By Karen Lopez
During the recent webinar “Who’s Analyzing the Analysis?” Stephan Foskett, Chris Evans and I discussed how analysts’ reports such as the Gartner Quadrant and Forrester Wave are put together and commonly used.
In this post, I’m expanding on this discussion with three more times you’ll want to go to these types of analyses.
Analyst reports on a specific product or services sector are released on a regular basis, usually yearly. Why not more often? First, analysts must review and revise their criteria and measurement methods to ensure they are still current with where the industry is and may be headed. The analysis typically involves talking to vendor teams, customers, independent consultants, then re-interviewing to confirm what everyone has told the analyst team. All this takes time to do correctly and with confidence.
1. Leverage analysis when the reports are released
All that work in preparing them means they are the most applicable to the current market when they are published, so you’ll want to check them out as they hit the street. You’ll be tempted to head right to the main diagram, be it a quadrant, a wave, or a list. Go ahead and do that, but don’t stop there. In order to understand the picture that means 10,000 words, you’ll need to read the full report. This will tell you if methods have changed since previous reports (they do), why certain solutions were included or excluded and details of how all those data points came together to position solutions in a specific spot.
You’ll also want to understand these concepts because reports differ across analyst firms. They don’t all measure the same things and their core diagrams have different axes, so solutions will likely rank differently compared to their competitors. If you know the details, you can show your expertise in meetings when someone mentions just the diagram.
2. Leverage analysis when you are thinking of changing solutions
The most common time for organizations to reach for a report is when they are thinking of replacing their current solutions. But in my experience, organizations leverage these reports too late in the process, usually around technical evaluation time. You’ll want to understand the solution environment much earlier than that, normally around, “Hey, doesn’t product X do what our current product does, but better” time. The reports will help answer that question, plus provide input to your initial scope of evaluation. Which solutions should you include in your RFI/RFP? Which ones likely aren’t a good enough match to your needs right now? Which solutions have rocketed from “interesting” to “must take a look at?”
The report, not just the diagram, will help you focus your time and resources on the solutions that best fit your needs. Saving time and money means you’ll look great to your boss, too.
3. Leverage analysis when your current products are questioned
This is my favorite use. We’ve all been there. A new employee or consultant comes in and makes some grandiose statement that “no one uses this product,” “but competitor ABC uses this other product,” “but we can get product Z for only $500,” or “product Y is the newest, coolest stuff I’ve seen.” Maybe it’s budget time and management has asks, “Why are we spending all this money on solution X?”
Yes, these things get said, but often with no details about why or if those statements have relevance to your organization. I tell my teams, “Bring me data.” Analyst reports are data-backed analyses that can help you form a more knowledgeable response. Just make sure you have the details.
Getting the information
So how do you get those details? First, it’s likely your organization already has subscriptions to these reports. If they don’t, many vendors license and provide the reports for distribution to those who want to see where they place in the market.
Analyst reports aren’t the end to your solutions decisions, but they pack a lot of analysis value into a report that you can use more than at technical evaluation time. Go forth with data and analyses.