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2015’s New Years Anti-Resolutions

by Jeffrey Mann  |  January 1, 2015  |  Submit a Comment

For the past several years (way too many, actually), I have written a series of blog posts on anti-resolutions for the new year. So far, that and the April Fool’s Dauy post have been my most reliable posts, sometimes the only posts in a year. Publishing predictions in a blog or video post around this time of year is easy and predictable. So I won’t. If lots of people do something, that usually makes me want to not do it.

My resolutions are “anti” in several ways. The main one is that these are not things that I intend to do, but are hopes and polite suggestions about what other people should do. That is much easier. Anti-resolutions also suit the way that analysts work; we rarely do stuff, but we comment a lot on what other people or organizations should do. Most of the resolutions are also “anti” because they describe something that I hope won’t happen rather than new things that should happen.

I generally am not a grumpy person, but there’s a lot of undesirable activity going on out there. After reading this, please stop it. I will thank you. When they see you, the world will thank you too, I’m sure eventually.

  1. Stop trying to hide something your product does not do
    When I speak with vendors describing their products, the main things I am trying to find out is what is it good for, how is it positioned, and how is it different. It is always surprising the lengths that some vendors will go to hide that information. They don’t want to really tell me how it is positioned, because that would imply there are things that the product does not do. They hide how it is different, because they want to fit into an existing category. I will often ask questions like “Are you more focused on X type of use case, or Y?” I usually try to quickly add “…and please don’t say ‘Both’ because they are totally different.” But it is usually too late. They will go to huge lengths to hide any purpose for which their product is not intended.That is foolish, for several reasons. The main one is that understanding what a product does not do is crucial to understanding what it does do. Yes, you could use that simple file manager as a content repository but if you try to convince me that you are a content management vendor when all you do is manage files, that misrepresents your product. A second reason is that I will find out, and I dislike being lied to. If you misrepresent your product in terms of what it can do, why should I believe anything else you say? If you promise your product can address a use case that is way out on the fringe of what it was designed for, why would I recommend you to a client?A forthright “No, we don’t do that” earns tremendous respect. during analyst briefings. Don’t be afraid to say it.
  2. Don’t expect users to navigate a network drive or folder hierarchy to get at their files
    More and more users are learning how to use files with their phones or tablets. They don’t do things like \user\mktg\jeff\brochures. I talk with too many companies who feel that their users know and love their network file hierarchies, so they have to recreate that in their new file sharing environment. They might know them, but they won’t love them once they know about tags and categories and favourites. Forcing a 1990s navigation method on a modern collaboration tool might help with the short term migration, but is a bad idea in the long run.
  3. Stop giving major vendors so much slack
    It is fairly depressing when I speak with customers about the deficiencies and strong points of products from large and small vendors. No matter how big the drawbacks, the big vendors usually get a pass. There can be huge holes in their offerings that would sink any vendor trying to enter the market, but when I point them out too many clients just shrug. Whether it is the lack of selective remote wipe capabilities, dependencies on additional products to provide what should be basic functionality, lack of management capabilities, ugly UIs… the normal reaction is “They will get there eventually” or “We can live with that.” The primary reason is that the product is bundled with some other product that they already have, so the perception is that it is free. Cost is definitely a factor, and the emotions of sunk cost are potent; I get that. But a little part of me dies whenever I see a client accept mediocre products (or worse) just because it is easy.
  4. Do not press “Reply all” to more than ten people.
    I shouldn’t have to say this anymore.

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Category: anti-resolutions  being-an-analyst  humor  vendors  

Tags: anti-resolutions  vendor-briefings  

Jeffrey Mann
Research VP
20 years with Gartner and META Group
30 years IT industry

Jeffrey Mann is a Research VP at Gartner, covering cloud office, collaboration and social software.

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