There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and IT survey statistics

I would have thought that given the number of IT surveys we see floating past us these days that more tech bloggers would have referenced the phrase attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and also associated with Mark Twain when we look at these things, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”I took degree-level stats when I studied Economics - and two years of Monday 9am-11am lectures at Wolverhampton Poly is going to leave its scars on anyone right?

I would have thought that given the number of IT surveys we see floating past us these days that more tech bloggers would have referenced the phrase attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and also associated with Mark Twain when we look at these things, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

I took degree-level stats when I studied Economics - and two years of Monday 9am-11am lectures at Wolverhampton Poly is going to leave its scars on anyone right? Statistical reports are so “loaded” these days that, for me, they rank alongside horoscopes in terms of their validity for insight into IT trends and future developments.

Added to this, a pal of mine used to work in marketing for a storage enclosure company. Now, SATA RAID backplane enclosures not being the sexiest item on the IT newsreel, he conjured up a press release with the following theme, “Two thirds of SMEs risk bankruptcy in the next 18 months if they fail to adopt progressive storage strategies.”

Where did he get this statistic you may ask? Well, most people didn’t - and so he got some great press coverage out of that exercise.

My English teacher at school’s first job was on a local newspaper, where on her first morning she was told to, “Go and make the horoscopes up.”

Do you see where I am going with this?

So, when I received a note overnight that informed me that, “Two thirds of IT managers are blinded by complexity of management tools,” and that, “Overly complex IT management tools are costing large businesses more than £4.5million annually.” My initial reaction was not to phone the good people at NASDAQ and let then them know about this revelation.

You guessed it; research launched today by business transaction management company OpTier is alerting us to spiraling levels of complexity in IT management set-ups. Sarcasm aside, they did at least speak to 2,000 decision makers at businesses of 1,000+ employees – and I’ve seen similar surveys seemingly based on not much more than a group of DBAs that someone bumped into down the pub.

So was there any substance in this report? OpTier reckons that more than two thirds of businesses are using more than three tools to monitor the IT environment and 16 per cent are using more than five. The company also estimates that 72 per cent of businesses are relying on using server/network uptime as a measure of business service visibility.

If the lack of a so-called ‘single management approach’ is adding an extra layer of complexity and one of the main issues is that IT managers need to see every transaction performed by all users on applications – then maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel given the amount of consolidation that is still going on in the IT industry.

What I mean is that as HP buys Compaq and Oracle buys Sun and so on and so on, then surely we’re centralising from an application foundation point of view aren’t we? Won’t this ultimately lead to more unified systems born out a single native approach? Will open source development add to or complicate this equation if it plays out this way? Who can say.

Whatever happens, do you think anything will it stop IT management tool companies putting out statistics-based press releases? I think you know the answer.

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