Stop Careless Mistakes

Author: John Honovich, Published on Oct 06, 2014

Careless mistakes are a big problem, especially among inexperienced people who naively scan, skip or assume.

Whether you are reading a quote, contract, specification, review or recommendation, you need to properly interpret the words / language presented.

In our experience, two causes of carelessness are common:

  • Assume related words are the same: Sophisticated, and often manipulative people, will choose words or groups of words that sound ordinary but mean something completely differently.
  • Skip / omit key qualifiers: Complicated language, especially in technology and engineering, are typically heavily qualified by experts, to be exact. Haste or inexperience often drives people to miss them.

Sometimes people flat out lie and sometimes they are dead wrong. But, most of the time, the correct answer can be found by reading carefully and unpacking the words used.

Examples

(1) Consider:

"Our company is engaged in over $200 million in sales."

Many people simply assume the company sold $200 million, as they focus on the word 'sales' but the really important part of that sentence is the 'engaged in' qualifier.

The company is not going to 'marry' money so they are using 'engaged' to most likely mean 'in the process of'.

The reason for this is that most people who puff themselves want to do it without directly lying. This company likely did engage in 'over $200 million in sales' but perhaps they only closed / booked / recognized $1 million of that. And, if called on this, they could retort by saying we never said we 'sold $200 million', we just said we were 'engaged in' it. 

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

(2) Consider:

"The camera has a 5MP imager."

Many people assume that this is a 5MP camera, ergo that the camera can deliver a 5MP stream. But notice that the manufacturer qualifies it with the noun 'imager'.

Typically, when this phrase / sentence structure is used, it means the camera outputs less than a 5MP stream, e.g. a 3MP or a 1080p stream is commonplace.

In this case, did the manufacturer intend to mislead? Does the reader simply not have the technical background to distinguish between imager and camera? This is harder to tell.

Regardless of where the fault lies, an experienced professional should spot the qualification and understand the limitations therein.

(3) Consider:

"I want to see 100 feet away. What resolution camera do I need?"

Many people will immediately retort with an answer - HD, 5MP, 10MP, etc. But you need at least one piece, and more likely two, to give an accurate answer.

The most critical is how wide an area one needs. If it is 5 feet wide, the answer is much different than 100 feet wide.

Yet, we have seen this time and again, people jump to conclusions on questions like this. Make sure that you have all the information you need. If you do not, ask for it specifically. Don't say something stupid like 'it depends on the application'. Respond with pointed questions like, "Tell me how wide an area you need to cover and how much details you want to capture?"

(4) Consider:

"Our product reduces storage costs by up to 90%."

Many people will assume that the product reduces storage costs 90%. They simply ignore the qualifier here - "up to"

This has become such a common problem, proved by studies, that the US Federal Trade Commission has stepped in to regulate this. Marketers, in particular, realize the power and therefore see the benefits of using 'up to' claims. The typical benefit may be negligible or minimal, but the careless reader will take away the eye popping up to number as typical.

(5) Consider:

"This camera can replace 10 traditional cameras" or "This camera gives you the same resolution as 10 traditional cameras."

Key in on the verb 'can' in the first sentence and the qualifier 'resolution' in the second.

'Can' typically mean to 'be able to do' something. Many readers will immediately conclude that they will be able to do this, i.e., replace 10 traditional cameras in their scenario. But that is not what the statement is saying. They are not guaranteeing you will be able to do it nor that this will always happen (notice: those qualifiers are not included). In fairness, using the word 'can' like this is similar to the misleading marketing of 'up to' claims but the careful, experienced professional is immediately aware of such concerns.

Secondly, notice that the second sentence includes the qualifier 'the same resolution'. The sentence could have been written "This camera is the same as 10 traditional cameras." However, the added qualifier is key to be 'truthful' yet still trick the careless reader. This also requires some technical knowledge, because amongst surveillance manufacturers resolution is defined as pixel count, not image quality

(6) Consider words like:

"typically", "in general, "most scenarios"

Describing how things work or how things are used can be challenging. Since the world is complex and not everyone uses things in the exact same way, it is important to qualify descriptions with limitations (typically, in general, etc.). Some will skip the qualifier and assume everyone does it this way. Others will find one counter case and conclude the entire statement is wrong. Make sure to note those qualifiers and consider the limitations and application of them.

(7) Consider words like:

"everything", "mandatory", "guaranteed"

To the contrary of point 6 above, sometimes statements include strengthening qualifiers. When these occur, the burden is much higher and the reader should be extra careful that there are no exceptions (especially if they are responding to such statements). Often, inexperienced readers will skip these words, simply assuming 'good enough' or 'close enough' is acceptable. However, when these strengthening qualifiers are included, make sure there are no exceptions.

Stop Being Carelessness

Carelessness is the number #1 problem we have found with inexperienced people. The details, especially in word choice, can make a huge difference in outcomes. Read statement carefully, spot the qualifiers and consider how those impacts what is being asked or claimed.

Comments (17): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Sales

Importance of Sales To Integrators - Statistics on Jun 23, 2017
One of the top trends in the industry over the past few years has been the rise of across-the-board sales (e.g.: Hikvision Sales, Dahua Sale,...
Resolver / PPM 2000 Incident Management Platform Profile on Jun 20, 2017
You might have seen the company whose employees wear hockey jerseys at trade shows and wondered "what do they do?" PPM 2000 has been active in...
Dahua Demotes USA CEO on Jun 19, 2017
Dahua has demoted their USA CEO Tim Wang. Inside this note, we examine the move, Dahua's challenges and what lies ahead for the...
Panasonic Sells VSaaS Company To Eagle Eye (Cameramanager) on Jun 15, 2017
While many VSaaS companies might hope for one acquisition, Cameramanager has managed to get acquired twice. First they were acquired by Panasonic,...
NLSS / ATV Partnership Examined on Jun 13, 2017
NLSS has been one of the most ambitious security / surveillance startups. After selling his last startup, Sypixx, to Cisco, Pete...
Non-Competes Divide Integrators on Jun 12, 2017
Non-competes are controversial legal agreements that prohibit parties (typically employees) from working in a similar role or trade of their...
Manufacturer Revenue Directory on Jun 05, 2017
This report contains data on the revenue of 32 security manufacturers, trend analysis of whether they are gaining or losing ground and commentary...
Honeywell Owned Dragonfly Tested on Jun 02, 2017
In 2016, Honeywell acquired RSI / Videofied for $123 million. Honeywell is marketing their DragonFly offering as "DIY for Our Dealers with an RMR...
Most Disrespected Manufacturer Competitors on Jun 01, 2017
Manufacturers told IPVM what competitor they most disrespected. There was one overwhelming selection that manufacturers felt was harming the...
Chinese Direct Disruptor Reolink Tested on May 31, 2017
Another Chinese disruptor, Reolink, is gaining attention. This one is selling direct from its own website, with fulfillment by Amazon. And a...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Importance of Sales To Integrators - Statistics on Jun 23, 2017
One of the top trends in the industry over the past few years has been the rise of across-the-board sales (e.g.: Hikvision Sales, Dahua Sale,...
Deep Learning Surveillance Startups Deep Problem on Jun 23, 2017
The undeniably good news for the video surveillance market is that we are seeing the rise of more startups than in many years. The cause of this...
Avigilon Announces RADAR-Based Presence Detector on Jun 22, 2017
RADAR is gaining momentum within physical security. Two months after Axis announced a network radar detector, Avigilon has announced a RADAR-Based...
Covert Cloud Camera Service Launching (KJB) on Jun 22, 2017
Cloud IP cameras, for consumers, has become increasingly commonplace. However, covert cameras, lag there, with few options. Now, North America's...
Manufacturers Shipping Unlicensed H.265 Products on Jun 22, 2017
While H.265 support in video surveillance is growing, IPVM's research shows that most surveillance manufacturers are shipping H.265 products with...
Uniview Low-Cost Bullet PTZ Tested on Jun 21, 2017
Uniview is offering a HD zoom bullet camera, the IPC742SR9-PZ30-32G, with an integrated pan / tilt positioner, for the price of a low-cost...
QSR Video Surveillance Best Practices on Jun 21, 2017
Fast food restaurants or QSRs (quick service restaurants), are frequent victims of crime and fraud. Because they are open late, deal with cash, and...
45 Drives 'Lowest Cost' Enterprise Storage Company Profile on Jun 21, 2017
45 Drives claims the "lowest cost per Hard Drive Slot in the industry." But who or what is '45 Drives'? What started as a product design to...
No Hack, Still Liable, Court Finds ADT on Jun 20, 2017
Recently, ADT has been in the news for a $16 million settlement for a cyber security vulnerability class action suit. One of the most important...
Resolver / PPM 2000 Incident Management Platform Profile on Jun 20, 2017
You might have seen the company whose employees wear hockey jerseys at trade shows and wondered "what do they do?" PPM 2000 has been active in...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact