This Is What We Have To Endure Every Week

Analysts suffer get the benefit of dozens of briefings per year from hopeful vendors trying to convince us that they are the next big thing. Here’s a typical example of marketing-speak messaging that is an amalgam of all the mistakes that will ensure a vendor goes on our "not with a barge pole" list.

“Exvezium[1] is a leading provider[2] of Purchasing and Supply Optimization (PSO)[3] solutions, focused on the automotive, retail, financial services, and government sectors[4]. Customers such as Mutt Publishing, Shania Entertainment[5], and the Steiner Wig Corporation[6] have chosen Exvezium for its very unique[7] requisition automation, online tendering and award optimization capabilities[8]. Leading analyst firm Milometer[9] classed Exvezium as a Strong Challenger in its Sourcery Square 2009 evaluation.

"The four best practices[10] for implementing PSO are getting executive buy-in, choosing a configurable solution, supporting constraint-based awarding, and maximizing event activity," said CEO, President and Founder[11] Mark Ettingbabble. "Exvezium supports these through our combination of cutting-edge technology and best-in-class services[12]."

What’s wrong with this? Here are my dirty dozen analyst pet hates:

[1] Brand recognition is important, so why do start-ups seem to choose a name more for its score in Scrabble than its memorability?

[2] Leading in what sense? Many of the companies that claim to be leading aren’t even in the top 20, either on the basis of size or functionality.

[3] Don’t invent your own product category. It confuses us and puts customers off. You have to waste too much time explaining to prospects what your TLA means, rather than how you can help them solve their business problems.

[4] You can’t focus on lots of verticals, unless you are big enough to have separate divisions that do that. If you’re horizontal across many industries, admit it.

[5] So you’ve got customers, that don’t impress me much. Unless they are large companies who are well known for making good IT decisions . . .

[6] . . . unlike this (hopefully fictional) Fortune 100 company that is diverse, federated, and with weak IT leadership, so that every vendor in the world can claim it as a customer somewhere. 

[7] You’re either unique or you’re not, you can’t qualify it with fairly or very. And don’t claim capabilities are unique when they clearly aren’t.

[8] Explain what business benefits you bring, not what features you have.

[9] Please don’t highlight the competition. I know they're out there, I just don't want it rammed in my face.  And Strong Challenger in the 'sourcery square' (geddit?) merely means you answered their RFI and persuaded Mutt and Shania to give you some reasonable references.

[10] If you had read my report on the subject, you’d know there are three best practices, not four, and these aren’t them. I've analyzed the subject and decided there are three, so don’t try to convince me that there are four. And next time, read my reports before you talk with me.

[11] Are these titles supposed to impress me? Maybe you’re going to be huge, but right now you’re the Blessed Leader of 30 employees. And if the VC company says "Jump," you jump.

[12] "Best" in whose opinion? I’ll judge whether you’re best-in-class, thank you.

Anyone like to add some more Annoying Marketing Babble of their own?


Cutting edge?

Is this similar to "bleeding edge" - as in "likely to break or not integrate very easily?"

"CEO, President and Founder" is a lot like "Dr. John Smith, M.D." - too many descriptors. Just give me the one that is meaningful in this context.

Value creation

As a CIO for a large multinational company, (that's my babble !) I often get talked by youngsters that their products will a higher ROI than that of competitors due t o a very low TCO.

This is also due to risk-free pulg-and-play integration capabilities. (never mind what my current IT landscape is !)

Plug & play integration

Good one, Stephane. I bet it was 'seamless' as well. I dont think you'll ever find 'integration' on a vendor website that isnt preceded by the word 'seamless'. I don't know for sure, but I'm confident that I could detect a seam somewhere, like maybe that queue of flat files that failed the ETL routine.

If you're a pre-sales consultant, then any integration that you need to actually demonstrate is called 'plug-and-pray'.

Vendor emails

I think I received this same pitch in my email inbox ;-)

Footnote 13 -- send to the right analyst.

No competition?

I hate it when I ask companies who they consider to be their leading competitors, and they tell me they don't have any competitors. Either they honestly don't know their market well enough to know who the competition is, or their market is so unattractive that nobody else wants to go after it. Either way, this sort of response discredits everything else I am told. Good companies know who their competitors are, have respect for them, and are able to clearly articulate how they distinguish their own offerings.

And yes, it is very annoying when vendors tell me they got a high ranking from XYZ analyst firm.

Glass houses

Anyone want to venture a guess where these gems came from (hint, I bet Duncan knows....)

Most leading products are available via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model,
so companies can upgrade to a better product with little upfront investment.

Emptoris continues to be at the leading edge of innovation in eSourcing.

Oracle Sourcing is a leading eSourcing product.

BravoSolution delivers a leading fully managed eSourcing service.

Zycus is an exciting recent entrant to the eSourcing market.

Touche, but you can have more than one leader

I don't claim to be an expert creator of marketing content, but in this case I dont see any problem with the selected quotes. Its not the word 'leading' that annoys me, its the inappropriate claims by those who aren't even in the top ten, either in terms of size or functionality. Forrester's Waves often have more than one product in the Leader sector, so we say 'a leader' rather than 'the leader'.

Its also OK to qualify the target market in which you believe you lead. I probably wouldn't object to "The leading eSourcing vendor for Ornithological Suppliers" because it helps me put you in the right pigeon-hole, so to speak. I can recommend you to my Avian clients, but not suggest you for shortlists where you aren't a good fit for the client's needs. Along the same lines, SAP's eSourcing solution could be the best choice for SAP shops without being a leader in its own right - that's why clients are encourage to customize the Forrester Wave weights to match their priorities.

Thank you very much for the

Thank you very much for the post. I enjoyed it.
And its quite informative too. Anyway,
all posts in forrester are definitely attractive,
informative and marvellous!