A few weeks ago I was approached to trial what was sold to me as “a Human Assistant for Journalists.” The promise was that whenever I needed an industry opinion, quote or an insight for a story I’m working on, this service will get it from a credible source (businesses/founder/CxOs.) I get about 50 emails a day offering me quotes from these sort of people but, ironically enough, they always come just when I’m NOT writing an article about their particular area of expertise, and never come right at the moment that I’m looking for a quote.

And so this service sounded attractive – essentially an easy way to get editorial assistance. I personally write every one of my blog posts, reports, newsletter and (most importantly) tweets, so having some assistance for quote acquisition sounds great to me.

And so I thought I’d try it out. I had a specific requirement for an initial test. I was writing a post about a new Forrester reports about subscription and billing platforms and I was keen to get a relevant quote. Without going into the mundane details (actually, I’m afraid I need to in order to illustrate my point), Forrester had decided to only rank vendors that ONLY offered a subscription platform – they specifically excluded vendors who offered billing services as part of an ERP or CRM system.

That seemed like a kind of bizarre qualification criteria, and so I decided to the journalistic assistant service to get me relevant quotes from the following classes of vendors: ERP, CRM, Billing platform, or payment gateways.

And so I sent off my little request and then watched, somewhat bemused, as the assistant service offered me quotes from a huge selection of vendors, precisely zero of whom has anything to do with the areas I was interested in.

I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, I’ve spent a decade watching this space and hence it is naïve to think that someone could have the intimate knowledge of particular areas to the same level. But you would have thought that any editorial assistant worth their salt would be able to do a Google search for the areas I was interested and, through a simple process of deduction, work out who specifically wasn’t in those areas.

Apparently not. it looks like I’ll have to go back to doing all my own sourcing again.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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