Why Enterprise Solutions Don’t Make Toast


Ever tried to assemble a home theater system by yourself?

Here’s a rough breakdown of the parts you usually get:

  • Speakers: 1 center, 2 front (left and right), 2 rear (left and right) and a sub-woofer. That’s 6 altogether. They’re connected to the
  • Power amplifier, which is controlled by the
  • Op-Amp, which receives sound from the
  • CD player
  • DVD player
  • LCD TV
  • DVR (MythTV, TiVo, Foxtel iQ)

The speaker cables are different from the cables that connect to the DVD player. The DVR uses a DVI cable, and the TV uses HDMI. And everything has its own remote.

It can take quite a while to get it all connected up, and if you get any of it wrong, you might get a picture, but the sound is only coming out of the left speakers. Or the DVD player only works if you turn off the DVR first. And you just can’t seem to get channel 31 to work.

Welcome to the world of the enterprise solution.

Why Bother?

If it’s all so hard, why bother?

Well, because once it’s all set up, it’s awesome.

You can record live TV, and rewind to watch that great play again. You can feel totally immersed in the movie, and get a real fright when the guy jumps out from behind the rock. You could swear he was just behind your right shoulder.

You know you want one. You’ve seen your mate Jeff’s home theatre system, and the beginning of Terminator sounds amazing with all that bass. You can picture yourself sitting in front of your very own system, immersed in surround sound.

But do you really want to assemble it yourself? Do you really know anything about where to put the speakers in the room for best sound? Do you want to spend weeks or months swearing at the CD player because why won’t it @#%^#@^ work? It’s plugged in right, I’m sure it is. Maybe I need to recable the DVD player again?

Single Vendor

There are some vendors that offer everything in the list, and they all work nicely with one another. You still need a bunch of cables, and you still have to get them all connected the right way, but you only need one remote to drive it.

But now you can’t buy the other TV from that other vendor that you thought worked better.

And the remote doesn’t work with your existing CD player that you’re perfectly happy with, and don’t really want to replace.

And the remote has buttons in weird places.

It’s Not A Toaster

A toaster is pretty much the simplest appliance you can get. It has one plug, and 2 controls: ‘Toastedness’, and ‘Go’. A home theatre is a much more complicated beast.

But you don’t expect your theatre system to make toast, nor do you expect your toaster to record the football while playing a DVD. Enterprise solutions do a whole range of things in order to solve a much more complex problem.

The problem a toaster solves is “I want to toast bread, on both sides, to varying degrees of toasted”, and look how many solutions there are for that problem. Take a look at the toaster section of your favourite home appliance store next time you go to the mall.

So what makes you think that buying an enterprise solution won’t be harder?

Take the time to figure out what you want to achieve, and not just the ‘make toast’ parts. Do you want your toaster to match your microwave? Does it need to be able to handle English muffins as well? What about crumpets?

If you don’t have a good understanding of what you want to do, you may end up with the wrong toaster.

Listen To The Experts

Who hasn’t put the bread in and forgotten to switch the toaster on, only to wonder a couple of minutes later why the toast isn’t done yet?

A toaster has very few controls, and it does one thing well, yet you can still manage to mess it up. An enterprise solution has thousands of moving parts, and an incredibly complicated remote. It can do all kinds of things, and do them well, when it’s set up right.

But if you buy co-ax instead of HDMI cables, the system won’t work.

If you plug things in the wrong way, it won’t work.

And that’s just your theatre system. This is a multi-million dollar enterprise solution. Maybe you could use some help?

Up Next

Stay tuned for my next post, where I explain the difference between an enterprise solution and a product, and why you should care.

Photo by Roger Lancefield

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  1. My toaster also has a CANCEL button.

  2. Ooh! An exotic toaster!

    Mine has a ‘defrost’ button, but cancel is just ‘Go’ pushed the other way. :)

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