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Investigating Gap's Decision To Remodel

Gap_logo_1The Gap has shut down its two most popular web sites prior to the Holiday season, causing headlines, presenting would-be shoppers with a none-too-friendly face, and potentially losing millions of dollars of sales.

Toby Lenk, head of Gap Inc. Direct (and longtime e-commerce pioneer, having started eToys), as one of the architects behind the change, could have chosen IBM, Blue Martini, or any number of companies to assist in the process. Instead, the year-long project was done entirely in-house, ensuring that any innovations are not easily shared with competitors. Lenk allowed that the change involved overhauling all the back-office systems used to track inventory and manage promotions.

Given that, look to Gap to have as least an eighteen-month lead over its competitors (primarily because this change was probably linked to Gap's recent store redesign). Reading between the lines, look to the software to provide Gap with the ability to leverage events in its brand new stores. Perhaps this will also lead to the issuance of actual Gap Inc. patents, which would help it eliminate unexpected payments - I believe Gap has already paid out millions of dollars - to intellectual property holders like Soverain Software LLC, who  have strong protection on basic shopping cart patents.

What Cities Must Learn From Hurricane Katrina

KatrinaThe level of personal responsibility taken by politicians in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has been dismal. There is a long list of specific things state governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin failed to do before and during the crisis. (Check out the Google news search for "Louisiana Governor" for a broad, non partisan view.)

The American Society of Civil Engineers has recently given America's infrastructure a 'D' grade and estimated that $1.6 trillion needs to be spent over the next five years to fix the most serious problems. 13,000 highway fatalities every year can be attributed to poor highway maintenance, and more than 3,500 dams maintained by states and local governments are deemed "unsafe" - and the number is rising.

Irresponsible politicians point fingers. Responsible politicians take action.

The issue is lack of local leadership, something I've blogged about here and here. New Orlean's beleaguered police force is doing a yeoman's job under tremendous pressure, but like other police forces nationwide, they need more. There will always be budget shortfalls. It is up to local governments, who know their own communities best, to exercise greater stewardship: over their tax base, educating their citizenry, and protecting the interests of their constituencies.

Link: New Orleans Emergency Preparedness Plan

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