The Art of the bleeding obvious…
(I better caveat this: Any resemblance to actual organisations or events are entirely coincidental! These are my own opinions and not those of my employers…)
Let me tell you a little story, entirely hypothetical of course:
Analyst: We predict… (great fanfare and drum-roll), that by 2015, 85% of business operations will be done on mobile devices.
Vendor 1: Analysts says we’re going mobile. We better jump the competition. We’re buying a small unknown apps company and make a big song and dance about it.
Vendor 2: The Analyst is predicting and our competitors are buying. While they are sorting out their integration issues we’ll write our own apps which will be better, and we’ll jump the market. Let it be known and let it be so!
Vendor 3: Oops – our competition has a jump on us. Let’s build a cut-down version very quickly with limited functionality and launch to the market before the other ones have a chance. While they are fighting for big deals to recover their investment, we’ll gain market share.
Analyst: Look, we predicted this will be a hot market and now three vendors are already competing for that space. We better write a review / scope / quadrant / wave for that market. Let’s see: We predict that Vendor 1 was the inovator in the market, Vendor 2 has the strongest offering, Vendor 3 will appeal to the mid-markets.
All together: (gasp of wonder) All hail the Analyst, for they have powers to analyse the market and predict the future so accurately. What is your next epiphany, oh mighty one?
Ok, ok, so it’s a generalisation, it’s irreverent, and I’ve probably insulted every analyst and IT vendor in the process. Is the scenario so far-fetched though?
A while back, when I was working as a consultant, we used to be the butt of many jokes: “The definition of a consultant, is someone who asks you for your watch before they tell you what time it is”.
The next time you read a great new “innovative” press release from a vendor, or analyst for that matter, just look at it more critically: Is it reflecting a business need or is it creating a new one? After 30 years of constant innovation in the software space, why are we still trying to solve the same problems: Reducing operations cost, improving performance, protecting and sharing information? I can count in one hand the innovations that have fundamentally changed business models: Straight-through processing; Supply chain automation; eCommerce; Satellite communications and precious few others. Most other “innovation” is just giving better sharper tools to do the same job. We’re still building the same cabinet, only we’re using electrical routers instead of chisels and planes.
There is nothing wrong with better, faster, cheaper tools of course. That’s progress. But whenever you come across “The next BIG thing” just take a step back and think: is it really that big a leap? Or is it the bleeding obvious next logical step forward, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy?