A decade ago, I wrote this post which talked about the thousand points of influence in every technology decision. My goal was to highlight attention on the fact that most vendor AR, back then, was fixated on Gartner magic quadrants and Forrester waves whereas there were plenty of bloggers who influenced deals. AR folks were even less familiar with boutique firms like Strativa in vendor evaluations and Net(net) in vendor contract negotiations.
I had heard an ambassador say that after the Soviet Union broke up, his peers had a tough time adjusting to the fragmented E. European landscape. Something similar had happened to technology analysis.
That has gradually changed. The Enterprise Irregulars did not exist back then. Irregulars is an improper moniker today for this group. There are not too many enterprise vendors they do not follow regularly. Names like Diginomica, Constellation, Deal Architect are much more recognized than they were a decade ago. Most vendors have caught on to the blogger and social media phenomenon.
Except that they have not. Many measure bloggers on number of tweets from their events as a proxy for influence. In reality few enterprise buyers are on Twitter. Also social media has led to a plethora of “pop analysts”. Many work for vendors and could not spell independence if you spotted them the c,d and n’s. Others have so much politics in their streams that you wonder if they are rehearsing to become political commentators for Fox or CNN or covering technology. Few have written a 20 page paper in years, much less a detailed report or book where they interviewed hundreds of customers. Few consult with or even talk to buy side executives and practitioners on a regular basis and have little fact-based realism in their work. But they sure can brag about the followers they have on Quora and Instagram.
And you also see how other parts of the vendor organization often still lives in the past. Example – procurement groups which sometimes mistake independent analyst or boutique consulting firm to mean independent contractor and cause tons more paperwork for all parties.
There have been so many other changes in the last decade. My New Florence blog, not lacking for sources of innovation for its 4-500 entries a year, regularly mines magazines which were long ago supposed to be dead. My six books have cataloged hundreds of technology vendors and innovative customers that do not show on Magic Quadrants. My advisory work has changed dramatically – much more about cloud economics, ring-fencing legacy applications, automation of processes and digital transformations.
It’s not just AR groups and procurement. Competitive Intelligence groups have not evolved. The reality is IT vendors are now just a small part of the technology landscape. I know companies which spend way more on design firms like Ideo and contract manufacturers like Foxconn than they do on IT strategy and outsourcing firms. Their VP of Products has more of a technology budget for making products smarter than does the CIO. Ditto with the Chief Marketing Officer.
Thousand points of influence? I was off by a factor of at least 10 a decade ago. Which actually leads me to empathize with vendor marketers who have to navigate this complex landscape. The world is way more complex than 4×4 graphs and tweets.
(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)