Monday, July 18, 2011

Integrity: You either have it or you don't

Hello Folks!

These past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about integrity and ethics. To my way of thinking, integrity - being honest and truthful - is paramount both personally and professionally. And, generally, I believe that most people and organizations embrace this concept.

However, recently, I encountered an exception. Here's what happened:

Several weeks ago I visited a certain Business Intelligence software vendor's offices where they briefed me on their latest product release. During my visit (during which the CEO was present) it became clear that they had been actively using some of my copyrighted content without permission.

To be clear, I make a lot of my content available for free - on my blog, through social media and through the trade press. Had this vendor asked me, I would have directed them to one of those sources. Instead, they chose to use content directly from a copyrighted study - without permission and to which they were not entitled.

When I challenged them, they apologized, told me it was an oversight, and assured me that they would properly license the content. Ultimately, they reneged on that commitment and removed the content instead of licensing it.

At the heart of the matter is an issue of integrity. Had I not happened to visit them, they would have continued to use my intellectual property without permission. This scenario is even more surprising since this very issue (IP protection) remains a daunting software industry problem.

Some colleagues have encouraged me to expose their identity. Instead, I am using this as the impetus to add a new "Integrity" metric to the Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study (TM) for 2012. In this way, all vendors' customers will have a chance to share their opinions regarding the honesty and truthfulness of vendors - including the one that I have been referring to.

In conclusion, I believe that we should all strive to conduct ourselves with the utmost personal and professional integrity. And, we must insist upon it from others. Those lacking integrity (including BI software vendors) should be shunned.

What's your opinion?




  1. If you can't be sincere, fake it.

    Seriously, Last year I came across a business school professor who had plagiarized one of my Meta Group research notes. I didn't call him out on it because we were developing a business relationship. Should I have done so?

  2. Doug,

    Thanks for your comment. You raise an important point, which is: are we duty-bound to expose violations? Is challenging the individual enough? Is turning a "blind eye" tolerable?

    In my circumstance, the party in question was directly challenged and forced to remove the content. And, while public humiliation might satisfy the desire for retaliation, I decided it was unproductive. Instead, I will add a new metric - "integrity" - to next year's study - and will allow all customers to score their vendors appropriately.