| Front Page | News Headlines | Technical Headlines | Planning Features | Advanced Search |

June 2001

Speaking Out

Generally, I do not interview users of a product as part of a review. One obvious reason is that I am only going to get references from the vendor to happy customers, possibly inaccurately skewing the overall conclusion of the review. But the primary, and not so obvious, reason is that it is totally frustrating to contact people and be told something like “I’d like to talk to you but my company does not allow us to discuss IS projects with the press.” Please. We’re talking a couple of sentences about how you are using a product and whether it is meeting expectations. There is just no way that could jeopardize any perceived competitive advantage.

Some products are so complex that a reviewer can only trivially test them. If the reviewer cannot get users to speak about their experience, everyone from the vendor to the potential customer suffers. So, next time you are asked to comment about a product you are using by someone writing a review or article, think twice before routinely replying that you cannot talk. It is quite easy to completely shield an organization from any “exposure.” Most writers can obfuscate at least as well as they can clarify.

An amusing aside to this particular Test Drive is that several people who told me they could not speak to me posted messages to 3000-L within the last six months that give exactly the information I was looking for. Since 3000-L is a public forum, I’ve used some of this material in the body of the Test Drive, though I have not identified the company or source. But you know who you are.

— John Burke


Copyright The 3000 NewsWire. All rights reserved.