Recently the singer/dancer/actor/producer/soft porn coffee-table book subject/documentary-maker/wife and mother (whew) more famously known as Madonna added another backslash to her repertoire (notice I didn’t say talents here): children’s book author. At first glance, that particular feat wouldn’t seem to have much relevance to IT. But, in fact, it does, because it’s suggestive of what’s happening at the upper echelons of IT companies: ubiquitous reinvention, or what I call the “McDonna Syndrome”.
Rampant for the past 18-24 months, the McDonna Syndrome manifests itself with a single symptom: IT vendor execs talking about ? and offering themselves as experts on ? anything and everything other than their products. That’s because they really can’t talk about much in the way of company offerings. Let’s face it, most of them aren’t fronting up much in the new product category these days, so instead these execs offer themselves up as quasi commentators.
Storage company execs become disaster recovery experts. Database vendor execs become security pundits. Storage company execs become Sarbanes-Oxley experts. Financial software execs become Basel II or International Accounting Standards authorities. Storage company execs become document retention experts. CRM vendors become change management commentators. Storage company execs become governance experts. (Storage vendors appear to have a lot of time on their hands.)
I really long for the days when IT supplier execs stuck to their knitting and were experts on what their companies made because at least most of them knew what they were talking about. As it stands now, these McDonnas end up spreading more propaganda than some Ministry of Disinformation. The quasi document retention expert is mostly trying to get you to buy ? surprise, surprise! ? more storage. Chances are you really don’t need to store all those documents he or she suggests you do. (I’m no expert, but from the company’s point of view, it’s probably not a good idea to save the e-mail where someone asks you to cook the books for the month. Although you might want to make your own backup, for self-preservation purposes.)
Lacking the Next Big Thing, it looks like too many people are trying to sell anything by talking about Some Other Thing. The problem is that Madonna is a great dancer and, I guess, a pretty good singer. But if you want to figure out whether the IT McDonnas are worth your time when they get off subject, I would suggest renting out an old video of Shanghai Surprise or Body of Evidence or ? even better yet ? Swept Away.
Sometimes it makes sense to stick to the usual song and dance routine.
Or perhaps read the children’s book Madonna has written, and then decide if you want to hear experts in one field talk about another.
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