Inside the mind of the enemy: the business analyst

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.


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