Thursday, April 26, 2007


Wow - it's been a long time since my last entry on April 2nd, time is just flying by. I do have a couple of things built up that I need to get out.

I received a comment recently asking about analysts and their lack of bullishness on open-source projects. I think that we need to really understand the role of the typical analyst vs. the role of the futurist. I wrote a blog entry just over a year ago, titled "Stan, The World's Greatest Futurist, that explores predicting the future. The futurist has a very different job from that of the analyst.

The job of an analyst, to me, is to help explain, via thoughtful study (analysis) why something happened or what something that just happened means. For example, why did a company announce only $0.01/share of earnings when $0.25/share was expected? Financial analysts should be able to help us understand why this may have happened. Technology analysts should be able to tell us why some technologies are successful in a specific market.

Analysts use their life-experiences to help them understand why certain events occur.

Where we, as an industry, often get in trouble is when we expect the analysts to predict the future. More specifically, we get in the most trouble when we ask the analysts to predict the next major waves within an industry. Personally, I think many of the analysts with whom I've worked have had difficulty predicting the past, but that's another point.

I truly believe that it is exceedingly difficult to use one's analytical skills and past experiences to predict new waves and new technologies. New things come from out-of-the-box thinking; they don't come from tried-and-true methods.

It's a huge stretch to assume that a mainstream analyst who has spent their career analyzing proprietary software companies, and understanding how those companies value their closed-source technologies as intellectual property, is going to easily transform into someone who understands the benefits of open-source.

These analysts think that software companies only exist because they have proprietary, closed-source, secret sauce ingredients that would be too expensive for anyone else to copy. Therefore, an open-source company can't possibly succeed as a software company.

Perhaps the real issue we have is that we should stop calling open-source companies software companies. Maybe it's our own fault for using obsolete terms to try and get others to understand what we're all about.

Anyway, back to analysts and Stan - there's a huge difference between explaining the past and predicting the future. Although, I predict that I'll get a fair amount of complaints from the analysts in the audience. Wait, that's already happened - am I an analyst or a futurist.

No comments: