13 Apr Double your productivity! Hype that damages technologists' reputations
My Mom, like moms everywhere, once told me that if you couldn’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. But where’s the fun in that?
Occasionally something so egregious happens that it must be addressed. I’m talking, of course, about the latest advertisement for Sharp products.
What’s got my steam vents working overtime is the line, “We doubled your productivity by scanning double-side documents in a single pass.” Oh my. What kind of business do they think I’m in that double-side scanning doubles my productivity? Perhaps I’m a professional intern and didn’t realize it. Or a copyista down at the Kinkos.
Not that I don’t like to get worked up for no reason, but this time it’s tied to a regular theme of this column. Technology, in and of itself, is never a complete solution either in terms of productivity or innovation. When rogue technology marketers suggest otherwise, they only make it harder for the rest of us to be taken seriously in business discussions.
I’ve said it before, I’m saying it now, and I’ll say it again. Applied innovation and improvement with technology requires three things: good technology, good process, and great execution. Anybody who tries to sell you one or two of those as the whole package is trying to pull a fast one. Unfortunately it happens all the time and is a primary cause of project failure rates being stuck in the high double digits despite all our standards, methodologies, and project management.
It’s that last one that catches most folks – great execution.
I’m not talking about great technology execution. I’m talking about great business execution. I’m talking about technologists who have become familiar with the folks in the daily trenches of business, whatever that means for their particular organization, and gotten serious about applying technology in ways that make their activities easier, better, and more effective.
I’m sure somebody in the ad agency who handles Sharp products got a little thrill when they came up with that line. It sounds so good. Unfortunately, we all participate in paying the price for their little jolt. It’s just one more ding in the credibility of all technologists from over-hyping the impact of technology.
Minor or not, it’s a double hit. First, without adding any value, it adds to that din that makes it so hard to get any real attention from anybody. Second, even if we should break through, the first reaction is “Oh, great. Another technologist. Haven’t they learned, yet, that it’s not about the technology?”
I know a lot of technology folks who are working very hard to develop a strong understanding of the businesses they serve. They deserve more than this kind of buzzword babble in return.
I know I shouldn’t be picking on Sharp. They’re far from alone. I’m just trying to not let myself get started on the dumb dinosaur ads that seem to imply being one rev off current in commodity software is some kind of crisis, or the annoying “help desk” and “virtual classroom” that always has room for one more wild exaggeration of impact.
Will this kind of hype ever change? Probably not. There’s too much competition to capture that next customer, too much pressure to get bigger and better all the time. I don’t get on this pre-programmed rant to make it go away, but rather to provide some balance, to provide another perspective.
I like to think that it’s helpful when a technology insider calls for a true accounting of technology value. I’m not the only one who can play that role. I’d be happy if you decided you wanted to play too.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.