Third of year-end posts I am running this week. The other two were about enterprise software and outsourcing trends.
I recently saw The Big Short. Well done, actually funny, adaptation of the book. With so many things in the movie that make your jaw drop you could easily miss the cameos where characters from Standard & Poor’s, the SEC and The Wall Street Journal act casual or even defend the growing mortgage loan crisis that brought the global economy to its knees.
It reminded me of Chapter 11 of SAP Nation titled Market Watcher Omissions. During my book research, I was stunned to find so little coverage of trillions in spend, much of it wasted. I reached out to analysts, journalists, user groups, academia, regulators and other marketwatchers for my research.
As I wrote
“..I had a gnawing sense of “How was this allowed to go on and on?” The initial IT failure of the Obamacare-related Healthcare.gov got a relentless amount of media, political and business scrutiny. That was reported as a $1 billion project (even after the overruns). In contrast, the SAP economy has had significantly more write-offs and waste. Why has it not seen anywhere near the scrutiny?
It’s not just around SAP. I have heard in the last few months a couple of tech executives call financial analysts “sheep”. There is little independent scrutiny of results and some vendors are known to feed them “suggested questions” to ask of competitors.
As I continue my research on automation and impact on jobs for my next book, I see so many glib, anecdote based comments from analysts and bloggers. There is so much labor statistics data out there, I wish they would do their homework before they just opine on stuff. Then there are analysts who relentlessly tweet from industry events basically regurgitating what tech execs are presenting on stage. That passes as analysis?
I think we would all do well to emulate Michael Lewis, the author of The Big Short, Moneyball and Flash Boys among others. He does lots of research – for months and years – takes strong positions, bases his stories around real life but previously undecorated folks like Billy Beane and Brad Katsuyama. His books have tremendous impact, yet I like the fact that he is happy to be be still called a “journalist.” No high falutin’ terms like analyst for him. And I doubt anyone would dare call him “sheep”.