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« Some quick reflections on the Kathy Sierra incident... | Main| The Chicken/Pig commitment story... a *bad* way to motivate your staff... »

Follow the money when it comes to "research"...

Category Everything Else
From IS Survivor: An Important Fact About Nutrition

This is an excellent article on "connecting the dots" when it comes to "research" and who sponsors it.  The IT angle in the story is about Accenture claiming big things for SOA, with a veiled reference that they've invested close to a half billion dollars in it.  Think they have a stake in the outcome?  

Connecting these two dots matters to those of us who toil in the trenches of IT management, or more generally in the trenches of business management, because un-sponsored research is hard to find and harder to distinguish from the other kind.

Accenture's financial stake in SOA is stated. That isn't usually the case. Take a look at any industry publication and see if the publisher clearly identifies the stories that started life as press releases. They don't, but they should.

The research firms are no better. When the vendors they rate also subscribe to one or more of their very expensive services, any claim of impartiality must be considered questionable at best and disingenuous at worst.

And the situation is deteriorating. Once upon a time, independent test labs routinely compared the performance and features of just about every technology you can buy. These comparisons are becoming a faint, quaint memory, the victims of end-user license agreements (EULAs) that prohibit publication of performance data. That means in many cases the only data you can get comes from the manufacturer.

So the trade press publishes one sponsored study showing Windows is more reliable than Linux, followed by another sponsored study demonstrating the reverse. Yawn.

So the next time someone touts the latest "research" report, ask who backed it in the first place...  Follow the money.  And that goes regardless of which technology you place your bets on...


Gravatar Image1 - Very good points, Kevin...

Gravatar Image2 - Interesting but hardly surprising. I've recently been lamenting the apparent general lack of ethics in the IT industry, and this just reinforces that idea. At a more personal level, the need to pay a mortgage often leads IT folks in an organization to sweep mistakes under the rug and continue pursuing pet projects even when they are dogs. Then again, its hard to blame them when management has put IT experts on a pedestal and can't understand, or forgive, when they're "wrong".

As I think about it, part of the problem is that IT expenditures such as software licenses are fundamentally different than those for, say, furniture. For one thing, you can't very well "resell" the software after deciding a year later you don't like it. That money is just gone. Competitive upgrades and subscription based software are probably useful in combating this problem.

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Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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