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Crisis on Asimov: Earth
Analysis & Commentary by Dr. Sheila Ronis

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Benson's presentation to the IBM senior leadership includes his plans for marketing the newest generation of PTVs on all satellites, the Moon and Mars. His toughest customer is the Chairman of the Board, Yukio Kunisada.

Benson checked into his room. He was first up on the meeting's agenda, and he wanted to change his clothes to look more formal. As an expert in on- and off-world cultures, Benson knew that it required considerable research to meet the special marketing needs of the twelve different cultures on the satellite space stations, on the Moon and on Mars. He knew his task for this conference. He had to explain to the company senior leadership that the needs of the unique populations were as different as the variations in cultures on Earth -- maybe more.

Even in an intelligent wireless world, marketing and advertising required that data, information, and knowledge all needed to be put in context, to understand specific populations and their needs. Needs segmentation was not a new idea. It was one of those old ideas that became popular in the last century.

Benson knows that PTVs on Mars, for example, when used outside of the biosphere dome, need to be able to crawl on the surface of the planet and hold all of the essentials of life. Inside the dome, more traditional PTVs are fine. The same is true on the surface of the Moon, but Lunies expect many more comforts than the pioneers on the frontier of Mars.

PTVs are the essence of smart vehicles. All the customer needs to do is tell the PTV where they want to go and the PTV does all the rest. Recently, however, customers on Asimov want a new feature. They want to "drive" PTVs as a recreation on the surface of Asimov, the space station city that is used mostly for vacations. The requests are very frustrating for Benson and IBM. He knows that the System Safety and Environmental Council (SSEC) won't permit them to meet their customer's needs without a fight. A great political battle is about to ensue, just the kind of assignment a diplomat might enjoy. Remember, humans are not permitted to drive PTVs by law almost anywhere in the System.

Benson also knew that there were going to be many questions about this as he stood up in front of the group that had gathered at the conference. His friend, Jim Swenson introduced him.

"I give you Dr. Benson Chadwick," he said, and Benson began.

"Thank you for asking me to give you an up-date on the PTV marketing issues I am facing regarding the twelve space station satellites, the Moon and Mars," Benson said carefully, trying to read the crowd.

"I know many of you have questions about the situation on Asimov and the SSEC. But, if you will be patient, I will answer all of your questions after my presentation."

Little by little, Benson went through all the research results. He said, "So, in summary, this is what the customers want, broken down by type of customer and location, and as you can see, we can fill all of their requests with the technology of today."

"Unfortunately," Benson concluded, "the political challenges are going to be far greater than the technological, engineering, manufacturing or marketing ones."

"Great job, Chadwick-san," said Suzuki. "Now we have to all work together to figure out how we can sway the leaders of the SSEC - though I know that will take time."

Kunisada smiled, and bowed.

And, with that, Benson got a huge amount of applause. It was a first for him. He had guessed right about what to say, in this real encounter with his many bosses. As he sat down, he breathed a sigh of relief.

Chapter Three : Galileo


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