Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Peter Silva, Roger Strukhoff, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, ManageEngine IT Matters

Blog Feed Post

Conflict of Interest: common sense or witch-hunt?

burning-witchesPeople in this business get quite worked up about the conflicts of interest faced by ‘influencers’; analysts, prominent bloggers, and the rest.

That concern is understandable and reasonable. We do need to know when the advice, guidance and opinion we’re being given is influenced by external factors (both positive and negative).

But the vehemence with which a very small subset of potential conflicts is attacked strikes me as both silly and — ultimately — counter-productive. Surely it would be far better to embrace — and encourage — transparency than to engage in narrowly scoped witch hunts that usually end up burning the wrong people?

Imagine that you’re looking for a new coffee machine (I was). You hunt around online, and find a plethora of reviews (I did). Some are glowing, some are scathing. Some are written by people who were lent trial machines, some were written by people who were given machines by manufacturers. Some were written by people who parted with their own hard-earned cash. Some were written by people who walked past a machine in a shop window, and who never really tried the product they’re supposedly reviewing. All of those reviews have a value, but you might reasonably expect to place different weight on the conclusions reached in each case. If you know the back story. “This is the best machine ever” carries an awful lot of weight if written by a serial buyer of coffee machines who spent their own money on this new one. It’s a less convincing as an assertion if written by someone who was given the machine — and a wad of cash — by the manufacturer.

Back in the tech space, there are plenty of ways in which commentators and analysts are influenced by the companies we cover. At a very simple level, we might like – or dislike – the people. We might like – or dislike – the sort of world view the company espouses. We might have family or friends who work at the company, or at one of its competitors. The CEO might be an ex, and either despised or terribly missed. The CIO might be great, genuine, and always quick to buy a round of drinks at conferences or upon chance meetings at Schiphol Airport. The company might always be willing to find a credible spokesperson with something relevant to say, as we race to meet a deadline. They might hold analyst events in nice places, and try hard to make it a pleasant experience as well as an informative one. They might sponsor our website, or our favourite team.

All these things – and more – shape our opinions of the companies we cover. Any one of them might tip coverage in either a positive or a negative direction. Sometimes that shift in emphasis will be conscious (“I hate her, and am going to get even…”), but more often it’ll be pretty subliminal.

And yet we often ignore all these things, and just focus on whether or not the analyst happens to own stock in the company or space they’re writing about. Why? Sure, stock ownership is likely to affect your attitude to a firm. It gives you a clear financial reason to want them to do well. But all the other ‘reasons’ for skewing coverage can have an impact that’s just as significant. It feels like we continue to focus on stock ownership simply because it’s an easy ‘conflict’ to track, to ban, and to get worked up about. But doing that doesn’t solve the broader issue of bias. Which is why we need some trust.

These days, a lot of analysts are becoming personalities. Even inside big firms that work hard to project a corporate persona, their rock star analysts are visible, individualistic, and important. Boutique analyst firms, individuals, and informed bloggers also carry a lot of power. And much of that power rests squarely upon their reputation. That reputation is hard-won, and they’re likely to want to protect it. With reputation comes trust, and an expectation from readers/followers/customers of a certain type of behaviour.

How we deal with frequent and inevitable conflicts of interest – real or perceived – is a key aspect of that behaviour, a vital factor in establishing our trustworthiness, and the foundation upon which a reputation stands and grows.

We should declare our relevant conflicts of interest; always, fully, openly, frankly. We should have the common sense and the decency to do this without archaic and – frankly – silly notions that things like stock ownership are simply barred.

Those who engage with us, who read us, who pay us… they will very quickly learn whether or not to trust us. In an environment where social media is fast, pervasive, and rich with deep knowledge, it doesn’t take long to find out who other people we trust place their trust in, and to use that to inform our own evolving measures of trustworthiness. And anyone can read a piece written about company X, with a clear statement that stocks were owned, beers were bought, brothers were hired, etc… and make up their own mind.

If trusted and trustworthy, we can speak with and retain authority… even when conflicted. It happens every day.

Or we could just run around, yelling ‘Witch!!!,’ and keep those bonfires a-burning.

And, to be explicit, neither I nor my family (to my knowledge) own stock in any of the companies or industries I cover.

Image of burning witches, apparently from the 14th century, shared on Wikipedia.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database.

He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
IoT is fundamentally transforming the auto industry, turning the vehicle into a hub for connected services, including safety, infotainment and usage-based insurance. Auto manufacturers – and businesses across all verticals – have built an entire ecosystem around the Connected Car, creating new customer touch points and revenue streams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper, will share real-world examples of how IoT transforms the car from a static p...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that China Unicom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE F...
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
Big Data has been changing the world. IoT fuels the further transformation recently. How are Big Data and IoT related? In his session at @BigDataExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will explore the interplay of Big Data and IoT. He will anatomize Big Data and IoT separately in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. He will then analyze the relationship between IoT and Big Data, specifically the drilldown of how the 4Vs of Big Data (Volume, Variety,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT de...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...