Home Truths: Wizards and geeks


Lesson #1: Wizards, Geeks and Magicians

You’ll like this, not a lot, but you’ll like it. In a quiet moment last week I was watching a movie in which Michael Caine delivered the line, ‘He’s not a magician, he’s a wizard, he can actually do magic’.

I’m not going to give away the plot, but I am going to use this pearl of cinematic wisdom as the catalyst for… a rant about ‘unified communications’.

How many of you have heard of TALC, or ‘Technology Adoption Life Cycle’ to give you its Sunday name? Well you should have.

When any potentially life(style)-changing piece of technology comes along, its universal adoption follows a familiar pattern.

First the gadget freaks and then the visionaries take the plunge. The gadget freak wants it just because it’s new and shiny; the visionary can see how to utilise it to help him or others achieve new and improved performance. (Visionaries who see profit opportunities are actually entrepreneurs.)

Next come the pragmatists. They will happily invest if you can show them the benefits and prove others have already experienced them.

Then come the conservatives who will ultimately go with the flow, and finally come the laggards. One of whom was spotted last week in Argos trying to buy a new spindle for his VCR.

Our challenge/problem/opportunity now is how to bridge ‘the gap’ between the last of the (very few) visionaries and the millions of pragmatists.

The traditional mobile dealer has been giving away phones and margin to conservatives and laggards for many years, and as a result is very good at it.

But that is not the way to bridge ‘the gap’, which is where we are in the unified communications market today.

Assuming that those who know how to cross ‘the gap’ are still to be found in the mobile industry and are in positions of influence, there is hope. If not, there’s lots of painful mistakes/valuable learning experiences to look forward to.

By way of explanation:

Wizards: (n) Persons with specialist skills and knowledge who can apply it to complex real world situations and communicate it to normal people with little or no specialist skills or knowledge in such a way that normal people can understand it and have the confidence to follow their advice. NB: Most wizards are able to speak ‘geek’.

Geeks: (n) Essential persons with undoubted specialist skills and knowledge who can only apply and communicate it to other geeks. NB: Of no practical use without a Wizard. 

Magicians: (n) Persons with little or no relevant specialist skills or knowledge in today’s market but who would like normal people and their boss to think that they do. NB: Scared of Wizards.

Normal People: (n) Persons who are sceptical of new unproven technology offered by Geeks or Magicians. NB: They have all the money, they trust Wizards.

Traditional Dealer: (n) Person who is worried today.


1. Expose the Magicians. Then remove from the stage.

2. Gather Geeks in a darkened room, supply with beer, pizza and latest copy of Virtual War Gamer Weekly then send a Wizard in to check up on them on a regular basis to extract and then translate good ideas. 

3. Only let Wizards talk to existing and potential customers.

4. If you don’t have a Wizard… get one or more now.

5. If you can’t tell the difference between Magicians, Geeks and Wizards seek professional help.

Alasdair Jeffrey is an independent consultant. He has worked in fixed line, IT and mobile. Contact aj@alasdairjeffrey.co.uk

This article originally appeared in Mobile News issue 433 (February 23, 2009).

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