Telling The Truth

from the what-a-concept dept

Anonymous coward writes “‘We’ve entered the Age of Disbelief, and one of the casualties seems to be high-tech companies that can’t quite tell the truth. And that is, it takes time and effort to make technology work within the business environment.’ See the article It’s time to tell the truth by Jim Carroll.” It’s a pretty good article arguing what we’ve been talking about for years. Most tech companies are all about hype and misleading statements. It’s difficult to find a company that honestly tells people what it does, and what you’ll get from them. It’s as if the companies don’t even trust their own products – so they need to hype them up beyond what they can do.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Telling The Truth”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Dale Gardner says:

An Imperfect Messenger...

High tech is clearly an industry – one among many – that’s addicted to hype, and a thoughtful, suggestive analysis of what impact that addiction has on the market would be quite useful. But this column isn’t it – it’s little more than a hack piece from somebody who seems well acquainted with the topic of hype from a personal perspective.

Apparently in need of a column, Carroll trots out a little vendor bashing. Not that it isn’t deserved – although he paints issues with a braod brush. Am I really to believe that so many projects have failed because of vendor lies? What role did users play? Maybe poor execution was a factor. Unclear goals? I’d suggest it’s a bit more complicated than Carroll’s simplistic and self-serving analysis would suggest.

And speaking of hype, why does Carroll leave out the media? As they say, it takes two to tango – and without unquestioning journalists who pass along all this hype unquestioned, there’s not going to be much dancing. Could Carroll be overlooking the failure of journalists to question all this because – gasp – that criticism might fall a bit close to home? Visit his website and you’ll learn he’s the author of over 30 books and a motivational speaker. Too bad he doesn’t list the titles as only a few show up on Amazon. But I’m sure they were all timeless tomes, chockfull of great advice.

After all, if we look at one of his latest books – Selling Online: How To Be A Successful eCommerce Merchant, published less than a year ago – we learn that even though the online marketplace lies in dissarray, ecommerce presents great opportunities to seel to an audience that’s growing by millions every year. All you have to do is buy the book and follow his directions. It must be good – it’s “published with the support and cooperation of Visa.” I’m sure the ads for Visa’s merchant services on the inside flaps dudn’t influence the author in any way.

Talk about hype…

Jim Carroll (user link) says:

Re: An Imperfect Messenger...

Well, I became aware that there was a posting about my article over here, so let me respond:
re Selling Online. Well, perhaps if you look into facts, you’d realize you’d be rather embarassed for such an attack without knowing where I come from in that book.
Indeed, Chapter 1 of the book states, right up front, before we get into any issues “What is the biggest problem on the Internet today?
Inexperienced people with overinflated expectations who create online stores with the belief that once they?ve done the work, the dollars will roll in. We?d like to suggest that the most important thing you can do in your venture into the world of selling online is to take a serious look at your likelihood for success. Before you begin thinking about setting up an online store, face some cold, hard facts about the reality of retail on the Internet.
The fact is, you might not succeed.
You might create an online store only to find that no one is aware of it. You might fail to sell anything online. You might be trying to sell a product that no one has an interest in purchasing. You might be destroyed by competition that is far more Internet-savvy, and that has far deeper pockets than you. You might not be able to keep your inventory up-to-date, or you might have problems in filling the orders you do receive.
The fact is, your online store might come nowhere close to meeting your expectations ? with disastrous results.”
So let’s see — we are very upfront in the book (it goes on in this chapter in this vein) in making people aware that they had better disabuse themselves of the notion that selling online is about getting rich quick or that it is going to be easy….
So you might want to drop the notion that I’m some wild-eyed idiot who suggested people rush off willy nilly into the online world. But I suppose you were just ready to attack, and didn’t want to look at facts.
Visa? yes, the book was sponsored by VISA. They had no editorial influence. Indeed, you might find the references to Mastercard and American Express throughout to be of interest. But oh, no, you just wanted to attack the notion.
Thank heavens you aren’t a journalist — you certainly seem to have a one-track mind!

Previous to that, you set out to attack the “media,” and you draw a broad brush stroke here by implying all journalists were guilty of hyping the Internet during the years.
Well, let’s look at a few of my article along the way during the idiocy years:’s have their own math (1999)
in which I indicated how things were clearly getting out of hand with hysteria careers among riskiest (Feb 2000)
I actually advised, at the height of the ‘exodus,’ that people should stay away because they were about to collapse — big time. I actually took a lot of abuse for this article, but was proven right two months later.
There are many more articles like this. But you didn’t want to see that — you simply wanted to attack the media, and put me in the guilty party.
Well, you know what? Some out here were extremely angry, pissed off, and disbelieving at how fraudulent things had become during those years, and wrote about it loudly and proudly….or spoke about it on TV. I’d be pleased to point you to several TV interviews in which I was warning people off of investing because they were destined to lose their shirts.
But oh no — I write for the media! Therefore, I am guilty by association!
So no, I’m sorry, your idea that the criticism falls close to home, isn’t quite true, because I am quite proud of the fact that I stuck to my guns and called it for what it was — blatant fraud.

Uh, yes, I’m a speaker. What’s wrong with that? I’ve got a good track record — see the above — so people like my honest insight. Fact is, I’ve been right on how things are evolving for some twenty years now, and people think I do a good job at that.

So before you attack, you *too* might want to do your homework.
Otherwise, your criticism looks a tad unfounded….

Of course, you have *one* good point, and that is user expectations/scope creep, as many people have pointed out to me since.
Might I suggest in the future that before you set out to attack something, you research it a little?

Dale Gardner says:

Re: Re: An Imperfect Messenger...

Embarrassed by my attack? I’m embarrassed by the many spelling errors I seem to have made. And I apologize if you took my criticisms as a personal attack or if the tone was overly harsh. But no, I’m not embarrassed by what I wrote.
There are a variety of issues with your column that support my assertion that it’s a simplistic and self-serving analysis.
First, you note that IBM pre-announced an earnings surprise and suggested that people should not have been surprised. As you put it, “…the fact that yet another high-tech company is discovering that its customers are less prepared to plow money into technology and business solutions shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.” I’d suggest the shock wasn?t from the nature of the announcement, but its source: IBM. IBM has not pre-announced an earnings shortfall in over a decade and has done so only three times in its history, according to Dow Jones. Like it our not, it?s a surprise.
You then leap to the conclusion that “The mistrust has become so extreme that it is a huge problem, and is likely the root cause for the rapid downturn in corporate spending on technology initiatives.” I’m sorry if this upsets you, but that seems like a heck of leap of logic. Forgive me for thinking that a recession and terrorist attacks might have played a significant role in prompting managers to reassess and defer or cancel major expenditures.
Frankly, if mistrust were really the root cause, we might expect to see an across the board reduction in technology spending – but that’s not what seems to be happening. Look at software, there’s great variability according to the Gartner Group.
3 December 2001
Most-Likely Forecast Growth (Percent)
Market 2001 2002 2003
Network and Systems
Management 1.1 3 7.3
Application Integration and
Middleware 11.9 13.5 13.7
Database Management
Systems -1.8 1.6 3.5
Security 12.1 18 15.6
Supply Chain Management 4.2 6 12
Customer Relationship
Management -8 0 10
Enterprise Resource Planning -26 -10 0
Internet Commerce Sell-Side -30 3 10
Internet Commerce Buy-Side -35 3 15
Interesting – mostly flat or growing for 2002, although the bloom is clearly off the rose. What does Gartner see as the dominant market inhibitors?
Tight financial controls
Limited discretionary investment
Increased mergers and acquisitions
So I’m not sure the reasoning stands up. Is hype a problem? You bet. Are vendors to blame? Partly – but there’s not a lot of high moral ground to stand on from my perspective.
By the way, can you provide a citation or link to the Standish data? In visiting their website, I cam across some data from 1994 and if I’m making the comparisons correctly, application deployments have actually improved. I’d like to make sure I’m comparing apples with apples.
Bottom Line: By your column, we should be laying the blame for hype squarely at the feet of the vendors ? and the vendors alone. That?s wrong ? I don?t think anybody gets out of this one blameless.
As for the book, I have not read the book so it?s not fair to comment as to any potential bias. In looking at the sample pages at Amazon, I do see two ads on the inside covers and you offer two chapters on credit cards, totaling about 15% of the content. That may be appropriate, but I?ll have to reserve judgment.

Jim Carroll (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: An Imperfect Messenger...

>As for the book, I have not read the book so it?s not fair to comment as to any potential bias. In looking at the sample pages at Amazon, I do see two ads on the inside covers and you offer two chapters on credit cards, totaling about 15% of the content. That may be appropriate, but I?ll save to reserve judgment.

How nice of you. Slip in a few unwarranted criticims, and then still leave them dangling there….

Well. I was reading Busines Week Magazine last night. There was an ad for Cadillac. Forbes did an article that did a fair job cutting up Cadillac’s business strategy. But I know that BW’s article was *tainted* because of that ad.
Oh, and it had a ad for Apple, but I *know* that *everything* BW has ever written by Apple has been tainted.
Yes, sirree! Anything that runs an ad is tainted! Heck, go to a sports stadium that features a marquee name, and the game is tainted! That’s the way the world works!
> you offer two chapters on credit cards,
> totaling about 15% of the content.
Well, you seem fixated on attacking the book without looking at it, so let me put it into perspective.
We focus on credit card payment systems because most online stores (95%+ according to multiple surveys) use that as the primary means of accepting payment. We outline how to get a merchant account — and describe to people what that is, because few people seem to know that. We walk through payment transaction systems/Internet payment gateways, describing what someone needs to look for in making an intelligent decision about a payment processor……because most people end up spending more here than they need to….fewer still understand what features are important (and this has little to do with the credit card companies…)
And one of those two chapters spends the entire time looking at security issues, of which the issue of ensuring the safety of credit card transactions takes up a few pages. Most of the rest takes a practical look at issues of server security, site security, best practices….
So yah’, it’s all tainted, and a big walking advertisement. Right.
If you’d care to read a review by someone who has actually *read* the book, rather than delve on thoughts by someone who seems to think that any book that features a sponsor name is *bad*, then have a look at Ralph Wilson’s review.
Oh, but be careful, because he features a few sponsor links on his site, and so his perspective must be entirely tainted!


Jim Carroll (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: An Imperfect Messenger...

According to Merrill Lynch, overall we are seeing but 1-2% growthn in spending, compared to growth rates of 20% plus in prior years.

I stand by my assertion that the corporate sector remains suspicious. Yes, scope creep is a part of the problem — it has always been — but the simple fact remains that senior management in many organizations seems to no longer view technology with the same degree of strategic thinking as they have in the past…..

As for the stats on project failures, the data comes from several articles that I’ve obtained through Dow Jones Interactive. Obviously I can’t post them here due to copyright. But:

Standish Group, “Extreme CHAOS 2001,” reported in J. Johnson, K. Boucher, K. Connors, and J. Robinson, “The Criteria for Success,” Software Magazine, February 1, 2001, p. S3.

Using software project “should-cost” models
Larry Murphy, 01/01/2001, AACE International Transactions

Managing the development of information products: An experiential learning strategy for product developers, T M Skelton, 02/01/2002, Technical Communication

01/01/2002, Managing Accounting Systems and Technology

The list goes on…

Be careful though! Many of these publications feature ads, and so they are all probably just corporate-whores whose opinions have been bought out!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...