in the planning session and see where that goes.

Owning a business is about more than the business itself. There are many connections beyond the corporate which matter to me – families of team members, friends, community groups. These connections are more important than the commerce itself as they are where the business can make a valuable contribution.

I want this business to count for more than business and for more than the direct lives with which we connect. Yeah, it’s an epitaph thing I guess – everyone wants a life which means something once they are gone. Not that I or Tower are planning on going anywhere.

Engaging beyond a donation is most welcome.

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A week of interviews

I was interviewed yesterday for a business magazine feature on our software. This was the third interview of the week, each involving different aspects of our business. Two were for trade journals and one for a business magazine. The business magazine interview was the most interesting since the journalist came to the interview with a view which was contradicted during the interview.

Interviews are an excellent opportunity to check in with what you really think – beyond the politically correct or corporately focused answers, it is good to be challenged and to have to dig deep inside to speak to a vision for the future of your business and the markets in which you operate. The business journalist and I had a good chat about politicians and how they manipulate interviews – this was a preamble to his interview of me. Damn, he didn’t let me get away with anything!

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Lying software sales people

A newsagent considering our software in NSW was told by a competitor this week that our software had a deficiency in the way it managed bringing in new magazines into the business. The claim by the competitor was put with such conviction by the competitor that it made our prospect doubt us. What was a certain sale for us is now something we need to work on. While we are happy to show that what the competitor has said is a lie, sometimes part of a lie sticks.

I hope that the experience this week is a one-off and that appropriate counseling for the new employee of the competitor involved will guide them to focus on their offering rather than lying about us.

I stress to all within Tower Systems that we need to focus on what our software offers and to demonstrate every claim we make. I also remind our team that we can bring any prospect into any of our retail businesses and show first-hand how we use the software ourselves to achieve we claim it can achieve.

The software sales person who lied is now in our sights. We will watch him carefully. Another lie like this week and we will take action. It is disrespectful of newsagents and it demonstrates a lack of confidence in his product to win the sale on its merits.

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Finding a moral compass

The term moral compass has been in the news a bit lately. First in relation to our handling of David Hicks and more recently in terms of politicians and their behaviour. Then I read the term in a book yesterday about IT startups, one founder talked about his moral compass. For reasons I won’t go into here it’s something which has been on my mind for a while and so these recent references spoke to me.

Last night, doing some research online, I discovered moralcompass.org, a website which “examines the impact of competitive self-interest (as pervasively promoted by market-based economic theory) on our traditional idea of a moral compass”. This site is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to research morals particularly in a business context. The survey at the website is particularly enlightening.

It can be challenging business because you’re in a world where certain behaviour is essential to survive – especially if you’re in a small business competing with big business. It can be compelling to check your morals at the entrance to the stadium. But then you end up as bad as the politicians who are so rightly pilloried for their ‘flexible’ morals.

The moral compass website is a good and timely find.

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