According to my esteemed editor, technology has never moved so far and so fast. He contends that the industry is abuzz with terms like “artificial intelligence” (along with its sub-trends of machine learning and cognitive computing), the Internet of Things, blockchain, industrial clouds, big data analytics, digital transformation and many more.
He suggests that it’s no wonder that channel players don’t know which way to jump and goes on to promise that this month’s cover story will unpack some of the latest trends and buzzwords to help the channel navigate a little more clearly.
With this column having been written without the benefit of knowing what my editor has “unpacked” in this issue, one can only hope that he and all other expert contributors to this important topic have worked really hard to avoid the use of “techno-speak” and industry jargon in providing useful insights into today’s technology landscape.
After all, it is a well-established fact that the extensive use of virtually meaningless acronyms used in association with clichés such as “paradigm shifts”, “new-age”, “next generation” and “quantum leaps” are nothing more than marketing or sales hyperbole created by vendors or purveyors of a wide range of products in an attempt to differentiate their offerings.
Selling into the channel and the end user market on the back of a confusing array of acronyms and techno jargon that is used to persuade the buyer that they are investing in technology that is designed to guarantee a “ROI” (return on investment) has been a characteristic of the IT industry since its inception.
In fact, those who were around during the founding days of commercial computing and the launch of personal computing based on what was popularly referred to at the time as the IBM-compatible PC, may remember an adage that was coined in that era that said: “Where there is mystery there is margin.”
This adage referred to the creation by vendors of compelling – but by-and-large totally confusing – reasons why their “cutting edge technology” should be purchased during a period in the technology curve that helped to guarantee high profit margins before competitive activity and commoditisation caught up to force down prices.
The rollout and implementation of the latest trends in technology for little more reason than to satisfy some egotistical quest to be able to claim “first mover” status in the use of some or other “breakthrough” solution is quite often a painful and potentially expensive exercise.
For proof of this look no further than an extremely fundamental example of the frustration that hundreds of millions of users have suffered at various times in their lives when it comes to installing or upgrading to the newest and “greatest yet” version of a well know and pervasive operating system.
How often have early adopters of the latest version of this particular operating system had to suffer through the installation of a host of so-called “fixes” and version updates before the system begins to work as well as it was claimed it would perform when it was first launched?
Perhaps the best way for the channel, and resellers in particular, to navigate the current technological landscape and the hottest trends is to start by defining any technology as nothing more than a tool to be used to enhance the well-being of the user – regardless of how it is used or applied.
Based on the fact that the product or solution is nothing more than a tool in business, at home or at play, the development of two very specific questionnaires needs to be undertaken. Both questionnaires to be completed by the purveyors and promoters of these “latest and greatest” trends before any purchasing decisions are taken.
The first questionnaire be developed around a glossary of terms – what exactly is meant by all the terms, acronyms and other jargon or techno-speak associated with or used to describe the particular product or solution, including specific features etc.
The second questionnaire to be focused on the tangible and measurable benefits to be delivered based on the technology being implemented.
This means, for example, that if the technology is clearly identified as a critical business tool with its features clearly defined and understood as being applicable to the business concerned, then it must be capable of delivering measurable benefits such as the ability to reduce costs, increase productivity, enhance reliability and improve performance in key or specific operational areas, reduce risk, improve compliance etc.
Any failure to answer specific definitions or deliver key benefits based on these two relatively simple questionnaires means that the technology is probably worthless and nothing more than just a passing fad.