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Ouch - Cringely Offers Stinging Indictment of IT "Profession"


Bob CringleyBob Cringely in his latest column entitled "Reality Check: What does Gartner really DO?" takes a good whack at the hornet's nest that is the IT industry. Drawing a distinction between "Real engineers" and "IT workers", Cringely argues that the "lack of professionalism in IT" has spawned a symbiotic/parasitic relationship between the advice givers and their customers.

Lumping Gartner and similar analysis firms with IT consultants and vendors, Cringely makes a compelling case that far from helping organizations make sound IT decisions, they in fact provide cover for making stupid ones:

Into this knowledge vacuum come the vendors, who want to sell stuff, and the consultants like Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and the Yankee Group, who need IT managers to feel uncertain about every decision except the decision to buy something, anything. Then look at the number of "research reports" that are commissioned by vendors. Uh-oh.

The five P's of IT are Pride, Prejudice, Politics, Price, and Performance, with the last two being by far the least important. Consultants like Gartner are very useful for minding the pride and politics, their real function being to provide $2 billion worth of IT management CYA per year.

So the saying "the best advice is free" may just be true. If you ever need to make the case for hiring "real" IT professionals into decision making positions as opposed to listening blindly to what "the industry" says, just point folks to this column. Then call me - I know people .


1 - That was one of his best columns: "An unspoken truth."

I think that most people, when presented with an analyst report, takes it at face value without reading the fine print or asking hard questions of the report.

The comments to that article were, for the most part, priceless. Emoticon

Somehow, I don't think that placing the article on the CxO/VP of IT's desks will make much difference. After all:

. . . their real function being to provide $2 billion worth of IT management CYA per year.


2 - Since I deal exclusively with small businesses, the impact of consultant reports is hard to predict. Most SMB's only care about seeing evidence of a similar solution having been put into production and the follow-on ROI and EVA analyses, and I like working with those. It's all about results, price and performance.

In a very few SMB's the person in charge of IT (who rarely has "IT" in his/her job title, and I've never found one at the C-level) reads publications like Computerworld, Infoweek, Wired, PC Magazine or Fast Company and makes IT decisions based on that. Those are often influenced by consultant whitepapers, which as we all know are sometimes less than accurate or completely forthright. In an even smaller segment they IT manager is actually aware of firms like Gartner and reads their reports.

I find the magazine-based IT management the most difficult to reason with. Countering the "but I read it in so-and-so" argument is frustrating when all you have is years in the field actually doing what the journalism majors are writing about. Coming up with credible sources that refute something that's been published is hard when all the common wisdom is so far off from reality, but it's all you can find since none of the people who have actually done it have been cited.

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