• Sahil Khanna

Eliminating the Marketing Noise for Enterprise Tech Buyers

Updated: Aug 5, 2019

The most easily accessible information is rarely the best information.

I often start my mornings by making some coffee and checking out what’s happening in the world via mediums like the WSJ, BBC, YahooFinance, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Maybe it’s not the healthiest morning routine, but I know I’m not alone. I also know I’m not alone when I say I have a hard time believing everything I read, even though a majority of my feeds are self-curated. Even when I speak directly with someone about a subject they know quite a lot about, I’ve learned to take their words with a grain of salt when they have a vested interest in that subject.

In the world of Enterprise Software, vested interests are inescapable. Available information is written or influenced by professionals rewarded for the product’s success, and customers who participate in reviews and reference checks are typically hand-picked; we’ll get to that shortly.

Even if you’re not searching for information, you can surely relate to marketing emails, invites, and targeted advertising if you have even a 2nd-degree connection to an IT decision-maker. Someone once described the experience to me as similar to attending a year-round virtual RSA conference, but without the after-parties...

Marketing collateral helps generate product awareness, but buyers still need to conduct substantial research and build business cases to justify decisions. Product due diligence is the art of understanding what a product actually does, how it’s different, and if it’s right for your organization. The process is designed to mitigate risk but is both expensive and time-consuming. Leadership and technical resources get pulled away from core projects to attend product demos and conduct months-long evaluations. But more importantly, due diligence is often ineffective, failing to surface details that appear months or years down the road as surprises that impact the success of the business.

This doesn’t mean that preliminary research and POC’s aren’t crucial. Rather, they are heavy-lifts and only take you so far in mitigating risk.

This leaves us wondering, why so much noise and how do we get past it?

The Proliferation of Vendors + Large Marketing Budgets = Noise

As an individual consumer, I love how B2C products compete for my business. I just checked my phone and found 30 different services that I actively engage with today. They’re easy to test, purchase, and delete. But my convenience as a consumer means that the businesses building and supporting these digital services are under constant pressure. They have no choice but to rapidly build new features and increase their speed-of-delivery while maintaining excellent customer experiences and protecting everyone’s private data.

These increasingly burning challenges for enterprises, combined with the growth in Venture Capital & Private Equity funds that want to seize the opportunity, have led to the explosion of software startups focused on hot areas like Data Management, Cyber Security, DevOps, IoT, and more.

For each niche technology sub-category today, there are easily 20+ seemingly viable options to choose from. Competing vendors inevitably gravitate toward similar language to describe the technology and benefits by observing what works for others. Some vendor’s claims are authentic; many are not. Today’s most fashionable language worn by vendors includes AI/ML for [X], Continuous [X] Monitoring, [X] as a Service, and of course, Real-Time [X]. Even Documentation and Release Notes now incorporate flavors of marketing.

More competition among technology vendors means better customer outcomes. However, searching for the right solution is like walking down the toothpaste aisle. While a product with more vision than substance can succeed through well-funded and well-executed Go-to-Market initiatives, a superior product may not make the short-list (or analyst reports), possibly because of a weak or failed Go-to-Market.

Agility, Cost, and Success

Marketing ≠ Reality for many new technologies. Vendors in crowded spaces know this too well and struggle to break through the noise.

Online reviews are valuable for restaurants, work-culture, and consumer technology but ineffective for enterprise software for reasons including:

  1. Most review sites are sponsored by vendors

  2. Most reviews are a result of a vendor initiating the ask with their customers/users

  3. Most reviews focus on the positives because no customer wants to leave negative feedback and be held accountable

  4. Reviews are based on the individual’s set of circumstances and use cases; every customer is different

  5. Reviews are easy to game

Unfortunately for customers, the process of testing, purchasing, and replacing these products typically isn’t so simple. Even considering the latest solutions built with lightweight architectures that can be downloaded and tested in minutes, what happens when you deploy them across large, mission-critical environments?

Risk comes down to adopting a product or partnering with a vendor that doesn’t do what someone said it could do. To mitigate risk, IT leaders pull together core teams to construct each evaluation and incorporate the most critical use cases, relevant data samples and volume, user-interaction, and meaningful time-frames with checkpoints throughout the journey. Despite the dedicated time and effort, there’s no guarantee that the results will perfectly reflect what happens when you move into a production environment and introduce all kinds of unknowns. A small oversight can have major consequences on the business.

I recently spoke with A CIO at a financial services company. He told me that 75% of their IT initiatives fail by either 1) Exceeding Budget 2) Exceeding Time-to-Deliver, 3) Lacking Target Functionality, or some combination of the three. He explained that there are inevitable ‘surprises’ with the product (or delivery) that they weren’t able to test for. According to him, this level of failure is common within his network of peers.

Finding Credible Information on Emerging Technologies

We all want credible information. We want it fast. We even want exclusivity to give us a competitive edge.

So why can’t we speak directly with experts who have been through the same journeys and know how they would do it differently if they could do it again?

Analysts continue to be the best informed people on broad trends and technologies, but lack real practitioner’s experience, limiting the types of exchanges they have with clients. Executive networks are powerful but limited. Surveys and online reviews are plentiful, but can’t guarantee expertise nor speak to your unique situation in-depth.

At Sagetap, we believe that the most credible information on emerging technologies and trends comes from people who live and breath these technologies every day. This is why we work with highly-vetted practitioners across Fortune 1000 companies who are capable of understanding your unique situation and guiding you in the right direction.

Our practitioners have researched, evaluated, purchased, deployed, and currently use the technologies of interest every day; or are leaders of strategic initiatives supported by these technologies. Not only can they speak to product functionality, best practices, and lessons learned, but they are also unbiased and have no incentive to promote or demote any solution.

Today, leaders are leveraging Sagetap to exchange knowledge with highly-relevant professionals (On-Demand) to reduce unknowns, increase agility, and make better business decisions.

Interested to see how we work? Get started at info@sagetap.io


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