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Is it all just too easy?

I was fortunate this past week to be able to attend a Cloud conference put on by the 451 Group, down in Boston. While I have fine tuned my focus during the past year, less on the infrastructure side, and more on the business application side, this was time well spent. I believe that from a maturation – ability to offer measurable business value – perspective, Cloud, Open Source, Social and Enterprise 2.0 are growing up together.  Sometimes they act more like siblings during a long car ride, suffering from “Are we there yet” and “Look at me, look at me”.

Even given my slightly different focus, I do try to stay true to the brief description I have on Twitter, “I am passionate about the intersection of people, process and technology”. Luckily, SugarCRM, where I currently hang my hat, sits right in the middle of that that triple witching point:

  • People/Ecosystem – Customers, Employees and Partners,
  • Process – Who speaks, When they say,  How to engage, What channel,
  • Technology – Open Source, Clouds, SaaS, Social (Yes, Social is technology)

Just because you can, does it mean you should?

Ok, now to the point – my theory is that the technology has made it is just too easy to do make bad choices – a crazy, maybe, silly statement, but tell me I am wrong – I dare you. There is a place and a time for the Nike moment – “Just do it” and then there is the ‘take time and think about what you are about to do’. What is the correct balance? Just because you can, does it mean you should? Some are probably saying that about this blog at the moment.

Back in the day (sorry, I love that phrase, my 18yo pulls it on me all the time), when you wanted to get something done, you had to do the ole ‘budget justification’, think through it, present to senior team members – Yes, ask for money, too! Part of this was also a required “Check with IT, I am not sure what you want to do is part of the standard”. This last one was especially hard for the Open Source applications.  Combine a pent up demand, economic pressures, getting tired of the perception of IT blocking progress with SaaS, Cloud and Online Social Media channels – and it is a perfect storm and excuse to just IGNORE the IT dept.

So, before anyone beats me up too much, this is not what I am suggesting, just saying what happens, what I have seen happen and the end result. I have seen many companies take the route of using SaaS – Take a Look at Phil Wainewright’s Blog He talks to Conformity – An interesting company who has the business model to help clean up this mess, but I am not going to deep here, just a reference to justify this post.

My key point is that it all just to dam easy. The ease of spending $20 to get a server in the cloud – yes, I said $20, standing up a system, setting up a blog, putting together a YouTube account, FaceBook group, Newsletter, Forums, Chat, Twitter. Awesome, let’s hope all the choices are successful, lots of people, lots of prospects, lots of eyeballs – Maybe some customers too. That would be great, right? Way too many times, I have heard the statement – “Hey that would be a great problem to have” – Really? Unless of course it is your problem to solve. Remember, once you are on a channel it is much harder to leave.

I do have to ‘tip-toe’ a bit, after all I do work for SugarCRM. A company that does make it very easy to get started, and take advantage of a structured CRM application. I am all for making things easy, but job one is success!  I also believe this is much more prevalent with respect to Social Media applications – too many people saying “Just do it”.  Is anything really free, no, as people and time are the most expensive part of running a business.

I am suggesting that a little bit of planning – just a little – is time well spent – Just sayin’

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • marktamis November 9, 2009, 3:28 PM

    Too damn easy – maybe now we can go back to concentrating on providing value to and with others rather than get caught up playing with the latest shiny new toy. And realize hat tpeople and the time they provide are where the most potential for value creation can be found. The tools will just facilitate getting to the value.

    Agree, knowing what you objectives you want to meet and planning and working towards meeting those of course makes sense. Doing something just for the sake of it conjures up and an image of a headless chicken running around. :)

  • Russ November 9, 2009, 10:32 PM

    Hi Mitch,

    Unfortunately, there are a lot more do’ers than thinkers(strategic type). The college intern can do, in this context. We can make it easier and easier for the do’ers until it’s almost trivial. Then what are we left with? Besides a whole bunch more noise we see the Emperor without clothes. He is revealed! Frauds! Companies without effective planning, without a real strategy, will be exposed and vulnerable. They can’t hide behind the multi-year projects once required to just keep the lights on. A few will, as Mark talks about, realize the opportunity to focus efforts on real value creation(“Ahhh…we’ve been waiting for this chance!!”). But most(I’m thinking of Pareto), will create, seek out, imagine a new set of busy-work that “needs to be done” so that they can go back into hiding. The “toys” can be great facilitators. But all too often they’re perpetual smokescreens and scapegoats for failed strategy or flat-out incompetence.

    Reminds me of, back when I didn’t have a good handle on my time management, I would spend hours on all the superficial aspects of writing my report(formatting, font, what paper to use, etc.) instead of on the content itself. It was relatively meaningless busy-work but it made my procrastination-inclined mind feel satisfied that I really was doing “work”. At least until I was exposed the next day in class ;)

    It IS too easy. Friction and scarcity can be wonderful things. But I only see it getting easier. It’ll be up to PEOPLE(no tech will do it for you) to say Enough! and to put the time and energy where it should be. It can be a great opportunity for people/companies to differentiate themselves.

    There are core pieces to BUSINESS regardless of trend, real or hyped. Let’s get the Core right before we send the entire expedition out to Explore and claim new lands.

    Thanks!
    Russ
    Seattle, WA
    http://www.twitter.com/russhatfield

  • Kathy Herrmann November 9, 2009, 10:48 PM

    Mitch,

    You hit on a great topic and one that needs to be returned to the corporate forefront, especially in these tighter times.

    The advantage of easy tech solutions is…well…the ease of implementing them. The dissadvantage is having a variety of unintegrated solutions that lead to siloing.

    The challenge for companies of all sizes is finding the balance point, small, medium and large.

    You don’t want your company to be slaves to the IT department (requiring an obstacle course to get anything approved or implemented). On the other hand, you don’t want to set IT to needless chase, supporting a plethora of unintegrated solutions. Nor do you want to limit your companies ability to collaborate and share information.

    Mark captured my sentiment well. New technology is good…if it serves the corporate master (a.k.a., objectives and strategy). But chasing the shiny new toy for its own sake just depletes resources.

    Valuation is on my mind a lot these days. I’m writing up a methodology to determine social media valuation and ROI. And it’s making me realize who far many companies have moved away from valuation concepts in general….in tech and other initiatives.

    It’s time to return to Business 101 concepts.

  • Russ November 10, 2009, 3:25 AM

    Crossed my mind that the dotcom bubble(and perhaps whatever portion of current Social Media might be called a bubble) is a good example of what happens when technological barriers to entry are lowered such that every Tom, Dick and Jane can start a business with or without planning.

    You’ll be exposed and it’ll catch up sooner or later. Though, some might be satisfied if they’re able to make a few million before that happens ;)

    Russ