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Googilocks and the Three Bearers

Here's a holiday treat. Any relationship of the characters to real organisations past or present is "purely coincidental" (of course).


Once upon a time, not that long ago….

….there lived a young girl in a land not too far from here. In its own way, the land was an amazing place; it was populated by scientists and mathematicians. In her younger days, the thing that was so striking about this young girl was her amazing hair. She seemed to have so much of it. so they called her Googilocks.

But Googilocks’ hair was not the only amazing thing about her – she had a very agile mind; she could remember many things. Her powers of recall were incredible. People would ask her questions, she would instantly come up with references relevant to the questions being asked.

Googilocks became very famous – not only in her own community but her fame spread far and wide. Her powers of recall were more than legendary; she was a resource for all (including children who hadn’t done their homework).

Now Googilocks had been brought up with a very powerful moral code; “doing no evil” was just part of who she was. Yet as she grew up, she had to make a living. She had to keep the wolf from the door (wait a minute – that’s another story too. Googilocks was cleverer than that and she realised that she might be able to recall some items selectively when she was asked questions. She might even been paid to guide people towards particular answers. She was, of course, telling people that the first things she might remember were “sponsored” – but human nature being what it was (except maybe in the land of mathematicians and scientists) it was the first item that people acted on first. This very well suited those who had sponsored those items, and they paid more money for that privilege.

Googilocks became big business, but people still loved her. She became friends with other clever people too, and worked closely with them. Sometimes her growing commercial instincts meant that these other people almost became part of Googilocks. One of her friends had even allowed people to share moving pictures. That was a natural fit for Googilocks’s “empire” – for that was what some people perceived her now to be.

Meanwhile, in a nearby land famous for its engineers and technicians lived the Three Bearers.

Papa Bearer had originally worked for the government but was now independent. His customers still perceived him as solid and reliable. Mama Bearer had her start with private companies a few years ago, and had a reputation as technically innovative. Papa Bearer and Mama Bearer co-existed for many years, gradually growing until a young upstart joined the family. Baby Bearer was quirky, and always a little different. The addition of the third bearer to the family changed the dynamics somewhat, and all three bearers tried to play to their strengths. They were really interested in their customers; they knew them well and they frequently competed with each other to see who was the best. They competed on price, quality and something they called “coverage”.

Googilocks, of course, was of great interest to the customers of our three Bearers. The information that she provided helped the Bearers’ users, and the Bearers were happy. The popularity of the moving pictures though started causing difficulties. The infrastructures that they had invested in were struggling to keep up with the demand. In some ways, for the Bearers, even their identities were getting lost. Their abilities to provide different services to different customers were more limited; and indeed they felt the only way they could compete now was reducing their price or to give more and more data to their customers and just hope that not everyone used it. The prospect of everyone using all their data just filled them with Terra – indeed occasionally they would even wake in the night, Peta-rified.

The worry was that Googilock’s moving pictures would sometimes use rather more data than people really needed and the Bearers investment in their infrastructure was, they felt, being a bit wasted. Googilocks had even found a way to deliver some content rather more QUICly than before and although that was very clever it was very difficult to control.

One day the Bearers woke up cross because all of these things had become a bit too much. Papa Bearer called its people together and asked “Who’s been eating our lunch?” Mama Bearer did the same. So did Baby Bearer.

The three bearers looked at each other and all said in unison “Googilocks!” 

Mama Bearer said “Well, that’s not fair! What are we going to do about it?”  Papa Bearer said “I know, I’ll talk with the government. I used to work for them and I’ve got some good friends there. Maybe we can make a law to get Googilocks to pay us for transporting her moving pictures.” So Papa Bearer set off to see the government.

Days later, Papa Bearer walked back through the front door, looking tired and utterly dejected. “It turns out that my old friends at the government really like Googilocks and they are a little bit afraid of her now. They won’t help us.”

Baby Bearer, slouching on the sofa, with a baseball cap turned backwards on his head, said: “Chill out, old man. The world’s changed. We’ve just got to accept the new dynamic and let Googilocks and her friends do what they want.”  Mama Bearer and Papa Bearer just looked at each other and wondered, “Maybe Baby Bearer has a point.”

But as the months rolled by, with all the stolen lunches, all three bears started to become thinner and thinner until one day, Mama Bearer exclaimed “That’s enough! We need to do something about this! We need to think differently about the problem! Yes, we need to manage the infrastructure problems that Googilocks has created, but we need to innovate. We need to change!”

“Instead of trying to stop Googilocks, or letting her do whatever she wants, maybe we need to do what she did to become so successful,” said Mama Bearer.  “Tell me more,” said a curious Papa Bearer.

“Well, think about it. People love Googilocks because she gives people what they want instantly,” said Mama Bearer.

Inspired, Papa Bearer said: “How about we stop forcing them into long contracts or making it difficult to change plans? Let’s stop talking about great customer service and make some real changes.”

“Great idea,” said Baby Bearer. “And while we’re at it, let’s get to know our subscribers better.” Looking at Mama Bearer and Papa Bearer, Baby bearer went on: “Googilocks is successful because she has all this data that people want. Well, you know what?  So do WE! We just need to use it better. If we get to know our subscribers better, we can give them more of what they want and make more money, while helping them. We’ve just got to manage our subscribers better!”

A cheeky grin crept onto the faces of the three Bearers. Finally, they had a plan. They knew they would face challenges and they would have to make some big changes. But they had hope again.

Not the end