Curt Monash, whom I respect and have tried to interview (unsuccessfully) points out suitable ethical dilemmas and gray areas in Analyst Relations in Business Intelligence here at http://www.dbms2.com/2010/07/30/advice-for-some-non-clients/
If you dont know what Analyst Relations are, well it’s like credit rating agencies for BI software. Read Curt and his landscaping of the field here ( I am quoting a summary) at http://www.strategicmessaging.com/the-ethics-of-white-papers/2010/08/01/
Vendors typically pay for
- They want to connect with sales prospects.
- They want general endorsement from the analyst.
- They specifically want endorsement from the analyst for their marketing claims.
- They want the analyst to do a better job of explaining something than they think they could do themselves.
- They want to give the analyst some money to enhance the relationship,
Merv Adrian (I interviewed Merv here at http://www.dudeofdata.com/?p=2505) has responded well here at http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/23040/white-paper-sponsorship-and-labeling/
None of the sites I checked clearly identify the work as having been sponsored in any way I found obvious in my (admittefly) quick scan. So this is an issue, but it’s not confined to Oracle.
My 2 cents (not being so well paid ;) are-
I think Curt was calling out Oracle (which didnt respond) and not Merv ( whose subsequent blog post does much to clarify).
As a comparative new /younger blogger in this field,
I applaud both Curt to try and bell the cat ( or point out what everyone in AR winks at) and for Merv for standing by him.
In the long run, it would strengthen analyst relations as a channel if they separate financial payment of content from bias. An example is credit rating agencies who forgot to do so in BFSI and see what happened.
Customers invest millions of dollars in BI systems trusting marketing collateral/white papers/webinars/tests etc. Perhaps it’s time for an industry association for analysts so that individual analysts don’t knuckle down under vendor pressure.
It is easier for someone of Curt, Merv’s stature to declare editing policy and disclosures before they write a white paper.It is much harder for everyone else who is not so well established.
White papers can take as much as 25,000$ to produce- and I know people who in Business Analytics (as opposed to Business Intelligence) slog on cents per hour cranking books on R, SAS , webinars, trainings but there are almost no white papers in BA. Are there any analytics independent analysts who are not biased by R or SAS or SPSS or etc etc. I am not sure but this looks like a good line to pursue ;) – provided ethical checks and balances are established.
Personally I know of many so called analytics communities go all out to please their sponsors so bias in writing does exist (you cant praise SAS on a R Blogging Forum or R USers Meet and you cant write on WPS at SAS Community.org )
– at the same time someone once told me- It is tough to make a living as a writer, and that choice between easy money and credible writing needs to be respected.
Most sponsored white papers I read are pure advertisements, directed at CEOs rather than the techie community at large.
Almost every BI vendor claims to have the fastest database with 5X speed- and benchmarking in technical terms could be something they could do too.
Just like Gadget sites benchmark products, you can not benchmark BI or even BA products as it is written not to do so in many licensing terms.
Probably that is the reason Billions are spent in BI and the positive claims are doubtful ( except by the sellers). Similarly in Analytics, many vendors would have difficulty justifying their claims or prices if they are subjected to a side by side comparison. Unfortunately the resulting confusion results in shoddy technology coming stronger due to more aggressive marketing.