Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Dana Gardner, Carmen Gonzalez

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
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
The Open Compute Project is a collective effort by Facebook and a number of players in the datacenter industry to bring lessons learned from the social media giant's giant IT deployment to the rest of the world. Datacenters account for 3% of global electricity consumption – about the same as all of Switzerland or the Czech Republic -- according to people I met at the recent Open Compute Summit in San Jose. With increasing mobility at the edge of the cloud and vast new dataflows being predicted with the growth of the Internet of Things (and The Coming Age of Many Zettabytes) in the near...
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
Sonus Networks introduced the Sonus WebRTC Services Solution, a virtualized Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) offer, purpose-built for the Cloud. The WebRTC Services Solution provides signaling from WebRTC-to-WebRTC applications and interworking from WebRTC-to-Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), delivering advanced real-time communications capabilities on mobile applications and on websites, which are accessible via a browser.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the leading innovator in recurring revenue, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Proven by the world’s most demanding enterprises, including AAA NCNU, Constant Contact, Falck, Hootsuite, Pitney Bowes, Telekom Denmark, and VMware, Aria helps enterprises grow their recurring revenue businesses. With Aria’s end-to-end active monetization platform, global brands can get to market faster with a wider variety of products and services, while maximizin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Things. Akana enables enterprises to share data as APIs, connect and integrate applications, drive part...
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and sim...
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. Join SoftLayer on June 9 at 16th Cloud Expo to learn about IBM Cloud's SoftLayer platform, explore se...
SYS-CON Media announced today that 9 out of 10 " most read" DevOps articles are published by @DevOpsSummit Blog. Launched in October 2014, @DevOpsSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. 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 development cycles that produce softw...