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Survey Results Unsurprisingly in Favour of Company That Paid for Them

Any time that the results of a new survey are announced, especially a survey that seems to paint a company in a positive light, questions must be asked as to who is responsible for the funding and setup of the particular survey or analysis. Generally, it is the company being reported on favourably that is funding the survey, even if the survey is being run by a nominally independent organisation.

This pattern of behaviour seems to be most obvious in Information Technology, where the survey and associated analysis seem to be the method-du-jour for companies to gain favourable press and to make it look like an independent source is painting them in a positive light. If a business purchasing decision can be based off such a report, then it is all the better for the original company.

The Harrison Group recently ran a survey, paid for by Microsoft, that found that companies running incorrectly licenced versions of Windows were more likely to run into problems such as system failures and loss of customer data. With Microsoft paying for the survey, was any different result really to be expected?

With unlicenced systems almost certainly using digital perfect copies of licenced software, why should there be any difference with how stable the systems are? One of the suggestions put forward in the article is that whoever is responsible for the copied software has slipstreamed something malicious in with it. It would be more likely that a company that is unwilling to spend funds on licenced software would be unwilling to spend funds on properly maintaining their systems - and so be more likely to encounter problems extending from not maintaining their systems than they would from just having unlicenced software.

In order to see a result like that, though, we are going to have to wait until a system administration service provider runs their own set of surveys.

6 October 2008

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