In the spirit of Halloween and zombies season, a couple of thoughts come to mind about vendor tricks and treats. This is an industry trends and perspectives post, part of an ongoing series looking at various technology and fun topics.
The first trick or treat game pertains to the blame game; you know either when something breaks, or at the other extreme, before you have even made a decision to buy something. The trick or treat game for decision-making goes something like this.
Vendor "A" says products succeed with their solution while failure results with solution from "B" when doing "X". Otoh, vendor "B" claims that "X" will fail when using a solution from vendor "A". In fact you can pick what you want to substitute for "X", perhaps VDI, Big Data, Little Data, Backup, Archive, Analytics, Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, eDiscovery you name it.
This is not complicated math or big data problem requiring a high performance computing (HPC) platform. A HPC Zetta-Flop processing ability using 512 bit addressing of 9.9 (e.g. 1 nine) PettaBytes of battery backed DRAM and an IO capability of 9.99999 (e.g. 5 9’s) trillion 8 bit IOPS to do table pivots or runge kutta numerical analysis, map reduce, SAS or other modeling with optional iProduct or Android interface are not needed.
StorageIO images of touring Texas Advanced Computing (e.g. HPC) Center
Can you solve this equation? Hint it does not need a PhD or any other advance degree. Another hint, if you have ever been at any side of the technology product and services decision-making table, regardless of the costume you wore, you should know the answer.
Of course the question of would "X" fail regardless of who or what "A" or "B" let alone a "C", "D" or "F"? In other words, it is not the solution, technology, vendor or provider, rather the problem or perhaps even lack thereof that is the issue. Or is it a case where there is a solution from "A", "B" or any others that is looking for a problem, and if it is the wrong problem, there can be a wrong solution thus failure?
Another trick or treat game is vendors public relations (PR) or analyst relations (AR) people to ask for one thing and delivery or ask another. For example, some vendor, service provider, their marketing AR and PR people or surrogates make contact wanting to tell of various success and failure story. Of course, this is usually their success and somebody else’s failure, or their victory over something or someone who sometimes can be interesting. Of course, there are also the treats to get you to listen to the above, such as tempt you with a project if you meet with their subject, which may be a trick of a disappearing treat (e.g. magic, poof it is gone after the discussion).
There is another AR and PR trick and treat where they offer on behalf of their representative organization or client to a perspective or exclusive insight on their competitor. Of course the treat from their perspective is that they will generously expose all that is wrong with what a competitor is saying about their own (e.g. the competitors) product.
Let me get this straight, I am not supposed to believe what somebody says about his or her own product, however supposed to believe what a competitor says is wrong with the competitions product, and what is right with his or her own product.
Hmm, ok, so let me get this straight, a competitor say "A" wants to tell me what somebody say from "B" has told me is wrong and I should schedule a visit with a truth squad member from "A" to get the record set straight about "B"?
Does that mean then that I go to "B" for a rebuttal, as well as an update about "A" from "B", assuming that what "A" has told me is also false about themselves, and perhaps about "B" or any other?
Too be fair, depending on your level of trust and confidence in either a vendor, their personal or surrogates, you might tend to believe more from them vs. others, or at least until you been tricked after given treats. There may be some that have been tricked, or they tried applying to many treats to present a story that behind the costume might be a bit scary.
Having been through enough of these, and I candidly believe that sometimes "A" or "B" or any other party actually do believe that they have more or better info about their competitor, and that they can convince somebody about what their competitor is doing better than the competitor can. I also believe that there are people out there who will go to "A" or "B" and believe what they are told by based on their preference, bias or interests.
When I hear from vendors, VARs, solution or service providers and others, it’s interesting hearing point, counter point and so forth, however if time is limited, I’am more interested in hearing from such as "A" about them, what they are doing, where success, where challenges, where going and if applicable, under NDA go into more detail.
Customer success stories are good, however again, if interested in what works, what kind of works, or what does not work, chances are when looking for G2 vs. GQ, a non-scripted customer conversation or perspective of the good, the bad and the ugly is preferred, even if under NDA. Again, if time is limited which it usually is, focus on what is being done with your solution, where it is going and if compelled send follow-up material that can of course include MUD and FUD about others if that is your preference.
Lets not forget about the trick where the vendor marketing or PR person reaches out and says that the CEO, CMO, CTO or some other CxO or Chief Jailable Officer (CJO) wants to talk with you. Part of the trick is when the CxO actually makes it to the briefing and is not ready, does not know why the call is occurring, or, thinks that a request for an audience has been made with them for an interview or something else.
A treat is when 3 to 4 minutes into a briefing, the vendor or solution provider has already framed up what and why they are doing something. This means getting to what they are announcing or planning on doing and getting into a conversation to discuss what they are doing and making good follow-up content and resources available.
Sometimes a treat is when a briefer goes on auto pilot nailing their script for 29 of a 30 minute session then use the last-minute to ask if there are any questions. The reason autopilot briefings can be a treat is when they are going over what is in the slide deck, webex, or press release thus affording an opportunity to get caught up on other things while talk at you. Hmm, perhaps need to consider playing some tricks in reward for those kind of treats? 😉
Do not be scared, not everybody is out to trick you with treats, and not all treats have tricks attached to them. Be prepared, figure out who is playing tricks with treats, and who has treats without tricks.
Oh, and as a former IT customer, vendor and analyst, one of my favorites is contact information of my dogs to vendors who require registration on their web sites for basic things such as data sheets. Another is supplying contact information of competing vendors sales reps to vendors who also require registration for basic data sheets or what should otherwise be generally available information as opposed to more premium treats. Of course there are many more fun tricks, however lets leave those alone for now.
Note: Zombie voting rules apply which means vote early, vote often, and of course vote for those who cannot include those that are dead (real or virtual).
Watch out for tricks and treats, have a safe and fun Zombie (aka Halloween) season.