Editor’s note: Terri Grauer is a consultant and writer specializing in the application of network technologies to business challenges.As a not quite gen-x’er and not quite baby-boomer I am an avid fan of the big-hair bands, including one of the all time greats, Rush! I have given up my spandex for my mini-van as the rockers have given up their spandex and the stage for the sublime life.

However, I have not given up my mind for rent, as yet.

As I was driving home the other night, rocking out to my Bose stereo, yes, to Rush’s Tom Sawyer, I had a revelation about my career and the technology industry in general. Stay with me now, if you can.

The technology industry has several Tom Sawyer-ish folks at the helm, we have Steve at Microsoft, Sam at IBM, Carly at HP, Steve at Apple, Joe at EMC, Kevin at Dell and the newest is Paul at Intel.

What do they all have in common? They all can sell ideas internally to their own people and externally to the media, convincingly. They enlist the enthusiastic help of their friends and coworkers to help them do their jobs (paint the fence) while they quietly relax. The Tom Sawyer’s make grand promises of the fun they will deliver to everyone who helped when the work is done, only to deliver cutbacks and empty lemonade glasses when the heavy lifting is finished.

I drank a lot of pink lemonade in my time at the corporate church of the big technology vendors while seeking the promise of the big life.

A conscience, a responsibility

In all honesty, I’d probably still be drinking the kool-aid today if I didn’t have a conscience and feel responsible for my actions regarding customers.Which brings me back to my Rush analogy.

“Today’s Tom Sawyer he gets high on you, and the space he invades he gets by on you, a modern-day warrior mean mean stride, today’s Tom Sawyer mean mean pride”.

The largest technology vendors have invaded every facet of our lives; work, home, automobiles, grocery stores, even while taking an evening walk we are likely to be caught on video surveillance by two or three different sources.

I am using a computer right now to type this article, so Microsoft, Intel, Dell and EMC are all involved in this little venture. My 6 year old automobile has 3 on-board computers which report gas mileage, trip details, outside temperature and engine diagnostics plus a host of things I don’t even understand. I have a ‘grocery’ card which saves me money when I buy milk and I know the trade off is information about my ‘buying habits’, but honestly I don’t care if someone, somewhere knows that I buy tampons every six months and chocolate cookies every other month, heck anyone with a brain could do that math.

The arrogance of giants

My point is more about the arrogance of the big vendors than the space (market share) they invade. I work for a small (couple million dollars a year) company, who has about eight hundred very loyal customers.

Our customers are loyal because we have kept our word, no matter the cost. Recent example, our third party shipper damaged a delivery, concealed the damage until the customer signed for the delivery. The shipper refused to acknowledge their responsibility for the damage to the shipment. Our third party vendor (one of the big vendors mentioned above) refused to help resolve the problem, stating their policy was to side with the shipper if the customer had signed for delivery, period. So we, as the middle-men in this deal were out the original invoice amount ($24,000 plus the shipping) and we still had to ship the same equipment again to the customer in order to meet their requirements.

In the meantime, we contacted the shipping company directly and are resolving the issue without the third parties involvement. So tell me why we need the third party in the first place?

We are small and we are not the OEM so we are not going to give IBM, EMC, Intel, Dell or HP any trouble sleeping anytime soon. However, AMD is becoming very attractive to a lot of folks as an alternative to Intel, and Foxfire is starting to upset the Internet Explorer applecart.

Is it because as Americans we seem to always root for the underdog (Boston Red Sox)? Or is it because we’ve had enough of the “mean mean pride” that has accompanied the “mean mean stride”?

If you’ve had you fill of the arrogance of the big vendors and are searching for smaller organizations to do business with, send me your comments, I’d love to hear from you.

Send comments to terri@sandirect.com