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The chattering class is largely dismissive of Microsoft's plans to open a fleet of brick-and-mortar stores, complete with "Guru Bars," calling the move little more than copying Apple. But so what? If Redmond has learned anything from the Vista debacle, it's that meeting users' needs does matter. And whatever your opinion of Apple's technology and its suitability for the enterprise, one thing the company has plenty of is rabidly devoted customers who are willing to fork over a premium for its products, giving it some very tidy profit margins.
The lesson is that the pursuit of fanatical user loyalty is something that all enterprise CIOs ought to be thinking hard about. If you still have pockets of technologists sitting around swilling Red Bull and laughing at "lusers," wake up and smell the clouds rolling in. Add cloud computing providers to the already long list of vendors that are more than happy to take the delivery of IT services off your hands. As issues around cloud governance, risk management, and compliance get resolved to auditors' satisfaction, we expect to hear from more IT groups that suddenly care very, very deeply about end-user perception.
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