The Bitstream Blog :: Posts

Where did I put my blinders?

Hallo hoppy reader,

Today is Father’s Day and, since it’s “my” day, I can do what I please. So, I’m gonna rant, specifically about the “I” word, interoperability. In our modern IT–centric world of business, I am amazed when I encounter companies that don’t realize the costs of siding with proprietary systems by choice. This installment of the Bitstream examines a few of those costs and, in the process, provides a not so gentle jab at the IT department of one of my local banking institutions.

I’ve harped on the need for interoperability countless times…er, OK, eighteen to be exact. Nonetheless, many businesspeople opt to start a project from scratch using proprietary hardware or software. You’d think they should know better but, when a core feature or function is available only from one vendor, then some times you have to just knuckle under and go with the sole source. Often, the reason the core feature or function is novel is because the vendor intentionally designed their product to be closed, as is often the case in my world with category leaders like Microsoft and Avid.

I love it [not] when their marcom departments put out verbiage that reinforces their position that they’re open and competitor–cuddly. Hah, I laugh at your marketspeak! That’s usually how many companies attain their prominent market position, by publicly promoting their openness while excluding other companies from interoperating with their stuff. There are times, however, when a project goes the closed route because of simple ignorance, outright stupidity or, in the case of my bank, avowed laziness.

I use several financial institutions for their particular strength. My bank, Bank of the West, was chosen because of their generally sensible policies, relative size (they haven’t been swallowed repeatedly by larger institutions) and the convenient locations of their branches. Last time I was physically in my local branch, one of the functionaries was helping me with a new ATM card for my business account. He proceeded to sell me on the merits of their new electronic banking service for SMBs. I informed him there was nothing wanting in the existing e–banking service but was assured that the new WebDirect service was a direct replacement for the existing service and I could just carry on as usual. I assumed that they were upgrading their infrastructure and wanted to migrate customers to the new service. “OK, I’ll sign up,” sez I, fine and dandy…

Sorry, time to have some fun…to be continued. l8r, doode!


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