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2014′s New Years anti-resolutions in IT...

02 Jan 2014

For the past several years, I have written a series of blog posts on anti-resolutions for the new 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 is enough reason for me not to 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 organisations should do. This anti-thing seems to be catching on.

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.

Don’t describe your new product as “Dropbox for the Enterprise”

This is definitely the most over-used meme of 2013 for me. I have heard dozens of startups or established companies with a new offering believe they are clever by using this phrase as if they were the first ones to think of it. You aren’t. Just stop it. Not only is Dropbox itself claiming this role, so are dozens of others.

Don’t ask if going to a cloud provider will save money if you don’t know how much you spend now

Cost savings are a tricky thing. Everyone wants them, and wants to know if “going to the cloud” will bring them. But sometimes it is as if users expect cost savings to drop to the ground like rain. “If the day is cloudy, then it probably will rain so everyone gets wet. If my IT is cloudy, then it probably is cheaper, so everyone gets rich.” Stop thinking that.

A cloud infrastructure can indeed save money, but not always. I realise that “it depends” is an irritating answer to get from an anlyst, but sometimes we can’t avoid it. Potential savings depend on what you are spending now. If you don’t know that, then it will be pretty hard to know if making any kind of change will result in savings or maybe even increased costs.

Don’t look for “Best practices that provide a competitive advantage”

A best practice is something that everyone else is already doing. If everyone is doing it, it won’t give you a competitive advantage. It still might be worth doing, to lower risk or catch up with the competition.

But it won’t help you crush competitors. To do that you need to innovate, and innovation does not live inside of a best practice. Innovation is much harder to find, and much more fun.

Don’t start your product briefing with 15 slides on industry trends

I listen to many product briefings along with other analysts. Waaaaay too many of them start with descriptions of what is going on in the industry. We get it. We think about and write about industry trends all of the time. If we don’t get it, then you probably should not waste your time talking to us.

Chances are, you are presenting something we wrote or what our competitors are saying that we probably agree with. Skip this and get to the description of why your product is different and better.

Big Data is not about reporting. Stop acting like it is

I have heard several discussions supposedly about the potential benefits of big data that go no further than what business intelligence and good reporting tools have always been able to do. You don’t need big data to see how sales are going across different regions, or to review inventory levels.

That is called Reporting. Big data lets you do something new, something that wasn’t possible before either because you didn’t have access to the data or because the tools to make sense of that much data weren’t available.

Things like using government demographic data to decide where to place you next retail outlet (data wasn’t available before); collecting sensor data from your products to improve quality (data didn’t exist before you collected it); scanning transactional data for new buying patterns (tools to make sense of the data weren’t available until recently). If it ain’t new, it ain’t worth talking about.

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I will not give up on this.

By Jeffrey Mann - Research VP, Gartner