Open to interpretation. You need to have raised a child or two to truly appreciate the inherent risk of that phrase. A parent grasps very early on that any interaction with a child should never involve words like, "maybe", and "let me think about it"; even a disinterested "hmmm . . ." is an egregious error in judgement.
Smart mums and dads know it's best to work in the black and white world of "yes" and "no". If you don't, you end up with a three-year-old strapping the budgie onto the back of the cat and taking them both for a walk down to the local swimming pool (and of course your toddler's starkers, because three-year-olds always do anything they can starkers).
Leave things "open to interpretation" and you've got an eight-year-old putting GI Joe Action figures in your microwave because - well - just because eight-year-olds never have a reason for doing anything.
Let a 13-year-old operate in any kind of grey area for more than 10 seconds, the next thing you know you're discovering a tattoo on your daughter's butt saying: "Sweet Johnny Forever", and you thought she was still playing with Barbie dolls.
Yessiree, open to interpretation brings with it nothing but a heap of trouble and heartache, and that's why we should leave interpretation to the pros; that is, the analysts, who are used to mucking it up.
If you're a regular reader of this column, then you know I'm not a big fan of a certain type of research (if you're not a regular reader, let me bring you up to date: I'm not a big fan of a certain type of research). Now I've got a new axe to grind - the double whammy of a certain type of research that is open to interpretation.
This landed on my e-mail desktop in late August: "A survey of delegates at Dimension Data Australia's annual user conference, Forum 11, has uncovered a major challenge facing organisations to align IT with the business (the italics are mine). The survey, completed by 125 end users comprising IT directors, CIOs, CTOs and IT Managers . . ."
Uncovered? Well, knock me over with a feather - there's a challenge none of us have ever heard of, right? It gets better. Here's the rationale behind the survey: Designed to gauge the state of the market with regard to the theme of the conference - "Effective and Efficient Interaction". Dimension Data's concept of the Application Network requires business and IT to align closer together, to improve collaboration within and between businesses, lower IT costs, improve productivity and flexibility and make it easier for businesses to find new ways to build competitive advantage."
Well, thank you very much - perhaps you Di Data folks would like to discuss this concept with David Murray and get his feedback?
But here's the real clincher. On a scale of 1-5 where 5 is the most important, survey respondents were asked to rate the importance of aligning business and IT. The average response was 4.5 out of 5. Of course aligning business and IT is important, and of course it's a challenge; but it's time to stop making it sound like no one's pulling it off, or worse, that CIOs are just discovering it.
After all, just because a company plies a bunch of people with food, grog, golf and speeches and then asks them to complete a survey it doesn't mean they are qualified to interpret the results. However, if you're interested, they might get a few people strapping the odd budgie onto their backs and walking starkers down to the Hyatt swimming pool.
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