Independent Anniversary

I have a calendar reminder that tells me when I founded Big Data Institute. It just told me I founded the company eight years ago. The reminder is called “Independent Anniversary.” It’s the day I split off and executed my vision for an independent, big data consulting company.

Independence has all sorts of manifestations. For you, it’s an independent look at technology and vendors from someone who’s worked at a vendor (Cloudera) and worked in distributed systems for even longer. I don’t have to adhere to a company line anymore. Technical product marketing positioning is essential for vendors and is pretty sticky. Once I left Cloudera, it took me a few years to be completely clear of their thoughts.

I see people complain about the lack of independent thought on technology. Most of the content you see is created by technical product marketing or developer advocates. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; there’s just a bias. You’re getting half the story or the story the vendor decided they needed to market. The message is, first and foremost, to benefit their shareholders and not the end customer.

On the other side of the coin, some independent thought isn’t really qualified to venture an opinion. I’ve seen some influencers with flat-out wrong interpretations of technologies (a fundamental misunderstanding of the technology rather than an opinion) or organizational design (those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it).

Be careful of who you listen to. Just because they’re an influencer doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about or are telling you the full story.

Being independent isn’t easy. After eight years, I can say it’s pretty tricky but rewarding. The high degree of difficulty is a big reason the top talent gets scooped up by vendors. I’ve had many friends thinking about going independent, reaching out to me, seeing how difficult it is, and deciding to join another vendor.

My first and foremost duty is to my clients. A vendor-neutral viewpoint with world-class skills is a big reason companies work with me. Please get in touch if that’s what you want for your company or team.