A couple of weeks ago, I told you the doctor is not an analyst!. This inspired a counter-post from the one and only Jason Busch, which in turn inspired a plethora of comments, including some that argued against what the comment authors hallucinated I said (which, of course, makes for good entertainment value, so you should consider checking the comments out as well as the post).
In this post, I’m going to summarize some of the finer points made by myself and others, left out of my first post, as to why I think it’s better to be a(n independent) blogger.
Independent bloggers don’t have to write about anything we don’t (fully) understand.
As an analyst, if a company is paying your company for a piece about them or their software, chances are you have a publication date you have to meet. Maybe that’s enough time to get a good grip on what the company and / or product you’re writing about does, maybe it’s not. Either way, you have to hit the deadline or risk repercussions. As an independent blogger, I can choose whether or not I want to write about something. If I don’t think I understand something well enough to write a decent post, I can sit on it for a while.
Independent bloggers can choose whether or not we want to respond to events “almost in real time” and whether or not we want to write a “report”.
Needless to say, when I posted the above comment, at least one reader hallucinated that I said “independent bloggers don’t write about anything they don’t (fully) understand”, which is obviously not the same thing. It doesn’t take much surfing to figure out that many bloggers are compelled to respond to events almost in real-time and quite happy to publish their initial half-baked half-wit thoughts on whatever just hit the newswire. However, just because an independent blogger chooses to do so, doesn’t mean he or she has to do so. (Note that I keep saying “independent blogger”. Bloggers who work for publications often have daily blogging as part of their job requirements and, like journalists and analysts, have deadlines to meet. Thus, they may not have the choice as to whether or not they respond to events almost in real time.) Also, there’s nothing stopping us from writing a “report” if we so choose – and publishing it all at once or as a well thought-out multi-post series.
With respect to software, in order to perform a deep and accurate analysis, you really need to to understand what code and architectures can – and can not – do, and this holds true for bloggers as well as analysts.
Eric Strovink summed it up best when he said that what the Excel power user would not be able to evaluate, though, is a new technology for spreadsheets that could have downstream implications far beyond the external functionality of Revision One Point Zero – for that sort of insight, you do need a reviewer with a strong technical background. While I will admit that it is true that an Excel power user is perfectly capable of reviewing a competing spreadsheet product with respect to functionality and usability, it’s not necessarily true that such a reviewer would be able to understand the capabilities, merits, and applicability of an entirely new type of spreadsheet product – or a spreadsheet 2.0. In the sourcing context, if you’ve only ever been exposed to e-Auction products as a means of collecting bids and allocating awards, would you be able to adequately review a combo RFQ-Optimization product? Would you even understand what it was? And, more importantly, if it was implemented correctly? You really need a strong technical (and, in this, also a strong mathematical) background to review such a product.
However, even more important than these comments,
Independent Bloggers can say what they truly think of a new product offering (within reason) – whereas analysts can’t completely shred a product if said product is made by a company paying their company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for research and analysis pieces.
If I think a new product is a piece of junk, as long as I express that as my opinion (hey, even bloggers can theoretically be sued for defamation or libel if they present their opinion as a statement of fact – especially if they reside in the US), I can say I think it’s a piece of junk. Now, to be fair, one should also indicate why one thinks something is a piece of junk, because it’s mean to trash anything without a reason. Unless, of course, one thinks the reason is obvious, in which case they can just resort to satire ( which is protected speech ).