Last week while at the grandly titled Cloud Computing World Forum, Jon Reed and I took the opportunity to sit down with John Harris, GlaxoSmithKline. We were talking to him in his capacity as part of the Corporate IT Forum leadership rather than his role with GSK.
Since the news of Larry Ellison's antics at Oracle's cloud launch was fresh in our minds we asked whether the public pronouncements made by vendor CEO's really matter to buyers. The answer was a surprising 'yes.' It turns out that while peer networking and experience exchange is top of the 'influence' list, technology CXOs do take notice and do make judgments based upon what they hear.
What direction are those conversations taking? Harris drew the comparison between Apple and the 'more traditional...older players.' He said that when Apple releases a product 'you know it's there,' but when older vendors talk technology, 'there is a healthy discussion around whether it is real.' He also drew the comparison with Cloudforce, which was in London a couple of weeks back. He says that many of his peers were in the audience and that they do see real movement in that realm. That resonates very well with my impressions from that event.
Conventional wisdom among my analyst colleagues says that much of the Silicon Valley slugfest stuff is really inside baseball and that nobody cares outside those with an intimate understanding of the companies and players involved. Some just dismiss it as 'marketing.' Well fine, but it is clearly much more than that.
If Harris is truly representative of what his peers believe is capturing attention, then some vendors will have to change their game or be relegated to sideshow status.
What was more surprising to us is that Harris says he wants his daily reading to include plenty of stories. He doesn't care for re-written press releases, vendor driven verbiage and the like. No news there in one sense but I was encouraged to hear Harris talking in those terms because it should serve as an encouragement to vendors but from another angle.
For far too long, vendors have only been prepared to allow super filtered and sanitized stories to come out of their user communities and into the public domain. I've said forever that this is counter productive because they end up looking false or heavily censored. I can almost write those scripts in my sleep they are so pat. I wonder how many vendor marketing and PR departments will read this and think about what this means going forward?
Transparency as a reality or continuing to play lip service? My sense is that the companies who market from a real world position are going to be far more warmly received than those who use every TLA they can muster but are ultimately full of hot air.