Sunday, June 15, 2014

IT Kool Aid Flavors: Vendor or Reality

There are two general realms, or flavors, that exist in most of the IT world.  The vendor flavor, and the reality flavor.

Case in point:

According to one reseller, the world is running, or eagerly in the process of pursuing, a "pure" Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 / Update 1 environment.

Other sprinkle-toppings may include flavor crystals like all the 2013 products (but don't forget SQL Server 2014), and of course, the ubiquitous "cloud" world and Office 365/Azure.  And don't forget, if you bundle you get a free kid's toy.  Is this for a boy or a girl?  Do you want to super-size that as well?

And, please don't get me started on how to properly pronounce Azure.

Anybody still using XP?  Vendor says: Pfffft!  I think not (p-shaaaa!).

Not so fast.

The uncounted, 70-90% of the computer-swilling world doesn't have the luxury of IT project plans, operational efficiency directives and SLA's to worry about. They're busy trying to make things, sell things, build things, fix things, provide services, and all that mumbo-jumbo. The kind of stuff that a lot of larger shops don't seem to have as much "direct / hands-on" exposure to anymore.

Nowadays, many larger shops have grown into detached sector/division/department/project/task-group/tiger-team environments, where they fit into a mesh of bean-counter menageries that eventually lead to something that tickles shareholders and keeps the paychecks flowing.

I have no intention of offending or insulting anyone by this (well, okay, maybe some resellers and sales-folks), but the truth can be summed up in a very simple example:

Kathy's landscaping shop has a few apps they bought with personal funds to help with designing backyard ponds, estimate water coverage, soil depths, and seasonal impacts on gardening.  They bought them when they bought their prized Dell or HP desktop they still use with Windows XP.  And guess what:  IT STILL WORKS.  In their view, shiny new touch-screen tiles and cloud things are not as exciting as kicking the shit out of the revenue numbers compared with the nearby Lowe's or Home Depot.

Their IT support center?  1-800-ASK-DELL or 1-800-WHATS-YOUR-KIDS-FRIENDS-NUMBER-AGAIN?

Sure, there are distinct, and tangible values to the new features provided by Windows 8 and so on, but for many (okay, dare I say: most) small businesses, and home users as well, the deciding factor is "why do I need to buy another new computer if the one I have still works?"  For many small "mom-and-pop" shops, the apps they depend on aren't tops on the lists of bigger companies.  They tend to be very industry-specific, and extremely function-specific as well.  Things that perform one task, maybe two, but do them well, and are also either cheap, or free.

Ask any software repackager who deals with more than a hundred titles, and they'll probably have no trouble recalling a list of those "oddball" apps that are tough to wrestle into a package, but for whatever reason, HAVE to be made available or the planets will spin out of orbit and gravity will dissolve.  Floral arrangement apps may seem stupid, but tell that to a small, family-owned Florist.

The consumer isn't broken. The rationale isn't broken either.  And neither are the products. What's broken is the sales pitch.

Remember the Daffy Duck salesman episode?  Hey Bud, you need a house to go with this door knob.

PS.  In case you're wondering, the photo depicts (for me, anyways), from left to right: me, a vendor, and a small-business owner.

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