Driving home the other night I heard a story about a Mexican soccer team who replaced the names on their jerseys with their twitter handles. According to this article, the club gave a statement that said: “in football as in life, 140 characters are enough to decide what side you are on”.
Scary statement, and even scarier if you think about how we make real life decisions. Are we creating a generation that structures their opinions on small snippets of data provided by a single source? What if this was to become common practice? I call this phenomenon Assumptive Reality.
Assumptive Reality is a self-perpetuating state of mind where we move away from our standard course of due diligence by trying to find the answers we want stated by sources we find. In today’s society, speed is king. Finding a source of information quickly is often more important than validating the information we uncover. It’s even better if that source “validates” our already established opinions.
Think about how you make IT decisions today. You first state or define your need and create a set of requirements. Generally those requirements include both hard and soft criteria. Hard criteria would be tightly defined and foundational in nature. Soft criteria might be specifications within a tolerance, where changes up or down can be absorbed without significant impact. After you have defined the requirements, you then research solutions that meet or exceed those requirements. If the research is in a field or on a topic not in your wheelhouse, you would generally seek out an expert opinion.
This is where you first encounter external influence in your decision making process and potentially run into Assumptive Reality. Assumptive Reality occurs when you accept as fact information you receive from a single source without knowing that source’s motivation for providing that information, or from multiple sources without understanding the relationship between those sources. We see it in every aspect of today’s life. Do you watch a single local news channel or multiple ones? How many sports sites do you visit before you decide to make changes to your fantasy team? Because someone tweeted from the account @BPGlobalPR does that validate the source as BP (see Forbes article)?
We all have to rely on outside expertise at some point, and we may not always have the time to validate the information we scrounge up or double-check the sources. When considering significant change, the selection of proper external opinion becomes even more challenging, and more critical. Areas of concern in which you hold little or no experience, and that could result in significant disruption or change, require you to go further afield and to extend your level of trust in data being returned.
So what does this have to do with our Journey to the Cloud? Well, the move toward cloud as an integral component of an overall IT strategy certainly could qualify as significant change. This means that most organizations will have to rely on outside expertise in the selection, integration and management of cloud services. And with the overwhelming volume of services advertising themselves as either cloud-based or cloud-ready, having a focused advisor to cut through the hype to what is real could be the most critical factor of all.
How do you avoid Assumptive Reality when considering cloud services? First, get ahead of the demand. Begin your search for information and reliable sources early, allowing yourself the time to validate what you find and what you are told. Second, understand the prejudices of your sources. Are they only focused on cloud services? Are they technology or service agnostic? Lastly, go into the process with an open mind, and evaluate what you learn based on your own terms and not on assumptions.
Imagine if we all agreed with the perspective of that Mexican soccer club. Whenever a new communication technology emerges, the potential impact of false or fraudulent information grows exponentially. Just ask those that on Sunday, October 30th, 1938 really thought the world was being invaded by Martians (see War of the Worlds article), or how the Y2K bug was going to bring down the worlds electrical grids or cause havoc with nuclear power stations.