Over the past 20 years, I have had many different roles in IT. I’ve been a helpdesk jockey, professor/instructor, sysadmin, developer, support engineer, escalation engineer, and now consultant. I’ve worked with a variety of industries as well. I’ve been both a customer and an employee of a Fortune 100 software company. As I have moved into various roles through my career, I’ve simultaneously watched the growth of the IT community in pontificating in various mediums ranging from community forums to full-blown tabloid tech journalism. I’ve learned what kind of statements garner respect and attention and what are often dismissed as hyperbole or sensationalism.
The bloggers are supposed to represent the users and/or IT pros – the “pulse” of the community. In many cases the quality of the bloggers are positive as they derived excellent content and insights due to one or more of the following factors:
Experience: A blogger will likely be taken seriously if they have the experience to back up what they are talking about. This is why the best insights often come buried deep inside of community forums and not necessarily on the site of a full-time blogger or tech journal. Why? Because blogging is not their job. They ARE an IT Pro. Blogging is merely a hobby.
Depth of Analytical Thought: They demonstrate an outstanding aptitude for critical thinking. Even if the source is focused towards a specific vendor (or as many say – biased) the analysis is spot on.
Depth of Technical Thought: Simply – they know the technology inside and out. They yield a wealth of technical information and for that reason alone, they often command respect.
I am here to tell you the influence bloggers have on software vendors and products often depend on how they engage and embrace the community around the vendor and its products – regardless of how they may “bash” a product or feature or “praise” it. If the community respects the blogger, their stature increases with the software vendor. If the blogger is simply ranting or spilling out hyperbole for the sole purpose of “click-bait,” that can come back to haunt them. This is often a challenge for full-time bloggers who are often selling advertisements to generate revenue or perhaps are freelancing for a journal who pays them literally by the click.
When you build up that large amount of overhead you need to keep those clicks and ad views going, the blogger has no choice but to be a provocateur to remain relevant in the IT tabloid media that those same bloggers helped to create. When an IT analyst or an IT research firm publishes opinions or assessments, they are always taken more seriously as they represent a wealth of combined experiences and knowledge bases. They approach product, technology, and industry analysis in a much more scientific and data-driven process. The research firms publish both the analytical and the technical depth in every case.
Since most major software vendors, at least in the US, are publicly traded, it is Wall Street that ultimately has the most influence on its direction. in IT, your shareholders are often your customers as well.
I’d been wanting to write an article on this subject for a while, but this week, I was inspired to the write this article after reading three distinct articles relating to RDS/VDI –a technology I worked in extensively. I have the unique opportunity to cite examples of an attempt of influence by a blogger, a group of analysts, and a group of investors in a very busy week for the VDI industry.
http://www.brianmadden.com/blogs/brianmadden/archive/2015/06/10/server-os-based-vdi-is-an-official-quot-feature-quot-of-windows-server-2016-apparently-microsoft-plans-to-continue-screwing-us-for-years-to-come.aspx – Basically, Brian Madden still hates how Microsoft does VDI. In other news, the Sun came out this morning.
The Analysts: http://www.gartner.com/document/3072722 – a brutally honest assessment by Gartner on why VDI is not ready for the cloud and what it will take to get VDI to a true cloud-based DaaS (Desktop as a Service.)
The Investors: http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/06/citrix-systems-inc-ctxs-elliott-associates-letter/ The investment Group Elliott Management reveal their desires for change at Citrix (the leader in VDI) in an open letter to its CEO and Board of Directors.
Which of those three articles that I mentioned do I pay the most attention to? Well, I always trust analysis over hyperbole – but money trumps all.