Free set of steak knives...and there's more!

I'm still waiting for the day I receive a vendor press release boasting of single-digit growth. Now this would be highly unusual.

It is always double- or triple-digit growth, business is always booming and the sun is always shining.

Every time I read one of these press releases I feel like a set of free streak knives is about to fall from the sky; they really do engage in the hard sell.

A case in point is Oracle. This week the company issued a statement boasting 80 percent growth across the Asia-Pacific region.

All this really proves is that acquisitions can really bump up those quarterly figures. But wait...there's more!

In the financial sector Oracle had 254 percent growth, in manufacturing it was 55 percent and for CRM, a whopping 272 percent.

Oracle VP Mark Gibbs attributes this to the Siebel effect, claiming there have been a few defections in recent months.

This is but one statement from a single vendor. SAP too was raving about its own results.

Every quarter my inbox is cluttered with extraordinary tales of unprecedented success.

You see, one of the joys of being a journalist is having to trawl through hundreds of puff releases every single day. Oops, did I say puff release, I meant to say press release. But you get the picture? Lots of puff, plenty of spin and a whole lot of cheesy PR (public relations). Vendors spend a small fortune engaging these PR firms who churn out these puff pieces at a wholesale rate. In fact, technology is the only media sector where there are three to four PRs to one lone journalist.

They claim, the PRs are necessary because the subject matter is highly technical. IT needs to be filtered, put into layman terms to ensure it is understood.

But personally I think the only filter this stuff needs is a BS filter.

Back in the old days, vendors simply advertised, but now they try to control all the editorial content that you read via these puff releases. As a result, access to independent information and commentary on technology and trends is a highly valued resource.

IT professionals cannot rely on those corny case studies published on vendor Web sites, or fritter away tight budgets on expensive research. IT managers need the right information to make the right decisions. And it needs to be independent, free of falling steak knives.

That is why the launch of the CIO Executive Council this week is such a momentous event (see story page 1).

It provides IT pros with direct access to their peers in a forum free of a political agenda or vendor involvement.

Members can compare notes and work as a collective group.

With chapters being established across the globe, local CIOs can also leverage the expertise of their international counterparts.

And it is certainly timely. Established in a year when consolidation has created fewer suppliers, access to independent information is shrinking, and the PR spin is getting louder, the council is right on time. Where do you get your independent information? Feedback to

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