Hitchhiker's Guide to Software Architecture and Everything Else - by Michael Stal

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Send all Market Analysts to a lonely Island!

This time, I like to discuss something absolutely different. A few weeks ago one of those famous market research companies - I won't tell you the name - announced that they have investigated interesting facts on the relevance of Podcasts. The result was amazing: only some weird techies are listening to Podcasts, while the vast majority of people is not interested in this Podcast thing. As a consequence, there is no business opportunity in this area according to the infinite wisdom of market analysts. A few days later, a more serious analysis found out that the the irrelevance of Podcasts was absolutely untrue. In the US alone millions of people are frequently enjoying Podcasting. I would have surely guessed that, as Podcasts are a kind offline radio and cover as many topics as one could propably think of. This reminds me of an Ovum report several years ago where they compared all these cool Remoting Middleware technologies (RMI, DCOM, CORBA). They forecasted that DCOM will be the dominant technology in the future, which is ... now. BTW, can you remember this DCOM technology ? DCOM propably stands for Dead COM. Can you remember the prediction that .NET and Java will both share 50% of the market. And all these predictions that SOA will make everything else obsolete? All of this could be quite entertaining. Unfortunately, in software development projects I constantly get pointers from managers that refer to these market analysis reports. Even software developers and architects believe in this crap. I understand that people are searching for help when faced with uncertainty. In market and technology reports you can find all these technology evaluations, product comparisons, and market forecasts. And, even worse, for almost all predictions in these reports you are able to discover additional reports, that tell exactly the opposite, at least, if you are digging long enough. Reminds me of Winston Churchill who once mentioned that he only believes his own wrong statistics. Sometimes I ask myself, if someone in this universe has ever tried to investigate the value of market reports. How many predictions turned out to be true or at least almost true? The problem of all future forecasts is that you can only base your statements on a small amount of facts and a large amount of opinions. Opinions are just that. They contain personal preferences, try to project past developments to the future, and use linear models. The reality, unfortunately, is often disruptive and non-linear. New technology developments appear, some of these developments become hypes, while others disappear and may re-appear some years later. What can be done in a stage of uncertainty? Base all your architecture and technology decisions on two things, the facts you know and the risks you must address. If necessary, hide technologies which might be subject to change, using adapters or other means. Everything is better than gambling. And, even if it sounds over critical, using marekt and technology reports is like gambling. Why do you think, these guys have become market analysts and not software engineers?

4 Comments:

  • Michael, you`re damn right! But in general most of the software-product development companies do everything to satisfy the so called "forecasts" of these market analysts. The consequence is that many of them just rename (or rebrand) their product.

    Greetings,

    Adrian

    By Anonymous Adrian, at 10:40 PM  

  • Hi Adrian,

    yes, exactly, that's an important point. It is a kind of self fulfilling prophecy. If everyone believes in a forecast, vendors are forced to enter the hype. And, to be honest, some vendors also try to initiate new "forecasts".

    -- Michael

    By Blogger Michael, at 11:32 PM  

  • Software is and will remain an engineering discipline. Our job is to filter what we can rely on, and what will pass us by. This is the one thing. On the other hand, there is this world of people which spend more time on communication than we. And those people convince banking or venture capital people, which in turn enable us to do our thing. You can't life with, and you can't without. I guess somethings running wrong :-D

    By Anonymous Michael Bruckmeier, at 6:06 AM  

  • I blogged about your entry:
    http://it-and-more.blogspot.com/2006/05/travel-tipps-for-analysts.html

    thanx,Gernot

    By Blogger Dr. Gernot Starke, at 10:22 AM  

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