The lead up to the launch of the iPhone 5 as well as the actual announcement leaves nobody with any doubt that marketing (if used correctly) is a powerful mechanism to convince and manipulate people into taking a position and influencing future behaviours (in this case buying patterns).
It has an unfortunate side-effect… one that brings out a darker side of the human psyche and has the potential to be destructive to the person being influenced by the marketing spin, but also to other people who don’t hold the same view. Its called Technology-Fundamentalism.
During the lead up to the announcement of the iPhone 5, I would periodically read articles on the likely features and changes to the phone on “balanced-view” websites. What struck me more though, were the comments section at the end of the article, where readers can provide their owns views and comments. To say that it often turned into a ‘war of words’ is an understatement, the iPhone fan-boy club would be absolutely ruthless generally towards anything Android and visa versa – I have no doubt that many of these on-line discussions could turn into nasty brawls if all the contributors where physically sitting in the same location. Why is this, and is this healthy ? – has effective smartphone marketing turned people against each other to the extent that they cannot acknowledge the positives of another product without feeling that they are going against their Smartphone doctrine.
It got me thinking about the world of HR software, which I take a particular interest in. There is a lot of similarity in the dialogue between smartphone owners and HR software users/vendors/consultants. And it is very prevalent in the SAP, Oracle, Workday, Taleo, SuccessFactors space – most people working with these solutions tend to align themselves with a company or a product and fight “Tooth & Nail” to convince you that their chosen product is better than the others.
I have no doubt that in each of the mentioned products there is functionality, components and tools that are better than the other products, but they are also likely to have their weaknesses which are either obvious or are not discussed so that they create the impression of “Perfection”.
And people in this space go to extremes (fundamentalism) – I was once hosting an HRIS session at which all the main ERP / SaaS players were in attendance. I spent some time chatting to the country MD of Workday, which obviously offended the SuccessFactor guy, who thought it correct to lay a formal complaint to my employer. Admittedly, these sort of behaviours are extreme, but it shows you how people can be absolutely in love with their technology, that they will go to great extremes to if required.
On a practical level, I have seen functional consultants making fundamental mistakes in trying to convince clients that they can MAKE their product do what the client needs (and often the client agrees because they don’t know better), when clearly there are other solutions and options that are better. You can do just about anything with most HR technologies if you want to, but that doesn’t make it right.
So being passionate about you product (or your phone) is good, it drives one to greater depths of understanding that can be very powerful, but there are limits, that if you pass, you become obsessed and start thinking everyone who is using another HR tool (or uses another phone) is making a huge mistake. That’s the sad part!
To all the SAP, Oracle, Workday and other product fundamentalist – take a step back and explore the other solutions and offerings – you’ll firstly be amazed at the similarities, but also realise that there is other ways to do things as effectively as your product does. Your ability to help your clients will be significantly improved and you can broaden your understanding of HR technology significantly. Who knows, you may even find it easier to switch from your Samsung or iPhone…..
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