Jeffrey Mann

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Jeffrey Mann
Research VP
14 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Jeffrey Mann is a research vice president for collaboration and social software at Gartner Research. Mr. Mann focuses on social software, team workspaces, the collaboration market and knowledge management. Read Full Bio

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I Apologize for Being Poison for Vendor Demos

by Jeffrey Mann  |  January 26, 2011  |  7 Comments

I wish to apologize for all of the demos I have somehow disrupted, those in the past and I am sure, in the future.

I see a lot of vendor briefings as an analyst. A disturbing number of them go wrong. I cannot count how many times I heard the phrase “Haven’t seen that before…” or “Can you see anything?” or “It worked this morning.” My favourite is “We just released a new build, and it might not be completely stable,” as the software crumbles into a smouldering heap of bits. 

Or worse. Just this week, a very proud web conferencing vendor wanted to show me their flashy new version. It did look good, until it crashed my machine with a Blue Screen of Death, the first one of those I have seen in several years. That day also saw the second and third time I saw it, until we finally gave up.

I’m not sure why, but I am prepared to believe it is my fault somehow. I spend a lot of time in the mountains, which makes for sometimes dodgy Internet connections. Maybe that is what does it.

Maybe its just my karma. Whatever the reason, I am sorry. If I could make it stop, I would.


Category: being an analyst conferencing humor technology Vendors     Tags: , ,

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pie   January 26, 2011 at 11:03 am

    It may be you. I have a tendency to make things work simply by my presence. Most of the vendor demos I’ve ever seen work, and I’ve seen my share of cutting-edge applications.

    On the other hand, my Grandfather could walk into a room and systems would start crashing. This seems funny, but one time he walked into his bank and within 1 minute, the branch’s entire system went down.

    So while I can’t prove it, people do have computer karma. As an analyst, it is good to have the negative impact. That way, when it works, you know it is truly mature and robust.


  • 2 Proops   January 26, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I concur with Pie.
    A college friend of mine had a terrible reputation for breaking all things mechanical. He had a demo of the first multi-currency machine produced by Mars Electronics just before it broke on live national TV. Something would always set on fire when he came to visit. And the last time I took a train with him it got taken out of service.
    Generally, working on the consultancy side, I prefer things to work. I’d rather see things do what they’re supposed to than see their flaws exposed.
    I guess it’s glass half-full vs. half-empty. Or the glass is twice as big as it should be.

  • 3 Tweets that mention I Apologize for Being Poison for Vendor Demos --   January 26, 2011 at 11:22 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by UK Technology News and Keith Ricketts, Bromley Stone. Bromley Stone said: I Apologize for Being Poison for Vendor Demos: I wish to apologize for all of the demos I have somehow disrupted… […]

  • 4 Bernd Burkert   January 26, 2011 at 11:22 am


    if computer karma is based on genetics we may share the same line of anchestors ;-)

    The good side: if you feel it’s time for a change you can always start a new career as product manager (the one who eats the own dogfood first when development says its ready).

    Customers and partners love robust and stable products, therefore our industry needs more people with this kind of computer karma…

    Keep on crashing

  • 5 Jeffrey Mann   January 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you all for the support. Maybe we could start a club.

  • 6 Brian Blau   January 26, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Coming from the graphics world demos were our bread and butter, the core from which we derived our value. This was mainly because there was nothing else that could take the place of a live interactive session to showcase our ideas and advances, especially for a technology area such as virtual reality or interactive computer graphics. Back in those research days I remember hearing the phrase \publish or perish, demo or die\ and the sentiment here seems to ring true today too.


  • 7 Tweets that mention I Apologize for Being Poison for Vendor Demos --   January 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ian Truscott and Antony Hutchison, Simon Woodford. Simon Woodford said: RT @piewords: A real issue for some people. Funny though. RT @jeffmann: I am vendor demo poison #gartnerblogs […]

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