Goods vs. Services

Goods and Services I’m sure is a fairly familiar term for everybody; the two of them tend to come hand in hand.

The special thing about these two words and their concepts is that business foundations are built from one of these, or sometimes even both.

I felt I might share a bit of my experiences in working within a Goods (Product) Driven Environment and a Service(s) Driven Environment.

So over my 3 years at UNSW studying Business Information Technology (woo last year!), I’ve worked in both these types of industries. I thought I’ll just share a bit of my experiences and thoughts on what I thought of them.

Note: Yes, they are very opinionated and yes, they may be bias. But it’s a blog – so what do you expect? I will do my best NOT to generalise because I understand that not ALL companies will be like the ones I’ve been too. But it’s just for information and experience anyway.

Alright so I’ll start with Good/Product Driven.

The example companies that I’ve had exposure to with regards to this environment would be Coca-Cola Amatil and British American Tobacco Australia (current).

What does it meant to be product driven? Simply, the company’s main function or.. bread and butter, is a product, or a product type, whatever. E.g. Coca-Cola Amatil’s (CCA) bread and butter is their beverages, British American Tobacco Australia’s (BATA) is tobacco.

CCA was my first placement and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Of course I didn’t really have anything to compare to.. my previous casual employment was a service driven business but I’ll talk about that later. But in regards to real corporate work, CCA was my first. But what made it so enjoyable?

Well.. maybe I was lucky and got put into a good location/team, but one thing is for certain, the business ultimately, no matter which department (except maybe HR, lololol) had the same overall goal – to boost sales, whether you’re in the marketing/sales front lines or at the IT back offices making sure the systems were working, everyone was doing their jobs together to reach one main goal.

This is not much different from BATA, at the end of the day, every team is trying to boost sales.

I want to point something out – in both these companies (and I’m sure a lot of other companies with this environment), IT (the area of my ‘expertise’) is usually* a SUPPORTING function of the main functions (Marketing/Sales/Supply Chain etc..) of the company – back end.

* Usually because some companies that are product driven may be selling hardware/software blah blah, let’s try not to get too tricky.

But that’s just it, everyone is working together trying to achieve the same goal. The amazing thing about these companies is that usually this kind of nature is encouraged and awarded; awards aren’t for individual excellence, but rather for team effort, everyone wins. That way you’re not competing and trying to get ahead of one another.

However, in some cases I’ve noticed that the career climb seems to be much slower, but then that reflects on the lack of competitive nature you’re in. I feel that these companies usually take better care of their employees.

My experience within a service driven working environment however, have not been as sweet. Perhaps it was just poor management and bad luck with a sprinkle of miscommunication, but my experience at Oracle was not that fascinating.

Prior to University, as I mentioned, I worked in a small service driven business – Freeman Media Group (now known as Forefront Multimedia Group). Maybe because it was a small business, and maybe it’s the different industry – but it felt more like a goods driven environment (e.g. after one goal, everyone working together). I really enjoyed my time there despite spewing at the crappy public transport (and low pay hahaha). But I went to work everyday and did everything without question, no matter how mundane it seemed.

But.. I’ve never been in a corporate service driven world before, and the sudden transaction from CCA didn’t hit me as fast as I hoped.

In a way, I felt that I was thrown into the deep end and told to swim. This might work for some people, but it really didn’t float with me. It was just the way the workplace was. Things seemed so unorganised, tasks were badly delegated, and I was often left to do nothing because the manager(s) simply had no time for me.

I understand that you need to be more ‘pro-active’ within these companies, but it’s hard when you have no experience to begin with and only pure theory; I can do all the reading in the world, but at the end of the day I won’t know how to implement the system unless I try.

The idea of a service driven company is as my manager’s manager would say:

We sell people and their professional skills. This is what we market and this is what companies pay us for.

Well it’s true, that’s their bread and butter; consulting. Businesses pay Oracle to have them analyse their current systems/processes and improve on them, whether this requires software/hardware implementation and/or systems integration(s) etc..

But the problem starts here.

As a consultant (which I supposedly was…….) you want to get sold; you want the manager(s) to PICK you for the project, especially the multi-million dollar projects. Why? It helps you soar up the corporate ladder (IT anyway) and bonuses/statuses always are a go-er here.

But this often means a few things..

  1. The consultants are always learning, if they’re not on a project, they’ll be studying and learning new things – constantly.
  2. They ultimately do not have as much “free” time – made it hard to approach anyone.
  3. They can be VERY competitive – “playing the game” (if they don’t, they don’t get very far).

Sometimes it feels a bit daunting, because you feel like you’re on your own. You have to outshine others in order to survive in this world. But I’m not saying it’s bad – it suits some people, it suits others. I can understand that. From my experiences, it’s helped me decide just perhaps where I’d like to go when I’m finished with university.

Both worlds have given me valuable experiences and insights that I’ll always be grateful for.

P.S. Work is currently great 🙂


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