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Monday, January 21, 2002


My first rant in this weblog is going to be a quote from Shane McChesney in Why I Read Joel Spolsky who, in turn, was directly quoting from Joel's Fire And Motion essay:
The companies who stumble are the ones who spend too much time reading tea leaves to figure out the future direction of Microsoft. People get worried about .NET and decide to rewrite their whole architecture for .NET because they think they have to. Microsoft is shooting at you, and it's just cover fire so that they can move forward and you can't, because this is how the game is played, Bubby.
In Joel's essay he goes on to say,
Are you going to support Hailstorm? SOAP? RDF? Are you supporting it because your customers need it, or because someone is firing at you and you feel like you have to respond? The sales teams of the big companies understand cover fire. They go into their customers and say, "OK, you don't have to buy from us. Buy from the best vendor. But make sure that you get a product that supports (XML / SOAP / CDE / J2EE) because otherwise you'll be Locked In The Trunk." Then when the little companies try to sell into that account, all they hear is obedient CTOs parrotting "Do you have J2EE?" And they have to waste all their time building in J2EE even if it doesn't really make any sales, and gives them no opportunity to distinguish themselves. It's a checkbox feature -- you do it because you need the checkbox saying you have it, but nobody will use it or needs it. And it's cover fire.
Lest you think this weblog is going to be a soapbox from which I'll lambast Microsoft, let me point out that Joel's comments are equally applicable to Sun, Compaq, or any other big company with a savvy sales and marketing team. The whole point is don't be a lemming or a sheep. Think beyond the hype.

A parting thought is a joke I once heard: What's the difference between a software or computer sales rep and a used car salesman? The used car salesman knows he's lying.