Many of you who have visited an exhibition featuring modern art will know what I’m talking about: you stare at a tiny, coloured dot in the middle of a huge white canvas, and think ‘This is art? Says who?’ Who decides which pieces of modern art fetch millions at auction and which are consigned to the scrapheap?
The answer can be found with no single person. It is, in reality, a combination of influences. Hype generated by perceived experts, the media, even the public at large play a part as a ‘crowd sourcing’ entity the makers of Twitter could only dream about. Of course, this situation isn’t confined to modern art. A similar thing can be found closer to home. After all, who does decide what’s hot and what’s not in IT?
Take Vista as an example. Microsoft tried everything to get businesses to make the switch from XP to Vista, but despite their efforts, the vast majority would not dare even look at the latter. So is it realistic to think that all those who chose to skip Vista and wait for Windows 7 took a thorough look and decided it wasn’t for them? I think not. The reality is that most of them will have listened to ‘the noise’, and made their decision based on that.
It’s clear these ‘crowd’ entities wield considerable power. More indeed than the sizeable marketing budget of Microsoft and its many friends, no matter how much they dish out for advertising. So is IT right to listen to the crowd?
Well, it’s impossible to say if the crowd will be right every time but with the power they wield it doesn’t look like the IT Department has any other choice when it comes to new technologies. When you hear of IT Directors, as I have done, who will not roll out Vista not because of reservations about its capabilities, but because of the impossible task of dealing with a userbase convinced that Vista is rubbish, you can see the power of user perception.
Adrian Polley, CEO