Saturday, 22 October 2011

The G-Spots

So time for some more positive commentary - a new page on this site here now highlights the 'Grumpy Spotlight' awards for great quality or service.

Naturally this is an entirely personal and subjective list, based on my experiences - but I hope it goes to highlight some places / things that really deserve all the recognition they can get.

I'd welcome any of your recommendations or comments on the items I list.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

That time of year....

Well it's that time of year again.

When tens of thousands of fanboys (& fangirls) flock to the west coast of the USA to watch, listen to and worship a benevolent dictator, regarded by the fanboys as almost a messiah, impart the golden missives that will fuel their blinkered direction for the next twelve months...

Now of course, this is either the latest #EvilFruitSeller product release or #CrazyIvan's SnoracleWorld marketing branwashing fiction fest...

So which should you go to? well would it surprise you if I said - "neither, spend your time with your friends & family". Frankly speaking both are about as little value to the average enterprise customer...

Whilst of course both operate an artificially dominante position in certain segments, and certainly market above their stations, they do clearly set certain parts of the IT agenda - BUT frankly as far as I can see there's little point in attending as whatever happens will happen just the same regardless.

Some assorted personal thoughts about both companies :-
  • neither is worth trying to engage with dialogue in as neither empowers their staff to have any meaningful dialogue
  • neither entity listens & changes their ideas or directions easily
  • both companies are most certainly driven strongly with clear internal direction
  • both entities are driven by a singular personality - undoubtedly clever & focused, but one that makes decisions in a seemingly random & emotional fashion
  • both companies will have to undergo major changes in the public view & internal structure of their senior management teams
  • both companies will this week announce new instances of their proprietary lock-in technologies
  • both companies trade on emotions & subjective reasoning in the customer base, with little challenge by the fanboys to their cost models or purported benefits 
  • both companies are aggressive & arrogant in their manipulation of perceived position in terms of creating lock-in, eroding open standards and attempting to eliminate competition
  • both companies specialise in competing with their partners
  • both companies have made significant direction changes with their strategies and technology offerings
  • both companies have the attention of senior management in their customer bases, and will most certainly drive a number of key areas in the near future
There's plenty more, but let's see how the announcements play out first :)

Saturday, 1 October 2011

NDA Briefings - the content lap-dance?

So those who follow my twitter profile, or know me in person, will understand that one of my major annoyances in life is the topic of NDAs.

Now I fully understand what an NDA entails (I've spent enough time with lawyers in my life to know this area very well), and understand why anything more than 2 way NDAs are a genuinely terrifying concept. I also personally know what it means for all involved to 'tear-down' and NDA in 'an aggressive fashion'.

Naturally in my line of work, probably 70% of the external discussions I have are of a confidential content nature, with a high % being purportedly related to NDAs.

So why do they annoy me?
Why the hell don't vendors trust customers when under NDA with a copy of the slides? either respect an NDA or don't bother at all..#Annoyed
Well as far as I can see they are increasingly used as a way to restrict the content, or method of delivery of the content, provided to customers. With phrases such as "can't give you to document or presentation as it's NDA" being uttered on a weekly basis - the concepts of trust and respect being lost forever.

A common use of the NDA is to cover future roadmap discussions - naturally enough as for any supplier this is a very sensitive are. But my position is that roadmaps should change, and that's fine. The key is to ensure that there is regular communication & dialogue about the changes. The customer of course needs to have some reference artefacts for a point in time to use for their own decisions, after-all we have to create our own 6/12/18/36mth internal strategies.

Clearly if we can't have a secure & trusted copy of information from a point in time, then we can't reference the information - as my memory is such that I could very easily get information very wrong. In short - if a copy of the information isn't provided that we have little choice but to 'strike it from the record' and ignore it - making the whole 'NDA' exercise worthless all round... As far as I'm concerned this just shows that many vendors simply don't trust or respect their staff or their customers - these are not the vendors I'm interested in working with.

How often are NDA pitches one-way presentations? Sadly all too often :( There are still some good people out there that do genuinely have the sessions as NDA discussions and will influence their roadmaps and/or decisions based on dialogue & requirements - but these are most certainly in the minority.

Whilst I accept some customers may leak NDA information, either consciously or unconsciously, my thoughts are that people should have the courage to penalise those that breach NDA clauses, make an example of them don't penalise those who understand & respect them. But, surely we also need to address the information moving between competitors in the increasingly incestuous IT sales & engineering industry job shuffle (or are lobotomies standard practice in changing jobs between IT suppliers? well now I mention it that would explain many things...,)

A major irony of this is that at least 3 suppliers (eg EeeMSee, SumNotech & SnOracle) all sell commercial IRM/DRM products, but yet they refuse to use these with their own customers for protection of NDA content. Now if this doesn't fit a perfect target use case for IMR/DRM tools then I don't know what would! If partners won't use these products to protect their own content then I sure as heck won't be buying their tools to protect mine! You'd think their own sales teams would be pushing use of the IRM/DRM tools to 'spread the word' so to speak... Either way they should use & trust their DRM tools or kill them...

All of this sadly leaves me to the conclusion that 'NDA briefings' are often now little more than than marketing meetings wrapped in a 'special legal secret sauce' to puff, fluff & massage the ego of the invitees - the "I've been somewhere special" & "I know something you don't" playground taunt factor...

There are words for those who are paid to say & do nice things purely to boost a customers ego - and candidly, I think we'd all rather be with partners than whores!