>Corning and Enterprise Architecture


Corning is one of those successful companies that almost seem to defy logic.

Perhaps best known by consumers for glassware and Pyrex, heat-resistant glass, Corning is a company that continually reinvents itself and in quite unexpected ways.

The Wall Street Journal, 7 March 2008, reports that “Corning has survived 157 years by betting big on new technologies, from ruby-colored railroad signals to fiber-optic cable to flat-panel TVs.”

Now, “under pressure to find its next hit, the company has spent half a billion dollars—its biggest wager yet—that tougher regulations in the U.S., Europe, and Japan will boost demand for emissions filters for diesel cars and trucks.”

Strange history of product development, no? (maybe even stranger than 3M and their yellow sticky notes?

How do they continually reinvent themselves?

“In Ervin, a few miles from the company’s headquarters in Corning, the glassmaker is spending $300 million to expand its research labs. There some 1700 scientists work on hundreds of speculative projects, from next generation lasers to optical sensors that could speed the discovery of drugs.”

Culturally, they’re not afraid to invest and lose money for many years.”

Corning has also not outsourced production, but rather “continues to operate the 50 factories that churn out thousands of its different products.

What is the drawback to Corning’s approach?

They “often depend heavily on a single product line for most of its profits—92% of last year’s $2.2 billion profit came from its flat-panel-display business.”

What is Corning’s EA strategy?

Corning is a company that goes where the profits are. They are like the nomad hunter-gathers of yester-year that followed their prey and harvest wherever that happened to be. They put a stake in the ground and then up-end it when it’s time.

They do not copy others, but rather like futurists, they seek out and develop the next great product and make a market for it.

While glassware is not generally considered high-tech; Corning has tech-enabled this everyday product in a myriad of ways, including: heat-resistant Pyrex glassware, fiber-optic cable, flat-panel TV displays, Corning has brought glass into modernity.

Even when looking into the distant outposts of space, it is Corning that had developed the special glass mirrors for the largest telescopes in the world to do this. Corning is truly the master architect of everything glass.

>Craigslist and Enterprise Architecture

>Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free classified advertisements (with jobs, internships, housing, personals, for sale/barter/wanted, services, community, gigs, resume, and pets categories) and forums on various topics.”

Here’s some basic stats on Craigslist:

  • Founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark for the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Incorporated as a private for-profit company in 1999.
  • Operates in approximately 450 cities in 50 countries.
  • Operates with a staff of 24 people.
  • Estimated annual revenue as high as $150 million in 2007.
  • Sole source of revenue is paid job ads in [11] select cities [and apartment listing in NYC].
  • Over nine billion page views per month, putting it in 56th place overall among web sites worldwide, ninth place overall among web sites in the United States, to over thirty million unique visitors.
  • Over thirty million new classified advertisements each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over two million new job listings each month, making it one of the top job boards in the world. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

Craig has taken basic website technology and revolutionized the business of classified advertising, and for the most part making it free of charge!

Why is Craigslist such a success?

I believe it is because of Craig Newmark’s almost complete adherence to user-centric enterprise architecture principles.

Here are some examples of this:

  • User Focus– “In December 2006…Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster told Wall Street analysts that Craigslist has little interest in maximizing profit, instead preferring to help users find cars, apartments, jobs, and dates.” (Wikipedia)
  • Customer-driven—“People suggest stuff to us, we do what makes sense, and then we ask for more feedback,” says Craig Newmark.
  • Customer-service—Craig Newmark’s official title is founder and customer service representative. When asked where Craig sees Craiglist in five years, he states: We always need to improve customer service. For example, we need better tools to detect and remove spam listings.”
  • Rejected annoying banner ads—“At the end of 1997, [we] hit a million page views a month. Then the folks at Microsoft Sidewalk wanted to run banner ads on the side, and at market rates, that would be all the money I needed to live. [But] I figured…I don’t need the money, and many banner ads are pretty dumb.”
  • Technology-enabled—“We’re just starting. We have to improve technologies, like multicity search.”
  • Culture of service—“We think we have a really good culture of trust and that’s because…we have stood by some core shared values. The fundamental value is that we feel you should treat people like you want to be treated.”

The only non-user-centric EA aspect of Craigslist is the quirky look and feel of the site, which is white, mostly text-based. As Craig acknowledged, “someone said our site has the visual appeal of a pipe wrench.”

(Adapted from ComputerWorld Magazine, 4 February 2008)

If Craigslist would take the leap and make the site more visually appealing, I believe we have a User-centric EA winner!