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Sam being wrong

Dear Frost & Sullivan: I’m sorry

 - 
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Many of you may have read this post of mine from the other day regarding Frost & Sullivan’s mention of Niscayah in a press release.

Now that certain information has been delivered to me, I must apologize to Frost & Sullivan for what I wrote. It was irresponsible of me to jump to erroneous conclusions about a quid pro quo relationship with Niscayah that does not exist. It was wrong of me to question the integrity of the report’s author. Especially, being a reporter who knows better, I should have at least called and asked the question before being so judgmental and mean-spirited.

I am a bad person. This is not the first time my badness has come to light. I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

Further, I probably shouldn’t have been so snarky in my analysis of the press release as a whole. I haven’t read the entire report, and I was being funny at Frost & Sullivan’s expense, really for no good reason. I was being a dick, which sometimes happens. Good for Frost & Sullivan for calling me on it.

I apologize, too, to my readers. I’ve abused your trust in me to discover and write the truth, by giving you bad information. I wish I hadn’t done that.

For those interested, below is the correspondence which drew my attention to my bad-personness. For the record, Matia is clearly a nicer and more forgiving person than me:

Mr. Pfeifle,

I just went through your blog related to the Press Release on Retail and it’s clear that you do not rate Frost & Sullivan highly. I’m not looking to change your view overnight but stress that the work we have delivered to Tier 1 players in Europe this year has been very well received including the Retail project.

We are disappointed that you have attacked a press release that only reports headline figures rather than understanding what the report contains. If you had contacted us we would have discussed the results with you in more detail and still welcome you to do so. We will be delighted to share some of the more detailed results in the report for you to share with your readership.

In addition to the above I must stress that we have received no payment from Niscayah for reporting this Press Release. The Niscayah contract win in the Netherlands earlier this year happened to coincide with the completion of the retail project and supported conclusions from the  project. We contacted Niscayah and asked whether they would like to be featured in the article and they agreed.

You make other comments that we will openly debate with you and provide hard facts from the research to support our position.

We look forward to discussing your blog and views in more detail.

Regards

Matia

Here’s my response to that:

Hi Matia,

You write, “In addition to the above I must stress that we have received no payment from Niscayah for reporting this Press Release.”

Is it “no payment for reporting this press release” or that they are not a client of yours at all?

If they are not a client of yours at all, I will of course retract my  statements and issue an apology. Their inclusion in the release just seemed odd and strangely placed, so that I leaped to what may very well have been an erroneous conclusion, which of course would be irresponsible of me.

That was the central reason for my posting. If you want to debate the finer points of other pieces, I’m happy to, but I think they’re largely irrelevant to why I was writing about the release. If Niscayah had not been mentioned, I would have just passed it by. We don’t much cover the European marketplace.

If you’ll clarify your business relationship with Nicayah, I’ll either retract or not, based on your reply, and the rest can be dealt with in the comments section, if you so choose.

Cheers,

Sam

Really, I’m still being a jerk there. I should have been a little more contrite, in retrospect.

And, finally, Matia’s last reply, which pretty much closes the deal on me being wrong about the press release and my blog being a dick move:

Hi Samuel,

Obviously we have done work in the past with Niscayah as we have done work with virtually all the Tier 1 players in the market but I don’t get paid to mention a specific company or product in my press releases. I consider myself as a serious professional and I would like to be treated as such.

Mentioning them here was only a reflection of the new focus the company is putting on verticals outside of banking in Europe. Mentioning historical players like ADT or Diebold or Chubb or Nedap or the other historically strong players in the retail market would not have made much sense in this specific press release. I would have been more than happy to mention other players such as Thales or EADS or Elsag or whoever if they had come up with any recent announcement.

On the point of ” they’re largely irrelevant to why I was writing about the release” that is not what comes across in the blog. 80% of it is taking apart a 200 word press release based on 100 pages and several months of project work. I do not feel this is a fair representation of the hard work that my team put into this and if you had got in touch with Frost (or me directly) I would have been more than happy to give you more insight and more hard data on why some of the conclusions we put in the PR and also why I mentioned Niscayah directly.

We need to have impartiality in the market to remain credible with our clients in Europe and your assertion that we’re taking money to plug companies is wrong. You’ve also left an impression that the report is wrong (again based on a 200 words article) and as a result ask you to remove the blog which could be very damaging to our reputation in Europe. Many security organisations are Global.

I’d also like to again extend the invite to talk about the report in more detail and/or also how we can have a more collaborative relationship in the future with me and my team here in Europe.

Matia

Yes, I’m as shocked as you are that she offered an olive branch at the end there. Like I said, better person than me.

So, why did I jump to such an erroneous conclusion?

Well, in my experience, it’s just not often that a research firm releases notice of a report and chooses to only highlight one company in the press release. Further, this is how Frost & Sullivan describes itself in press releases, etc.:

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, enables clients to accelerate growth and achieve best in class positions in growth, innovation and leadership. The company’s Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEO’s Growth Team with disciplined research and best practice models to drive the generation, evaluation and implementation of powerful growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan leverages over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from more than 35 offices on six continents. To join our Growth Partnership, please visit http://www.frost.com.

They don’t tout themselves as a research firm, but as a “growth partnership” firm. Thus, I assumed, incorrectly, that they were “partnered” here with Niscayah, and that was the reason they were mentioned and no other integrator was. Again, I was wrong, and for that I apologize.

Can’t say sorry enough, really, but I’m not going to take down the offending post (I’ve altered it to make it clear it’s erroneous, at the top), since I think it’s instructive to watch a self-absorbed asshole journalist like myself self-implode in a fiery ball of wrongness. Also, there’s an interesting discussion in the comments field.

When people in the mainstream media worry about the dangers of blogging, this is what they’re worried about.