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InfoQ Homepage News Network Computing Reader Poll: Drop the Buzzwords, Deliver the Goods

Network Computing Reader Poll: Drop the Buzzwords, Deliver the Goods

Respondents to the 2007 Network Computing Readers' Survey are frustrated by the internal strife and snake-oil salesmanship of technology vendors. The survey asked over 700 IT managers to vent about the tech challenges they face every day and how they wish vendors would address these problems. The results, while not pretty, are instructive for both consumers and vendors of software products - it appears the industry still has some way to go to in gaining the trust and respect of their customers.

Projects are still failing for the same old reasons: in response to the question "What's the root cause of your organization's last major IT project failure?" 20% responded with "scope creep", 15% with "Insufficient budget", and only 5% said "we lacked the technical chops."  And, on average, only 28% of key features promised by a salesperson in their last major product rollout were actually present in the delivery, lending credence to the joke appended by one respondent: "How do you know an IT salesperson is promising features he's not entirely sure his product can deliver? His lips are moving."  One example cited was: application was supposed to create a virtual database so that multiple agencies within the court system could enter and update information on the same court cases.  In actuality, changes can be made by only a single agency, which means the other agencies that need to make additions must send paper records, and those changes must be entered manually.
Given these difficulties, it comes as no surprise to hear that IT is still banging heads with the rest of the organization (30%):

Sales people may want to take note that clients are tired of hearing about "empowerment" (29%), and "collaboration" (13%), and they still fail to be impressed with the magic of wikis, saying "a wiki is a wiki is a web page" (47%) , although it's possible that this last issue is compounded by the fact that wikis are usually promoted as collaborative tools, empowering teams.

There's clearly room for improvement, and survey respondents had the opportunity to weigh in on this too.  Transparency and delivery of business-valued software ranked high: respondents recommended that vendors stop "promising capabilities that aren't there" (19%), and "address actual business problems, rather than chasing buzzwords" (25%).

The article includes hints for buyers (Caveat Emptor), including active reference-checking and demonstration of working software (a vendor slideshow is a definite red flag).

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