Dodgy IT research yields dubious findings

Plus, Web 2.0 conference cooks up some kooky ideas

Well, it’s almost that time of year, when the holiday cards start to roll in. You know the drill — the ones from relatives and close friends get opened and showcased prominently, especially if their kids or dogs are cute. But the courtesy ones from people you barely remember sit there in a pile for weeks until you overcome the guilt of chucking them.

Well, the same is true of IT research, as it turns out. Dozens of unverifiable vendor-sponsored “studies,” many with the flimsiest of premises, pile up in my e-mail, interspersed with a couple of interesting, substantive ones from quasi-reputable firms.

So put your cynic’s hat on. In the spirit of at least peeking at every holiday card, I’m going to do a medley of the past couple weeks’ weaker research pitches. Unable to verify any of them, I’ll just list them off and we’ll see if they pass the smell test.

Flimsy Pitch No. 1: Although 80 percent of respondents have implemented ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), and 67 percent of those feel their ITIL program is “delivering tangible performance improvements,” only 4 percent said their organization has full measures in place to track all ITIL processes. Whoops! It’s late November and I haven’t done all my 2006 New Year’s resolutions! Ever heard of human nature? Don’t expect perfection.

Flimsy Pitch No. 2: According to recent testimony before the U.S. Senate, $12 billion of the country’s 2007 IT budget will be wasted due to poor planning. And according to the flimsy pitch, fully half of this waste could be avoided with “more realistic IT project baselines” (provided, of course, by the vendor). Right.

Flimsy Pitch No. 3: One-third of all companies are unsure of their capability to share sensitive information with business partners without compromising security or privacy. And more than one-third have “no one managing trust” in their organizations. Suggestion: How about starting with the CEO?

Flimsy Pitch No. 4: U.S. companies are more willing than their U.K. counterparts to embrace new techniques for managing archived data long-term, possibly reflecting a greater awareness of retention issues. This is a so-what if I’ve ever seen one. Their U.K. food is supposedly blander too — possible tie-in to IT?

Speaking of Flimsy My mind is still racing from my 48 hours at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco a couple weeks ago. You know, cooking up ideas, like back in the bubble. For example: How about a “platform” for spam control that would allow small companies to become domain experts in certain types of spam, and supply domain-specific filters that you could subscribe to? Like for $10 a year you could get the health-supplement spam blockers, for $6 a year the money-scam spam blockers and so on. What makes this great is that each company would be so deep in its category they’d be sure to catch all the spam, while making sure you didn’t miss legit e-mails.

Or this idea (for which I must share credit with Boston Globe columnist and CinemaTech blogger Scott Kirsner): Sockmatch.com. Like an online dating site, except for orphaned socks. Helps people re-unite pairs globally using a peer-to-peer auction mechanism with GPS (Global Positioning for Socks) and of course RSS (Real-time Sock Syndication). As they said in The Six Million Dollar Man: We have the technology. Any VCs interested?

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