August 6, 2008

I’m not the only one who thinks vendors underdisclose

Here’s a real-life example of something I talk about all the time — the need to not just tell a story, but to give simple and persuasive reasons why it is true. David Raab is a huge fan of QlikTech’s QlikView, as both a reseller and blogger. Precisely because he is such a great advocate, he is frustrated by the company’s lack of technical specificity and disclosure. To wit (emphasis mine):

QlikTech … has … adopted “seeing is believing” as their strategy: rather than try to convince people how good they are, they show them with Webinars, pre-built demonstrations, detailed tutorials, documentation, and, most important, a fully-functional trial version. What they barely do is discuss the technology itself.

This is an effective strategy with early adopters, who like to get their hands dirty and are seeking a “game changing” improvement in capabilities. But while it creates evangelists, it doesn’t give them anything beyond than own personal experience to testify to the product’s value. So most QlikTech users find themselves making exactly the sort of generic claims about speed and ease of use that are so easily discounted by those unfamiliar with the product. If the individual making the claims has personal credibility, or better still independent decision-making authority, this is good enough to sell the product. But if QlikTech is competing against other solutions that are better known and perhaps more compatible with existing staff skills, a single enthusiastic advocate may not win out—even though they happen to be backed by the truth.

What they need is a story: a convincing explanation of WHY QlikTech is better. Maybe this is only important for certain types of decision-makers—call them skeptics or analytical or rationalists or whatever. But this is a pretty common sort of person in IT departments. Some of them are almost physically uncomfortable with the raving enthusiasm that QlikView can produce.

And in what was basically a highly favorable write-up of QlikTech/QlikView, I grew so frustrated as to finally say in the comment thread:

Thank you for admitting that clearly!!! It wastes a fair amount of analysts’ time when your company pretends otherwise.

Obviously, QlikTech is doing fine to date. Even so, this secrecy — which verges on deception — is hurting them, and is apt to do so at an increasing rate unless they get over it soon.


2 Responses to “I’m not the only one who thinks vendors underdisclose”

  1. Cindy on August 7th, 2008 2:38 pm

    Deception? Really, stop throwing a fit because you can’t get your way with QlikView’s intellectual property.

    Gartner Group has no issue with QlikTech along the lines of your imagined “deception”, nor IDC, nor Aberdeen, nor any of the other analysts folks normally follow.

    I hadn’t heard of you until I saw your blog posting show up in Google, and now I think I know why. Windmill tilting really doesn’t have a place in the technology world.

  2. Curt Monash on August 10th, 2008 7:12 pm

    Hi Cindy,

    I’m having trouble figuring out whether you’re serious or just trolling. I was guessing “serious” until I noticed you’d cited Aberdeen as an example of responsible research. As you surely know unless you’re VERY new to the IT world, Aberdeen is the poster child for analyst firms that regurgitate vendor marketing materials, without doing significant analysis of their own. They’ve tried to shed that reputation recently, but fairly or otherwise, it’s stuck …

    As for my own work, and Gartner’s — have you been around long enough to recall Sybase System 10? In the reporting at the time, all that was crystal-clear was that Gartner and I had jointly broken the story, and that I had been first. But Tony Percy of Gartner did later admit that their research had been accelerated by the fact of my publishing. A LOT of enterprises were saved from very bad technology investments by that analysis. And while some of the evidence came straight from the user community, most of it came from straightforward vendor interviews and critical analysis of same.

    It’s a good thing that there are multiple approaches to analysis. If there only were a couple, companies would almost surely game them more successfully than they already do, deliberately or otherwise. As matters stand, we take a number of different angles on the same issues, which serves to, in effect, let us check each other’s work.

    If you don’t want to read my work, fine. That will just save me from any further annoying and ill-informed comments you might make. But as to your general point on whether analysts should carefully question vendors’ claims — of course they should, and you’re doing nobody a service to suggest otherwise.


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