Five Things I'd Like For Christmas
By Mark Jordan, This Week's Expert
The end of the week is here. Thank goodness. I went into this with an "Opus" (Thanks, Bob Cherny...) Mind, I think. When I reviewed what I'd written, I sort of felt like the Grinch, with so much focus on things that are wrong. It's worth noting that there are a lot of things that are good too, even if they're going through birthing and/or growing pains. Still, our biggest challenges are in determining what's yet to be born, what's not ready to walk, which one is the troublemaker, and which one is trainable. And somewhere out there, amidst all the churning, is that child that just is special, gifted and always does everything just right. We just shouldn't settle for something else while we wait, unless we've really examined it and it still looks good. So with that in mind, and with feeling like a Grinch reminding me of Christmas, I thought I'd close with five things I'd like to see under my tree on Christmas morning.
1) All the Internet hype neatly packaged up and ready for burning - Wouldn't that be a lovely gift? I surveyed six technology companies today, and do you know what every single one of them said in statements about themselves? They said they were the [sic] "leading provider of" and then went on to roughly describe the same product set. Everybody can't be the leader, can they? Just reading about the various technology offerings is like walking into a Carnival Barkers' Convention...imagine no more words like "revolutionary," "cutting edge," "redefining" and the latest buzz set, "getting visibility into.." What the heck is that? When did butchers get into the language business? So, this would be a great gift if I could just toss the whole package in the fire and roast some chestnuts.
2) Truth in literature, demos and promises - If you read all the literature, at least two of the technology companies are in 400 of the 500 Fortune 500. If that's true, then they're not really doing a very good job centralizing purchasing. Or, something's not true. Or, it's true, but not really. Another tech company announced its one millionth RFP. Wow. But then elsewhere they said that on average, each meeting generates 9 RFPs. I wasn't great in math, but I think that it means they really have generated 100,000 or so UNIQUE RFPs, and 900,000 copies. Now, I'd be impressed with 100,000 unique RFPs..why aren't they? Maybe because they haven't answered the really relevant questions. How many of those became confirmed business? or...How many of those were even responded to by the vendors who received them? One million RFPs is a staggering number - who could wade into that? 100,000 is a bit easier to wrestle with, so it would be easier to ask how many came directly from paying corporate and association customers, and how many came from the sourcing partners and resellers they've stocked the roster with by contracting attractive deals? Honesty in delivery dates for new releases, less scripted demos, clear statements of which is functionality and which is vapor, how easy is it really to learn and use? We're grown-ups here - if we like the potential of a particular technology, we can weather a bit of disappointment, or wait a bit, but only if we're prepared for it? Yep, complete truth would be neat gift, and it would be a gift that would help the giver immensely too.
3) A Signed, Framed Commitment to develop technology based on the way people work, and not on the way someone else wants you to work - I don't think much needs to be said here. Call me silly but I don't think you'd need outsourcing and implementation consultants if the technology was a little more "built-from-the-user-up" and less from "someone's-head-down." A great gift, but very expensive, I know...
4) An early Christmas Gift of World Series tickets for the Mets and whomever this fall - That's primarily so I can take Dave McCann to the games as a way of thanking him for letting me ramble on this week, and for me, so I can get out of Philadelphia long enough to root for my childhood team without having people spitting on me from above and shouting things that they appear to be reading off the bathroom walls. Or writing on them...
5) My Dream Software - It's fast, flexible, modular, customizable (without taking six months to do it), built to my specifications as well as yours, something I can't wait to work with (not can't wait to turn off) works anywhere, wireless or not, doesn't force me to know HTML or java script to make it look cool, and doesn't force me into the constraints of templates that I have to regularly break anyway. And it works with some of the other tools I use frequently to get my work done. I know it's out there, or on the horizon - I just have to be good enough for the next year or so. I can do that. I think. Well, it shouldn't really depend on me being good, so I'll add that to the definition. "Does not depend on Mark being good." There
Be smart, ask the logical questions, and wherever possible, get documentation of the facts. Even dare to ask for guarantees. You probably won't get them, but it's still fun to watch their faces. I think I saw that somebody just announced that they now have a Meeting Estimator. Can you imagine? You just plug in some cities, pick some departure points, the number of people leaving from each point and Shazam! The computer tells what your meeting will cost in each of those cities. Very cool. I think I'll just ask one question. Will they guarantee that the numbers that were cranked out will be within 5% of my ultimate spend if i pick one of the cities?
Could they assure me that the cost elements accurately reflect a meeting of the size that I have to plan? Can they assure me I won't miss a hotel somewhere else who might have the perfect property and deal for me, easily beating the estimates for the recommended cities. Can they assure me that the airfares won't have changed radically into the city I pick, because 3 weeks went by before people started booking their tickets? And so on, and so, and so on....
I'm glad I modified the definition of my gift in number 5 - I knew I couldn't be good.