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Last Update: Monday September 20, 2021

Key Idea: Accomodate the Hard-to-Win

Greg Steiner is the Chief Technology Officer who works to make it easy to use

Key Question:


Bring in customers that other can't attract.

Most of the online matching and dating services have had no problems getting men to sign up but they have difficulty attracting women to services that seem intrusive. Dr. Buckwalter told us that they knew that had to get women to sign up or eHarmony would be a failure.

Q: What did eHarmony do to win over the women?

A: They made the site safe to use. A women's picture and personality profile are made available to the men she is matched with but the men can only see what she chooses to reveal. The service will say to a man, "You have a match and her name is Sue. Do you want to meet her?" If the man chooses the yes button, he then sees just the first name and a short description of Sue's likes and dislikes. Based upon that information, he may send her a message that is completely controlled by the software.

There can be as many as five communications back and forth that are controlled by eHarmony standard messages before a couple even can begin to email each other.
A woman may choose not to show the photograph she has submitted until the third or fourth or fifth exchange with a man. Remember that Dr. Warren wants singles to get to know each other from the inside out before they progress too far in even thinking about meeting in person. A woman may choose never to show her photograph. This communication process is safe and women appreciate it and are willing to pay for it. They also tell their friends!

Q: How does a small business use technology in the business?

A: There's lots of ways and many of them were only available to big businesses up until a short time ago. But new products and plummeting costs have positioned all of us to be more competitive in our respective market places with a minimum investment. We can analyze our inventory and learn what sells and what doesn't, in what quantities, to whom, with what seasonality, at what margin, and just about anything else we might want to know.

We can codify the intellectual capital of our organization, protect it, keep it organized and up-to-date, and easily search and retrieve what we need. It's all about the learning continuum, turning data into information and information into knowledge, then using that knowledge as the basis of the decisions we make in operating our businesses. Hence the term: knowledge management.

Our challenge as business owners is to figure out what data to store, in what vehicle (data warehousing) and how to access it in such a way that it provides meaningful information that is of real value to us in our business (data mining). We've used a lot of buzz words here; let's look at knowledge management, how it actually works, within a small business. There are a number of things that even the smallest business can do to capture, organize, and make available the intellectual capital of the organization. We'll focus on three here.

Establishing a Common Operating Environment (COE). Before you had computers at your office you kept documents in folders in file cabinets. Different people had access to those documents because they needed them to do their work. Sometimes people forgot to return the documents when they were through, and you would scout around the office until you found them. Sometimes two people needed the document at the same time and they would work something out, or make another copy of the document. The point is that every business generates important information, has processes that includes forms and templates, and shares these among a number of employees.

Now that you have computers, you still generate documents, you still keep them in folders, folders are kept within folders, and various people have access to them. Electronic filing systems can be vastly superior to paper filing systems if we remember to follow the business practices we used in a paper environment. Do you have documents on your computer or network server that are not in folders? How many? How does that compare to the number of documents you would have tossed into a file cabinet without filing?

The good news is that at least (a) the documents are listed alphabetically wherever they are stored and (b) we can always "search" for them if we remember the name, or the software application, or when they were last modified. Hmmm. There must be a better way. You're right! And it's called a common operating environment or COE. In a business with a network environment, where a number of employees have access to a central data depository, you:

1) Establish document naming conventions. As new documents are created, they are named in accordance with organizational policy. People looking for a document would have a good idea of the document name, even if someone else created it.

2) Determine the file structure. Folders within folders within folders. Organizing your information so that documents are easily located.

3) Grant access as appropriate. Security levels and edit rights, determining who can have access to what or not, when to permit "read-only" access, and who is authorized to make changes.

4) Safeguard information. Back-up systems, on and offsite, disaster recovery plans.

If you do all of the above, provide training on the implementation, you will have established a COE. The benefits are enormous and immediate.

Using Databases to Work and Mine Data.  Most of us couldn't imagine functioning without word processing software and spreadsheet software in our businesses. We all use e-mail and a lot of us can use presentation software, some more rudimentary than others. Yet, for some reason, the database software frequently goes unused in the small business.

Digitize, Digitize, Digitize Maintaining our information in electronic form is critical to both the establishment of a COE and mining our data on an ongoing basis. Virtually all software applications allow for exporting data and importing data. So as long as you maintain your data electronically, you can take advantage of new software development in your industry without having to re-enter the information.

Electronic files are easier to navigate and cheaper to maintain. Additional computers and memory are just less expensive than rent, file cabinets, and storage facilities.

Think about it

What customers should you think harder about pleasing? What demographic could most influence the growth of your business? How do you go after that demographic?

Clip from: eHarmony

Pasadena, California:  Meet Dr. Neil Clark Warren. He has always been an excellent marriage counselor;  failures in marriage bothered him.  He decided to look into the broken heart of divorce. He probed and researched 512 couples -- divorce autopsies -- and discovered most of these people married the wrong person. He wrote a book about it and that book was selling well, until Oprah invited him to come on her show. Of course, sales exploded. When his son-in-law challenged him to expand his reach, they took that business to the web and almost lost everything.  That was 2001; the dot.coms had become dot.bombs.

Go to the key ideas and all the videos...
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Neil Clark Warren, Founder

300 N. Lake Ave.
Suite 1111
Pasadena, CA 91101

Visit our web site:

Office: 6267954814

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 2000

Accomodate the Hard-to-Win

GREG FORGATCH: We don't have any links going out of eHarmony. We take what users are -- what they're doing at eHarmony, their experience that seriously that we're going to take care of them. So we're not going to promote to them Club Med or some travel trip.

We're going to respect their privacy. We're going to respect how intimate and important this is in their life. (Voiceover) We recognize that the medium of the Internet would really allow for the leverage to distribute the service.

It's all an intellectual-property based system. You can complete the questionnaire. We can assess it using our algorithms, in our modeling, and we can provide you the results online, and we can do it entirely automated so it has no human interaction. And when you put all those elements together, the efficiency in launching eHarmony with ten people, an entire staff and really it became quite a model for leverage.

GALEN: (Voiceover) It's not the typical dating service. And as a result of that, we initially, and we continue, to attract women at much higher rates than other matching services. They feel comfortable. And if you have -- if you are attracting, you know, intelligent, matchable women, you have success. The men will follow. It's guaranteed.

HATTIE: Really.

GALEN: It's guaranteed.

HATTIE: As Camille Paglia said, "Every woman has exactly what every man wants."

GALEN: Yeah, that's a fact. And, eHarmony has what men want, that being women. And, we got them because we are safe and we allow them to control the process.

GREG FORGATCH: That was a tremendous element and frustration and challenge to overcome because the image of the dating service industry had a lot of operators who really were in it for the dollar, who quickly linked you to that industry of pornography, even though you thought you were looking for a dating service.

That's the form it was in those days.

So we had to make sure we did that right. And we delayed launching eHarmony about 18 months until we continued another version of the modeling, another research of married couples, and again another building of the modeling to make sure that it was done. It was a struggle.

GREG STEINER: Now this should be launching in a couple weeks.

GREG FORGATCH: (Voiceover) We've been identified as the fastest growing service and the brand is growing faster than anything in the country today. I think that we've kind of hit that tipping point. Our marriages are happier then marriages I'd like to say who met in the wild. And, with that kind of proof and that kind of proven research there's a tremendous amount of momentum. Greg Steiner is Vice President of Operations and, John Ward participates with our business development. He's developing relationships with partners on the Internet.

HATTIE: The ones that used to when you started didn't want to play.

GREG FORGATCH: Yes. (Voiceover) We just learned that the online dating service industry, as a whole, has exceeded the spend. It used to be pornography was the most spent subscription service. It's nice to see that something good is passing it.

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