Friday, May 30, 2008

Managing Geeks when You Aren't One Yourself

A little flattery goes a long way.

A new friend of ours decided to peruse this blog and just sent us the nicest email about the Net Neutrality post (below) but also my Inc. Technology article on sales training for geeks (two posts down).

Which serves as a good reminder. One reason I glommed onto the Geek Gap as a topic in the first place is that I do a lot of business technology writing, and it seemed to me that nearly everything I wrote about related in one way or another to the fact that geeks and suits can't seem to understand each other, communicate clearly or work together effectively.

I still do a lot of writing that one way or another relates to the Geek Gap...but for some foolish reason I don't usually post links here. So OK, here's another one, also from on how to manage technology people if you're not one yourself.

The best part, of course, is that I got to quote "The IT Crowd"...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why We Need Net Neutrality

Funny how one thing leads to another.

Bill and I (thanks to Netflix) are belated fans of "A Bit of Fry and Laurie"--Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie's comedy series that ran in Britain in the 1990s. We just finished watching the third season, in which each episode ends with Fry concocting some sort of bizzarro cocktail while Laurie plays the piano. At the end of the piece, Fry hands Laurie the cocktail and they toast each other with the words "Soupy twist!" This may be Strom for "Cheers!"( Strom is a nonsensical language used by Fry in the series). But Bill's first guess was that it had something to do with Soupy Sales.

Which led him to meander the Web on his Nokia 810 till he came upon a reunion show by some of the TV comedians of the 50's. They chatted about what it was like to perform on TV during the medium's first few years. Few rules, everything live, massive amounts of time to fill (Wonderama, for instance, was on six hours a day) and you were successful depending on how many people bothered to tune you in.

Doesn't this remind you of something...? Like...the Internet today? Compare that description with this recent New York Times story on the life (and sometimes death) of a high-profile tech blogger.

My point is: Look at television. That which was once wild and free is tightly controlled, regulated and highly commercial today, and only a carefully chosen, vetted and made-up few are now seen on this medium. The Internet can head in that direction too, or in the direction of open, free, community-driven.

Net neutrality can seem like not that big a deal, even to those of us who live most of our lives on the Internet. But it's a first step. Let Comcast, Time Warner and Cox and their brethren take that first step to controlling what is carried on their networks and you've set them up to become the NBC, ABC and CBS of the future Internet.

A law that decrees all ISPs must broadcast everything equally would be a big step toward making sure that future doesn't happen.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Do Geeks Need Sales Training?

Yes, according to Martyn Lewis, founder of Market-Partners, and once a lowly geek himself who screwed up his fair share of sales by not understanding the process.

There's a great story in The Geek Gap, courtesy of Paul Glen, author of Leading Geeks, about an engineer on a visit to a customer, who, when asked for his opinion of the company's technology replies "You have NT installed on some of your servers. Only an idiot would do that." And didn't realize that he had blown the sale. Of course most geeks would be smart enough not to do something like this, or so you might think.

The days of keeping geeks locked in the basement are long over. In successful companies, especially technology companies, they have to interact with customers. Can sales training help them be better at it?

That's the subject of my new article in Inc. Technology on the Inc. Magazine website. It turned out to be a pretty fun piece...if you check it out, let me know your opinion.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

New Geek Gap content at SAP's BPX Community

We're getting more involved in SAP's BPX community!

BPX stands for "business process expert"--what we call go-betweens, the increasingly important liaisons between the business world and the tech world.

We've begun contributing regular content to the site, as articles, blogs and wikis, and it's some of the most fun writing we've done for a while.

Here's our first entry, about how the 2010 Census field operatives will have to collect information with paper and pencils, just as they would have in the 19th Century, after the Census Bureau spent more than half a billion dollars trying to get handheld devices into the field.

Let us know what you think!