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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Nick Carr's Predictability and Charles Zedlewski's Probability

Charles Zedlewski had an amusing and organically growing post yesterday that made me laugh. He started off with a simple link to a topically hip article at doomsaying IT, backed by comments from Gartner VP Ken McGee. Note to Gartner: when your subscription marketing plan is based on driving revenue by spreading fear, you are officially supposed to start referring to yourself as a big media outlet rather than an analyst firm. As a blogger, I am willing to do a short briefing with you on this topic.

Charles' initial post was just a simple link and the title - "Nick Carr will write a post about this article in the next 4 hours (probability .8)". He later came back and added his thoughts, which are definitely worth a read. The most hilarious part is that he had the last laugh when Nick finally did post on that article! Nick's comments are also worth reading, but are not too new if you are familiar with his existing comments. He leads with stats about HP consolidating data centers to drop $1B off it's IT budget, which sounds to me like fiscal responsibility rather than the death of IT...

I loved the irony in Charles' post around the 0.8 probability. Gartner's reputation is preceded and perhaps even precluded by their predilection for the decimal-based probability, which I find ridiculous. Maybe I'm just a sucker for substantive and even subjective analysis, but for all of the Gartner research I have read I can't say that I planned to do or not do anything over the decimal. I have had some great conversations with Gartner analysts, such as Gene Phifer who really get their area. So I don't have trouble with the individuals, but I'm not crazy about the Gartner culture or posture. As far as content goes, they could spend a little more time on open source as well - talk about IT not mattering anymore, how about looking at commodity software and ignoring FOSS offerings?

My tastes for analysis have become much more broad in the last couple years. The main firms I look towards are places like RedMonk, Burton Group, and Patricia Seybould Group. Burton in particular has fantastically in-depth and substantive research reports, which I have called out numerous times before. But you also can't beat the fact that all of these firms have bloggers on staff. When you can subscribe to the likes of James Governor, Stephen O'Grady, Cote', Brenda Michelson, Mike Gotta, and Richard Monson-Haefel you find out that your analysis needs change. You see not only their brilliant analysis for free but, perhaps more importantly, see the community dialog around topics of interest. How many analyst firms are actively seeking to build communities among their constituents? The answer is automatic if firms allow or encourage their analysts to blog.

Final note: holding an annual conference or several, while being a schweet boondoggle we all appreciate does not count as building community - there's more to it than that.


At 10:20 AM, Anonymous brenda michelson said...

scott - that is funny! thanks for placing me in such a great group. i think steve and james are setting the tone for the future of (meaningful) IT analysis.


At 12:13 PM, Anonymous james governor said...

brenda that is *very* nice coming from you.

i like nick carr more each day- the serial debunker. he is such a comedian.

thanks Scott!

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Cote' said...

To echo the above comments, thanks for the kind words. We could turn it around and say the same thing about you and a handful of others in the architect space.

Really, as the medium of blogs matures, it's being used to amplify the pragmatic/small-think IT community that's always existed but didn't have the resources or medium to become self-aware and orginized.

That's a little Kool-aidy, but I think it's true. It gets back to the then outlandish statement of Dave Winer about driving tons of money through his blog.

On another note: while I don't see the Ginormous Conferences being "the way," I do have hope for a series of un-conferences. I think there's a place for us analysts to get people together and connect them off-line in the same way that we get them together and connect them offline. But doing big conferences isn't scalable to the emerging ecosystem.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger James McGovern said...

I wonder if Gartner analysts are reading the blogs of folks in the enterprise such as yourself and mines to understand how our tastes for industry analyst research is changing.

As far as Burton Group goes, their security folks such as Gerry Gebel and Dan Blum rock...

At 8:29 AM, Blogger scott said...

Brenda - you're definitely in that group!

James G - I think I need to spend a little more time with Nick's content to get the message. At the moment, he strikes me as just a serial debunker, which is tiring. But that might be an oversimplified assessment.

Cote' - right on with the un-conferences. I missed MinneBar recently, and bummed about it. Hopefully next time - now BarCamps are community events!

James M - I seriously wonder that as well. And thanks for reminding me about Gerry and Dan, I know you mentioned them before and I forgot to sub; need to do that.


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