Photo by Jimmy Brown, CC license


FUD stands for fear, uncertainty, and doubt, and was a phrase used in the early 1980s to describe the unsettling and confusing atmosphere companies faced as they began investing heavily in software applications.

In 1979 Gideon Gartner, formerly a top technology analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., capitalized on that confusion and formed an advisory firm to help companies with technology decisions. Gartner Inc. now has a market value exceeding $4 billion and customers in 85 countries.

Although we have software tools far superior to what was available in the the 1980s, FUD still exists.

It exists wherever software marketers and commercial enterprises interact.  The dialogue is predictable: “Can your system do this, that, and the other thing.”  “Our system can do that, and much more; it can do X, Y, and Z.”

But the two parties (software, business) are talking past each other.  They aren’t even using the same language.

Software marketing is filled with evocative corporate-speak; it is opaque, conceptual, and general.  Meanwhile, the business person looking for a solution is mired in her own problematic world and knows in general what she needs but doesn’t realize that the software company she is speaking to has no idea of the details of her situation and even more cannot imagine it.

They speak to one another and try to find some common things they both agree on and understand.  The business person is left bewildered.  FUD.

Money pits thrive where FUD exists.  In this situation, bad and costly decisions are highly probable.

  • Take a step back and evaluate your business and technology strategy.  Do you really need this technology or could you outsource the whole business process?  Will the investment in this technology make my customers happier?
  • Before considering any solutions offered by software vendors, take the time to evaluate processes the software will support, document how those processes should flow in the future, and prepare a detailed list of requirements for the future application.  You will use this to evaluate the “fit” of each software solution to your situation.
  • Like anything else, educate yourself before you buy.  Understand the type of technology you need, and the options available in the current market.  An advisory firm is recommended here; it will cost you a fraction of what you intend to spend and save you multiples of that.
  • Change the conversation with the vendor.  Stop talking about the software.  Instead talk about your business context and the goals you have.  Most vendors really do want to understand your needs but they don’t have the advantage of being in your shoes.
  • Take the vendor’s software solution for an imaginary “test drive.”  Spend time with the vendor walking through your future process and the associated technology requirements.  The result will be much more clarity and understanding of the vendor’s potential to meet your needs.