Heard, and overheard

May 13 2010   3:39AM GMT

Vendor sponsored IT research, and matters of assorted skepticism

Anilpatrick Anil Patrick Profile: Anilpatrick

Technology evaluators and IT journalists ideally share a trait when it comes to the solutions or technology sales spiel that they are presented with—skepticism. Or rather, they should!

Sadly, both these classes falter at times, especially when it comes to the googlies presented by vendor sponsored research reports. So, are all vendor sponsored research reports biased?

Not exactly all, but many are, since the research findings tend to be grossly aligned to the vendor’s (or vendor driven consortium’s) interests. After all, why should a vendor sponsor research which doesn’t benefit their business objectives?

So let me start with house matters first—that of the technology journalist. Yes, this laundry session involves a lot of dirty linen!

It’s a well-known fact in PR circles that one of the best ways to drive media coverage of an otherwise insignificant vendor is to get a sponsored research study that highlights the company’s core specialties (and their superiority!). These “findings” are then floated around to the gullible media person. The rest is history—online and print.

Now the more disturbing trend is the new generation technology evaluators’ dependence on these research figures (in the form painted by media reports), akin to words from the Gospel. Without casting an aspersion on the capabilities of new entrants to IT, I must point out that many of the not so experienced IT team members are likely to fall into this drop. So such figures and “trends” need to be approached with a pinch of salt.

This is where IT leaders need to emphasize the need for credibility of information sources when it comes to vendor evaluations. Their years of experience should provide the required skepticism when dealing with spurious surveys and claims.

It has to be made clear that there’s no substitute for absolute ground work. Shortcuts are not possible when it comes to evaluation. No vendor reputation fancy charts or “survey trends” can replace pilot projects. So your message to the cadres should clearly be to get out there and deal with the evaluation face to face.

As for the journalist community and its ready acceptance of vendor sponsored survey results, on my community’s behalf—mea culpa, mea culpa.

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