Clarity, Not Obfuscation, Is The Solution
By Stephen Lawton
where you look, that word's there again. It's pernicious. It's insidious.
It's ubiquitous. It's all those long words rolled up into one. It's also
one other thing - useless. What's the word that has me so riled up? Solution.
An hour doesn't go by that I don't get a press
release, phone call, e-mail or carrier pigeon with a news release about
a solution. I went to a drugstore to pick up a quart of milk and on the
bag was the slogan: "It's not just a store - It's a solution."
I'm not sure I want to know just what kind of solution it is - a 7 percent
I challenge anyone to show me a technology solution.
I've seen hardware. I've seen software. I've seen suites. I've seen services.
I've seen support. And I've seen combinations of the above. But a solution,
that's something I have not seen.
Vendors will tell you their Widget V.2.pi is the Web
solution you need to fulfill your individual and collective destiny. And
marketing managers will tell you their solution is the greatest thing
since sliced bread. (What was the greatest thing before sliced bread,
It's time we put an end to this vague marketeering and
reduce sales and marketing to clarity, sacrilegious though it might be.
For example, here's a line from a letter I received
moments ago from a company that wanted to show me its solution to, well,
something. The product and company names have been changed because almost
any company and product name would fit the bill.
"The Super Duper 2000 from Big Bad Software offers
an ideal solution to the problem of efficiently organizing information
for electronic documentation, Intranets and the Web." ( Intranets
is spelled with a lowercase i, but I can fix that.) The good news here
is that the PR person at least said the software was a "solution
to the problem." However, I don't know that organizing all this information
is indeed the problem, nor do I know if the software is ideal or will
even solve this perceived problem.
Frankly, I'd be more interested in knowing exactly what
this puppy does - maybe something that analyzes all of a company's marketing
paraphernalia and posts only those items that I need to see when I need
to see them, rather than making me search through poorly designed Web
sites that use lots of words but say nothing.
And do I really need an ideal solution? How about the
best solution? Or will an adequate solution suffice? You could say it's
the ultimate solution, if you worked at Ultimate Technologies Inc. in
San Jose. No, I'd just as soon have PR folks and marketeers tell it like
it is: It's not a solution, it's a product or service.
Whether it's a solution is for the user to decide, not
the vendor. Now that I'm done with my tirade on solutions, what's next?
Can you say paradigm shift? Don't get me started.