Oil Change


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I took my car into one of those quick lube places the other day for an oil change.  If you knew me personally, you’d be shocked.  I’m one of those guys who believe that changing your own oil is a matter of manly honor, or at least a way to demonstrate my intrinsic value as a husband.  But in this case, my family was leaving the next day on a road trip and I was pressed for time.  Also unusual for me, I didn’t extensively research the local quick lube options – – I just drove in to the first one I saw.

What I experienced from that point was pretty interesting.  Keep in mind that this didn’t take place in a wealthy urban area.  In fact, the location was a small rural town.  I was welcomed as I pulled up by pleasant older woman who explained where to go, how long it would take, and took my order.  I sat down in a clean waiting room with a children’s area and a variety of good reading material, satellite TV, etc.  The staff proceeded to vacuum my carpets and clean my windows.  All of my car fluids were checked and topped off at no additional charge.  Although they offered no waiting-time SLA, because the car in front of mine took longer than they estimated when I arrived, they proactively discounted my price.  Finally, when they returned my car in much better condition than how I had left it, there was a personal note thanking me for my business and mints on the dash for myself and my kids.

Now maybe this is what all quick lube experiences are like and I’m just the last to find out.  Regardless, on a total value basis, why would I continue to do this myself?  For only a small margin above my hard costs (filter, oil) it happens quicker (they have the infrastructure in place), better (they specialize in this type of service), and more efficient (they have scale that allows them to are include service and perks that I don’t even do for myself).  When I put in the opportunity costs of my time, I need to start thinking of other ways to demonstrate my “intrinsic value.”

As a CIO, I think about Cloud Computing in largely the same way as I just evaluated changing my own oil.  You still need to find the right quick lube joint, but if they truly think about it as a service, rather than just oil, why would you do anything else?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Laef Olson
Laef leads RightNow's strategy and vision for the company's technology operations including RightNow's hosting and data center management, internal systems design and development, and corporate security.


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