• May 1, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Do You Believe the Hype?

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Memo from the desk of Marshall Lager, May’s Chief Antihype Officer:

Don't believe the hype.
You didn't hear me.
Don't believe the hype.

That's my only message this month, but I'm deadly serious about the hype, and keeping you from believing it. The hype is all around us, and it will twist your mind. Flavor Flav himself advised us not to believe the hype--and he's a professional Hype Man, so he should know if anyone does.

It's part of my job to mentor the other staffers and keep our content hype-free. My message of hype disbelief is usually taken seriously, but sometimes we let our guard down, and hype gets believed. Just the other week I was warning Assistant Editor Colin Beasty (see his photograph) not to believe the hype while writing a news story, but he went ahead and believed it anyway. The very next day, he was home sick with a stomach virus. I blame the hype.

What am I talking about, you may ask? Buzz. Word of mouth. Reputation. All of these ideas are hype. Advertising, marketing, and public relations are all hype and I mean no disrespect to people who work in those jobs. My issue is that all of it is an attempt to get you to buy a product (or accept a fact) based solely on hype.

For a nonbusiness example, the Beatles were not the greatest or most revolutionary band to ever record an album. I'm not saying you can't love the Beatles and think that they were awesome, but those are opinions--you can't prove them. If you hate '60s pop music there's no way the Fab Four will work for you. Don't believe the hype. Use the hype as a stepping-off point for your own investigation.

Politicians are possibly the worst perpetrators of sound-bite warfare, jabbing your eardrums with their campaign hype(o-dermic needles). Do the research and get to the root of what they really mean by death tax, family values, stem-cell research, and faith-based initiatives. Consider that the average citizen barely understands the archaic language of the U.S. Constitution--a document that hasn't ever had the regular review it was supposed to--yet people use its rhetoric as if it were holy writ. Don't believe the hype.

In the CRM world there are companies and initiatives that are chock full o' hype, and no matter how good they may actually be, I advise you to not believe the hype. I'm not going to name names, because I like and respect the organizations involved. But, for instance, an online community of third-party vendors may not be the best way to build out your apps infrastructure. Hey, on-demand itself isn't ideal for everybody. Examine your choices. Don't believe the hype.

SOA is another great idea, but it's just another way of integrating applications. Until there is critical mass in platforms, applications, and service registries, it's all just tech with limited impact for the average user company. Maybe it's exactly what you need, maybe it's not. Don't believe the hype.

Make the changes you need to in your life, in your government, in your business processes, whatever. But make them because they're right for you, not because somebody with interests and agendas of their own told you they were right. Don't believe the hype.

Contact Senior Editor Marshall Lager at mlager@destinationCRM.com.

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