Inside the mind of the enemy: the business analyst

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For those who don't interact with the business world, there are a classification of middle management assistants called the 'business analyst'. These analysts help middle management hobble along, either directly or through some widely read newspaper or magazine or website by telling bosses what the future of their industry is. They are our enemy.

They predict the future through a combination of careful wording, stating the obvious in an interesting way, voodoo magic, and rubber chickens. Most people don't take stock into what most business analysts say, but the atypical pointy haired boss will buy right into what they say.

How the West was ... lost?

Business analysts like directions. "Our company is going in this direction," or, "their company is going in that direction," or, "SCO is going straight to jail, failing to pass go, and not collecting 200 monetary units." Sometimes they are right, of course.

Business analysts do exactly what their title implies: figure out what a company is doing, where it's going, how it's going there, and (assuming you're the competition) how much they are a threat to you. For example, Microsoft's analysts have pretty much pointed at the free software community as a bunch of demons trying to destroy corporate America, or some suitably worse FUD.

Our not-so-friendly neighborhood analysts constantly fail when it comes to Linux: they keep trying to treat Linux as if it is a company. No, I don't mean various Linux companies themselves (Redhat, et. al), who do in fact make a profit off of helping to maintain some distribution or other product... but the Linux operating system itself: everything from the Linux kernel and basic userland to everything associated with it like the various desktop environments and all the popular applications people use.

Now, I will admit I don't understand the reasoning behind why analysts think Linux should act like a business. It doesn't exist to make a profit, it doesn't exist to sell a product, it doesn't exist to make people rich and powerful. It exists simply because developers all over the world willed it into existence via their favorite text editors.

The free and open source software community's mission statement boils down to simply producing software just for fun; this doesn't preclude that people do profit from this software, but most developers simply aren't doing this for the fame, the money, nor the power. They aren't doing this to compete in some marketplace, and they aren't doing this to prove they can code better than some guy in the corporate office block.

They can't be all bad... can they?

Now, I'm really only picking on the stereotypical business analysts. There are some out there who have their own little blogs, or their own little columns in small magazines, or those who mainly work for Silicon Valley companies: they get it. They are a new breed of analyst who sees what's coming down the pipe.

They see Linux on PDAs, they see Linux in watches, they see Linux on everyone's laptop, desktop, workstation, and server. They see Linux powering the next generation video game consoles, they see Linux in your car while you drive to work.

They see the penguin on the march, soon powering every single device out there, and I cannot say they are wrong in thinking this will happen. It will not happen overnight, it will not happen tommorow, but it will happen.

Those old school business analysts fail because they think Linux goes in some direction, but they simply don't get it: Linux goes in no single direction. Linux goes in all directions simultaneously.



Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Linux is oblivious to what it is "supposed" to be.

Terry Hancock's picture

I've heard friends of mine from the Dark Side who are afflicted with this misconception of Linux as if it were one company or organization with a single marketing strategy.

The truth is that Linux is an example of "Community Based Peer Production" (CBPP), which as I've argued elsewhere may evolve to replace the corporation as the most efficient means of large scale production, at least in information-dominated enterprises.

Contrary to the FUD, however, such CBPP arrangements aren't anti-commercial, they're just anti-corporate. What they should be expected to encourage is large free markets of smaller producers, replacing the "controlled market" internal to corporations.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I believe some of this FUD is a result of Linux affecting proprietary operating system provider profits. In a dawg eat dawg society, sympathisers and downright corporate assigned trolls post information with misinformation to dissuade the unaware to affect their opinion. To them, there is much at stake affecting corporate profits.

Mr. William Gates, Microsoft has been purchasing newspaper companies through his philanthropic interests. If media is owned, it is easier to inhibit writers from expressing favourable articles toward Linux and open source software.

One only needs to read troll posts on comp.os.linux.advocacy, to understand what I am expressing here.

Linux Advocate

Patrick McFarland's picture

Now I know Linux's method of development actually has a name. CBPP works.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Should this be Commons-based peer production?

Terry Hancock's picture

These labels are pretty new. I imagine you'll find more than just two variants on the idea. It's also just been called "peer production".

Still, if that's what Wikipedia wants to call it, that's more authoritative than me. ;-)

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

I'm confused as to what this article is about.

It seems to be based not on fact but rather to spring from prejudice from three years ago. The author makes vague, sweeping statements and yet doesn't give us the benefit of any supporting evidence.

If you actually read the output of some analysts you might be surprised at how well the understand the free software world. Try looking at the 451 Group's website and their daily links to open source related articles.

It's a shame that Free Software Magazine gives a platform to material such as this, which reflects poorly on the community as a whole.

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Patrick McFarland's picture


A wanderer among the free software community, I write what I want, when I want, and where I want to. Coding goes similar. I also write on my other blog.