Who or what is your sphere of influence?

March 21, 2010 – 5:42 pm

Disclosure: I used to be an IT customer working in different organizations, than worked for various vendors, than for an analyst firm before starting StorageIO. Thus I have been at various seats around the proverbial IT table, having listened to as well as being part of various stories from different vantage points, thus my view and sphere or focus or influence may be different from yours.


Who is your sphere or circle of influence?

If you listen to vendors your perceptions will be one thing, if you listen to customers, your perceptions will be different. Or, if you simply read and get information and perspectives via the media and depending upon their sources or opinions, guess what!


Taking a step back for a moment.

Recently I have attended either in person, or via virtual means various vendor briefings and announcements, as well as meeting and talking with IT professionals face to face or via phone and other means. Likewise I see and read various industry related material via printed (yes some still exist), online, web, blogs, podcasts, videos, tweets from different sources ranging from traditional media or journalist organizations using in-house staff or a combination of staff and freelance writers as well as upstart new media, to vendors and vars, research analyst among others.

What jumped out at me as a perspective is something that should be as clear as seeing through both pairs of eyes or listening with two ears (assuming no ailments). That is, if all you listen to are vendors guess what your thought and perspective basis will be.

Likewise, if all you do is listen to users guess what the perspective is going to be? Another angle is that if you are in academia or research areas, and those that you associate with are also only in that venue, guess what? Or, how about if all you do is listen to particularly media or blog venues, to vars or specific analysis, or, get your info second or third hand hopefully you start to see the picture here. How about if all you do to get your information is by reading press releases or customer case studies, while providing some information, what about the story behind the story and what it all means?

For example, if all a reporter, blogger, media analyst, journalist or free-lance writer does to get their info is from vendors, guess how those discussions might be influenced. Or, if an analyst, advisor, researcher, consultant, var or independent blogger only gets their product and industry trends perspectives from vendors, guess how that might be shaped. Let alone, if your focus is on quantitative vs. qualitative depending upon information sources your view or influence will vary.

While sitting in as well as listening in remotely on some of those vendor briefings it dawned on me how perhaps there are those who only get their information on trends, perspectives and industry challenges let alone on product or competitive positioning from those venues, or, in the after the fact market research accounting numbers. After all, if your time is spent on the traveling media, analyst and blogger briefing circuit going from one big tent to another with little or no time to engage with others in the ecosystem, guess what the perspectives might possible be?

I was also wondering recently in a different venue that was filled with IT customers (e.g. users) along with some vendors and vars a similar thought. That is, if attendees never listened or attended vendor, var or third-party produced events and seminars how they would get information and dialogue exchange for forming opinions.

Or if bloggers, media, free-lance writers our journalist only get their information from vendor briefings or talking with handpicked reference customers or pre-screened and scripted pundits, is if they are getting or even asking about the bigger or broader story, the story behind the story for their viewers or readers.

Now this is not saying that any one of those is a negative or inappropriate or non important venue or source, rather, simply point out that views and perspectives eve if formed by yourself can be shaped by your sources of information.

In other words, leverage various forms of information and knowledge exchange including different venues. Form your own perspectives based on different sources and exchanges or discussions leveraging that gray matter (not talking about hair either) that sits behind your eyes, slightly above your mouth and between those ears.


What to do or who to listen to?

I spend my talking with manufactures, vars, service providers, bloggers, consultants, media and financial analysts, and of course, lots and lots of IT customers to gauge what is going on, the issues, challenges, opportunities, who has been naughty and nice. Consequently, my view and sphere of influences tend to be more applied and rooted with what is going on in many IT shops vs being shaped by what others want me to hear, see or think.

Something that I have found over the years is that talking directly with IT customers in real-time enables quicker perspectives and feedback on their needs and issues for when I talk with vars or vendors as well as the media.

Likewise, having regular in-depth discussions with vendors, vars and service providers helps to give perspective on where those groups are going and looking to discuss with their technologies. At times the discussions are under NDA (both on the customer as well as the var, vendor or service provider sides) and other times they are in the open depending upon the conversation or topic sensitivity.

I say leverage all the different resources, views and perspectives that are available and depending on who you are or what you do, set up dialogue with others given how easy it is to do with various mediums or venues. For example, if you are a media, financial, research or consulting advisory analyst or self-proclaimed pundit, set up open and two-way dialogue with IT customers, vars, public relations, consultants as well as media in addition to traditional vendor controlled analyst relations (while you are at it, set up some information vendor dialogue as well).

Who Are You and Your Influences
Figure 1 Some spheres of influence and influences

So who are you and what are your circles or spheres of influence as well as those that you influence (Figure 1)? If you are a media (e.g. journalist, writer, blogger, freelancer, editor, publisher) than set up relationships with various analysts, advisors, consultants, vars, customers and so forth. If you are the customer, likewise set up relationships with both traditional and new or nontraditional analysts and media venues, other customers and vars. hopefully you start to see the picture which is either hibernate, lurk, or proactively engage with others in a medium or way that suits your needs or requirements.

If you have only been a vendor or var, learn about the others around the table and likewise, if only have been a media or analyst, learn about the vendors and the customers, the vars and so forth. Expand your horizons and sources of information exchange, debate or discussion. After all, you may still come back to the same premises or perspectives, however at least you can say and prove that thesis on the basis of having discussed or researched it with your broader, diverse network of contacts.

Likewise, when sharing information or knowledge, keep in mind that there are different audiences, some of whom may have seen before what you have found to be new and revolutionary while others will have perhaps a 180 degree view and others on the same page if not same ball park.


Bottom line

Use your brain to read, listen, learn, discuss, ask questions, share information and form your own opinions, thoughts and perspectives. Rest assured, no one medium, venue or source has the complete insight into your specific environment, requirements, issues and challenges and if it does, that would be truly revolutionary!

And that is all that I have to say about that, at least for now…

Ok, nuff said.

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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