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Misleading Research

I recently wrote about the silly scuffles that take place in the technology space. One of my favorite ongoing debates lies in determining the viability of a solution in the future based on its current installed base. As I wrote in that entry, The Radicati Group is one of the players involved in this debate. They take a lot of abuse for the IBM Lotus community – some warranted, some not. I don’t intend to take a shot at them directly here, this is just my observation of the debate as a whole and they are the most recent to hit my radar screen.
In May of 2005, they released a “whitepaper” entitled “A Survey of IBM Lotus Messaging Customers”. They state that the reason they conducted the survey was to determine the extent to which customers understood the Lotus Workplace strategy. Why they care is beyond me. I am a customer of IBM who is running Lotus Domino. I have been a consultant, most notably with GE Capital Consulting, involved in creating applications that utilized the collaborative experience of Domino and integrated it into the business processes that facilitate revenue generation. If IBM went out of business tomorrow, our current investment in Domino would serve us well for the next 10 years. If our needs changed, then we would begin identifying solution alternatives.
Do you get my point? Unless I have a need, I’m not wasting my time identifying solutions for problems I don’t remotely have!! So do not be surprised if you send me a survey asking ‘Have you considered switching to XYZ’ if XYZ does not have a bundle of benefits for which I have some need.
The conclusions drawn from this survey are the real kicker. A large percentage of their respondents indicate they have either not made a decision or have decided against Workplace. They say it “does not bode well for the future success of Workplace, or the future of IBM Lotus messaging.” Let’s look at the absurdity of that conclusion through a couple of examples.
Example 1) My wife and I were talking about purchasing an SUV a couple of weeks back when GM had “Employee Pricing for Everyone.” We decided against it. Does that mean we won’t purchase one in the future? NO. It means that we examined our current needs, the bundle of benefits the SUV would provide, and the cost we would incur to obtain it. We decided against it. In a couple of years, we will undoubtedly be in need of a replacement vehicle and will identify solutions at that time. I’ll put money on the fact that we will buy a small SUV.
Example 2) It’s no secret that I’m working on an MBA at Georgia State University. My classmates are from a wide range of companies and industries. When talking about Groove one night, I discovered that none of my IT peers were using or had plans to use Groove. Does that mean Microsoft was stupid for purchasing them? Does it not bode well for the Microsoft Office System strategy? Nope.
The moral of my story is – it’s ok to look at industry research, but have your own requirements and selection criteria in mind as you look at it. Find as much as possible. Also use your personal networks to seek out the experiences of your peers who use the different technologies you are looking at. And talk to their end users, too. If life sucks for them and their productivity is in the toilet because of a particular system, do you want to implement it as well?
Ok. I’m done (again). I now return you to my regular broadcast – already in progress…

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