Last week I was with posed a question for the nth time – probably the 50th time since launching Greyhound Research 3 years ago – and it prompted me to formally pen down my thoughts. This question is not new for me and I sort of expect it with those who are yet to get acquainted with our ethos:
“Like your peers, why don’t you not have reports that benchmark vendors?”
For nearly 3 years I’ve avoided writing about this topic (for various reasons) but I finally decided to give in. To share with you a background, this time around the question was posed to me by a prospective buy-side client – a well-known CIO of a Fortune 500 company. Clearly someone who is well exposed to the analyst fraternity and the value we bring to the table. So, instead of directly answering his question, I took the liberty of asking him a question:
“Would you base your decisions amounting to millions of dollars’ on the back of such reports alone?”
The answer was neither a Yes, nor a No. It was silence…and a gaze that told me that the man on the other side of the table had been posed with a very pertinent question.
Having served in my role as an analyst for two of the best known brands in the fraternity, I’ve always questioned the rationale for analyst firms to undertake vendor benchmarking exercises. These exercises that are treated much like a religious ritual by both sides, the analyst firm and technology vendor, typically culminate in a diktat from the analyst firm. It’s perceived that this diktat will be treated as a holy grail by IT Decision Makers. Not to say there is no value that comes out of such exercises, but how far they are relevant and useful for specific organisational situations remains unclear.
Whether or not IT Decision Makers, particularly CIOs, accept this diktat as their gospel of truth has been a topic of heated debate in multiple forums. But this ritual does guarantee one sure shot outcome – a resounding acceptance (read spend of marketing budgets to announce results) by technology vendors who are rated highly. Of course, the other vendors who are either rated poorly or not included at all either choose to invest more (time and money) to be accepted by the almighty analyst or totally shun the route and take to vehemently criticising the role and value of analyst firms.
In either of the outcomes, this entire exercise at best serves the purpose of acting as an extension of the technology vendors marketing efforts. It’s only a handful that truly deep-dive in the suggested outcomes of the diktat to gather actionable insights for their purpose. Hence my suggestion that most such exercises act as an extended arm of the technology vendors marketing teams and collaterals.
While founding Greyhound Research, I was firm on my belief of building an organisation that truly stands out for its insights. Unbiased outcomes that act as true insights for IT Decision Makers (and others in the technology ecosystem) and not act as an extended arm of the technology vendor marketing teams. To actualise this belief, we have kept away from co-branded research papers and vendor benchmarking exercises. Instead, we are focusing our energies on independently-authored research notes and benchmarking toolkits that help IT Decision Makers with insights that truly make a difference to their organisation and projects.
Have we been successful at what we do? I would like to believe so – or let me say, the numbers and sufficient anecdotal evidence definitely points me in that direction. Please read on.
With a dedicated focus on Enterprise Technology and IT Decision Makers, late last year we launched our official Enterprise Technology Insights Portal, EnterpriseInsightsPivot.com. Worthy to note that our regular base of global readers on this portal has crossed well past 100,000.
Separately, our efforts to encourage knowledge sharing via our exclusive, invite-only community, Greyhound Golden Gate has been very well received. As of date, the community has enrolled over 1000 CxOs from across the globe who participate in our on-going research studies and closed-door discussions/workshops. In the same spirit, we are championing two key initiatives. The first one is a knowledge sharing series called ONTrigger – as part of this campaign, we interview the movers and shakers of the technology world. Second is a campaign where we share key snippets of insights from some of our latest work – we call this Greyhound Standpoint. You may also search these campaigns on Twitter using hashtags, #ONTrigger and #GreyhoundStandpoint.
Over and beyond, in the previous calendar year we wrote 1000+ pieces of insights (research notes, media enquiries et al) that were read from over 125 countries, answered 5000+ IT Decision Maker enquiries from across the globe, spoke at over 100+ CxO conferences (with an average attendance per conference of 250 IT Decision Makers & Influencers) and conducted over 150+ closed-door discussions/workshops (with an average attendance of 8-10 IT Decision Makers).
On the Consumer Technology front, we’ve been quietly strengthening our research on back of our Consumer Technology Insights Portal, ConsumerInsightsPivot.com. This is an extension of the acquisition we made last year of a company called Internet Of Style. Our Consumer Technology content attracts over 1 million readers (on an annualised basis) across all Greyhound networks.
Overall, our marketing statistics from the past calendar year tell us that across all Greyhound Networks we received over 1 million+ Google impressions and an additional 1 million+ Twitter impressions.
Last but not the least, don’t take our word for it. Read what the technology community has to say about us!
As it’s expected of nonconformists – to be open and honest – we at Greyhound Research are passionately conforming to this rule. Cheers to those who support our efforts to stay independent and work with us for the right reasons! A BIG Thank You! 🙂
Thanks for this write-up Sanchit and congratulations to Greyhound for continuously innovating and enhancing the value that analyst firms can bring to clients like us.
Thank you Vibha for your very kind words. Glad you find value in our work.
Nicely put 🙂
Glad you appreciate the thoughts Varun. Cannot thank you enough for all your support till date 🙂
Very well written Sanchit. Makes absolute sense!
Thanks Aman! Appreciate your comments. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to be associated with IT leaders like yourself!
Thank you for this piece Sanchit with critical insight into an issue that is frequently under discussion on the business side with limited resolution really. Great to see Greyhound evolve to address a gap in business insight. Keep at it!
Thank you Seema. Glad you appreciate our efforts. 🙂
Well put Sanchit.
Yes, a general parameters based benchmarking report is just that – a general one. And, the value of such a benchmark, even assuming it is 100% objective and free of perception driven judgements, is limited in the sense that Enterprise IT decision makers have very unique situation and context. To make the matters complicated, the technology landscape is changing so fast that the basis for bucketing of these technologies and vendors itself demands explanation – with no answer – making these benchmarks even more irrelevant on the ground. The decision makers that really need specific help often grapple with such factors wishing they didn’t have to.
I also agree to the argument that the such reports end up being reflective of the marketing efforts a lot – even as ‘extended marketing arm’ sounds a little too extreme, the perception borders on real.
It’s encouraging to see your stance on co-branded material and benchmarking reports, having been in such discussions with you through time from the time of foundation. Credibility is core to an analyst / analyst firm and your consistent focus on value and ethos through these few years is really appreciable. Hard, but not impossible, we can only expect more…!
Great comments there, Ashish. Thanks for chiming in. In today’s times, it’s all about being relevant and adding value. Hence our strong belief in independent research. And of course, you’ve heard my belief on this topic up and close during your time with us. Thanks again Ashish for believing in Greyhound!
Nicely put across a rather hot and debated topic of the reliance on analyst reports to make decisions. While its hard not to refer this on the buyer side or invest time and money on the vendor side, sometime get a feeling its like a report card with ranks , where someone gets to be 1st rank holder, while others who are equally good are not there due to various reason, or few others who do not even make it.
But guess its been a tool given the rapid evolution of tech changes and the decision makers do not have time to do their own extensive research and rely on experts.
Very impressed to Greyhounds approach on this and given you have survived and grown in 3 years speaks great about it. I will certainly check out your portals as they seem to be very interesting.
All the very best, proud to see a “Make in India” analyst and research firm making it big and doing it different !!!
Hi Muthu, firstly, thank you for taking the time out to share your thoughts on this topic. It’s great to learn that seasoned IT professionals like yourself feel equally strong about the topic. Couldn’t agree more when you say vendor benchmarking reports are like report cards – but as well know, a better score in the report card does not always warrant a better journey ahead 🙂 Hence our decision to not go down this path at all.
Separately, thank you for your kind words about us and our approach. It’s humbling to know of your views about our work. And yes, that’s very well said – Make In India analyst firm 🙂 Made In India, For The World 😉
Thanks again Muthu.
Circa 2005 the CIO of a Global company told me of how frustrated he was by the vendor domination that he could hardly work around, despite having better options available. Around the same time he accepted invitations to a ‘customer meet’ by a large IT vendor. Sure it was possible that analysts hadn’t been invited to the event. But highly improbable. Do the math and see how this leads to the Stockholm syndrome “in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.”
Oh, and also remember the old, “Nobody got fired for buying an IBM”?
Super comment there Sunil. Glad we are not the only ones who feel like that. 🙂
Thanks for this great post Sanchit! I like the way #Greyhound is differentiating it self from the pack of analyst / advisory firms by taking a #TrueNorth approach (similar to what Bain & Co. did to differentiate against McKinsey and others). The science behind why humans take decisions is more complex than what we marketers try to justify by using multi-channel attribution i.e. most people (whether it’s a 1 Mn US$ chewing gum or a 100 Mn US$ IT deal)take decisions emotionally and justify the decisions taken rationally. Hence once the decisions have been taken tools like IT bench-marking reports, vendor quadrants / waves, peer referrals, community feedback, prior experience etc come into play.
Thanks for stopping by Apurva. Really enjoyed reading your comments. Feel humbled to learn that you appreciate our approach and ethos.
Couldn’t agree more with your comments on human side of decision making. As an organisation our appeal to our friends in the IT Decision Maker community is one and simple – use an approach which truly works for your organisation and projects. Vendor Benchmarking reports may be a decent starting point but don’t do justice to bespoke requirements of your projects.
You have hit the nail on the head . Bang on ! Unfortunately Some CIO’s use the ” traditional consultant” reports to take the decision they want and possibly not being entirely objective about it . Some good ” niche” vendors got left out in the process . Your unbiased and objective approach will ensure that you present all the facts and let them decide rather than the other way around . “Independence “and “objectivity ” are the hallmarks in this business and you are practicing it . Well done my dear friend SVG., truly glocal”. Taking india to the world . Proud of the work that you are doing and honoured to be associated ,
Thank you Chief! Very kind of you to believe in the approach we are taking. I am aware this is a difficult battle to fight, but surely not an impossible one. Wouldn’t be possible to make it to the other side without friends and well-wishers like you. Thanks again for all your support to date.