Due to the increasing rate of technological change, it can be challenging to locate and use the reliable information required to make sound business decisions. In this two part blog posting, I present the basics to locating reliable information. Part 1 will offer an example of what not to do, and Part 2 presents an example of what leads to more successful research and decision making.
In my days as an Appraisal Institute, Member (MAI), the single most important element of my work which led to more reliable appraisal results was a focus on remaining unbiased. While clients wanted to know I was well trained, they knew well trained appraisers with a preconceived value often resulted in misleading information.
Biased tech information also leads to misleading and costly business decisions. Before you follow such advice, identify the purpose of the research or survey. Who commissioned the study? Who stands to benefit from the study? In other words: "follow the money."
Recently I was searching for information about Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) and located a site that touted a company's solution as being "Named the 2015 Customer Magazine product of the year." To avoid being misled, the key point is to understand the source of an award and particularly whether or not there is a bias.
In this example, finding the presented award was not too difficult when searching for "a 2015 Customer Magazine product of the year." The "magazine" is under the parent company TMCnet.com and the award can be accessed here:
Customer Magazine cites the following as explanation for granting the award:
"...most innovative and affordable CRM solution in the market,"
"...a standout with a solution that redefines the CRM industry."
"...superior software solutions to improve customer relationships."
"...enable all customer-facing employees to make personal connections with every customer throughout the customer's decision process - ultimately helping companies grow sales, improve customer satisfaction, drive effective marketing campaigns and gain a competitive advantage."
The difficulty came when trying to identify the magazine's research and level of bias. Awards such as these must be traced back to the source studies and be identified as independent. Remember to ask yourself who commissioned the study - who stands to benefit from the study? If not sufficiently answered then accolades such as those above remain suspect.
Sometimes it is simply the wording which suggests a bias. For example, Customer Magazine awards many products within the same year as Product of the Year. When reporting the awards, they are careful to state each products is "a" product of the year. However, when the award is used for advertising the "a" is often changed to "the" which leads the reader to erroneously think only one award was granted.
The lesson learned is that Customer Magazine is not demonstrating research or consulting services by awarding a product of the year - they are mostly acting as marketing services. Buyers beware and locate a less biased service or approach.
In Part 2, I will demonstrate how to isolate claims and fact check for a superior analysis and decision making process.