Be Skeptical of 'Market-Speak'

A pitch's "market-speak" often masks the product's true value.

March 31, 2003

1 Min Read
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Maybe I've sat through one too many vendor meetings. After a 30-minute monologue, complete with PowerPoint slides showing how this widget mimics the behavior of some unrelated system and the benefits thus derived, the presenter takes a breath and asks: "Any questions?" Invariably my response is, "In English, what is this thing's function?"

Case in point: a recent meeting with TippingPoint Technologies regarding its UnityOne, a network intrusion-prevention device that detects and optionally blocks attacks passing through it. During the briefing, CEO John McHale said the device patches system vulnerabilities. "Patches systems?" I asked. "You mean it installs software on servers?"

"Well, no," McHale replied. "It blocks the vulnerability."

"That isn't patching," I countered.

McHale also said UnityOne blocks all attacks. I clarified that UnityOne blocks only the attacks that pass through it. "No, no," he said. "It blocks all attacks. It sees all traffic.""Really? How can it see traffic that doesn't pass through it?" I asked. We debated this point until McHale conceded that UnityOne can block only the attacks that the device sees, but that all traffic passes over the backbone, so UnityOne can see all traffic.

A pitch's "market-speak" often masks the product's true value. Listen closely and question anything that sounds too perfect.

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