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Monday, 11 August 2014

Calling a spade a @£$!% spade!

A few posts back, I called out Forrester Research for propagating a technology-centric approach to Master Data Management (MDM). Today, it's a vendor's turn to be on the receiving end of my irascibility.

This video segment titled "Information Governance, buy now or pay later", was posted to BitPipe.com by storage vendor CommVault, which starts out by broadly describing a view of what "Information Governance" is. However, it then immediately goes on to describe the issues and rationale for better and more disciplined data storage.

Now it's bad enough that as an industry, we're guilty of having multiple terminologies for the same thing. This leads to confusion at best, obfuscation at worst. It's the Information Management equivalent of struggling about whether to to call something a spade or a shovel. And it's even worse that we see vendor companies actively inventing (ugly) new language to try and give the impression that what they're doing is fresh, innovative and exciting. (I'm accusing both product vendors and systems integrator/consulting services business here!) Whereas more often that not, they're just re-badging existing ideas to fit with the latest round of Bullshit Bingo hype. "Manually operated excavation device", anyone?

It's this sort of thing that's given us Decision Support System (DSS), Management Information System (MIS), Business Performance Measurement (BPM), Business Performance Management (BPM), Business Intelligence (BI), Operational Intelligence (OI), Online Analytical Processing (OLAP), Business Optimisation and Analytics (BOA), "Big Data" etc. All, effectively, describing the same damned thing.

But to my mind, what is going on in this CommVault commentary is something even more pernicious and potentially disingenuous. This is a classic example of "bait and switch" language use that is all too prevalent within our industry;  the new, exciting capability (in this case "Information Governance") becomes a bandwagon used to to re-badge products from a completely different domain (such as CommVault's backup & storage tools). 

CommVault have started out describing a spade/shovel, and then gone on to try and sell you a skip.

If the segment had been called "Data Storage Management, buy now or pay later," then I wouldn't have an issue (although data storage isn't at all exciting or vibrant, is it?!) And in any event, I can see why a product vendor like CommVault might want to do this - buyer beware, says I. 

To propagate such muddle-headed thinking just isn't good enough in my view. We should all look to the "Big-A" Analyst and Market Research firms like Garter, Forrester and IDC to provide better guidance which clarifies and helps navigate this mess, not add to it.  That requires more rigour, more care, more thought. Fast-and-loose with language doesn't do anyone any favours and vendors, integrators, IT departments and end-users all end up losing out.

So, until such time as we finally get our data/information stable cleaned up and all the sh*t shovelled into neat piles, it's up to those of us who have the temerity to define our terms before proceeding to try to hold the line, continue to raise awareness, and hold the industry at large to account. 

It's an uphill task, I have no doubt! 

1 comment:

  1. Significant follow-up discussion on this topic on a LinkedIn thread, here: