I’ve had a lot of discussions lately that touched on the same subject. The official topic was something else, but this other issue kept appearing as an important part of whatever the discussion happened to be:

What makes the technology industry different?

Let’s say that you’re talking to your parents, trying to explain what it’s like working in a company like HP, Microsoft, or SAP. Some details are going to be the same. Your boss is a overbearing control freak. People misbehave at the Christmas party. It’s creepy to have an HR person drop by for a chat. Top managers don’t know what life is like in the trenches. Blah blah blah.

However, technology companies have their own peculiarities. In fact, what makes the technology industry (TI) different is what has kept the social scientist inside of me utterly fascinated. It’s also an important touchstone, I’d argue, for what analysts do. It’s tough to give advice to people whom you don’t really understand, or worse, don’t appear to understand.

It’s interesting to look at the two ongoing surveys in light of the peculiarities of TI. (You just knew I was going to mention the surveys again, didn’t you?) The tools that product managers in TI use are, to some extent, a byproduct of TI. In fact, without giving away how the movie ends, the choice of tools seems counterintuitive, given where these PMs work. The job description survey has even more TI-specific pecularities, traits you wouldn’t expect to see in similar jobs in different industries.

As I said, fascinating.

[P.S. I’m always comforted to know that it takes no effort whatsoever to find kitschy illustrations like the Special Friend pendant shown here. The Internet is truly wondrous.]