Enterprise software: Beware the loud voices of charlatan thought leaders

Beware of advisors who lack experience and give you bad advice. Never hesitate to ask consultants, analysts, and other thought leaders the tough questions.

Many enterprise business processes have lots of moving parts; as a result, software tends to be complicated to develop and challenging to purchase. Consider the complicated flow of information through a manufacturing company, for example, or the steps needed to execute financial accounting in a large company. Layer on issues like security, scalability, cost, and risk and it becomes clear why many buyers find enterprise software daunting.


This situation gives rise to pundits, analysts, bloggers, buyer advocates, market influencers, evangelists, and other so-called thought leaders  who weigh in with opinions and advice. Although some of these folks possess incredible experience and excellent judgment, others talk well but offer little substance.

A recent blog post by my friend, Vijay Vijayasankar, describes his frustration with influencers lacking the experience to render solid advice. Vijay is an executive at IBM who helps determine the SAP products and technologies in which IBM will invest; He works closely with IBM customers and therefore represents the voice of genuine experience.

Vijay directs his comments specifically to issues around the cloud, but the issue is relevant to a broad range of topics:

A lot of evangelists of cloud, for example, have never seen a data center, worked closely with an IT organization , been involved with a CAPEX/OPEX decision in their life at big scale, or negotiated a software contract to know how lock in happens in on-demand and on-premises world. Yet, they have no problems advising CIOs (at least allegedly advising) on what they should do about cloud. And they are the loudest – so I always worry some CIO will inadvertently fall for it and make a bad decision. A lot of reasonable voices on cloud just drown unnoticed because of the loud evangelizing of the people who are unreasonable.

There is a simple reason I worry about this topic. I get paid for actual execution of projects. When unrealistic expectations are set for my clients, my job gets harder because a lot of my time will be spent in convincing people to let go of fantasies and get realistic. That is time that I should have spent in executing the project.

Moral of the story: beware silver-tongued influencers who lack practical experience in the field about which they write and speak. Never be afraid to ask tough questions and if the answers don’t seem right, then find another source of advice.