For years and years, the importance of IT vendors being compared to their peer group and in the same box or grid - or ideally in a higher or adjacement one - has driven product teams and marketing departments. The question that needs to be asked is whether - in the 2020s, where unique and different are now on-trend - this model is still as relevant. We argue that perhaps things need to change and that IT vendors should now look to stand out from the crowd and be different to their peer group.
Peer Group Analysis does a job. There is no doubt about that. It enables potential consumers to quickly ascertain who are the main players in a particular IT sector and who are the 'also rans'. It narrows the field, enables decision making processes to be accelerated but invariably leads to the usual suspects taking the all important sale. From an IT vendor's perspective, the 'only' thing that they need do is to ensure that they work as hard as they possibly can to be in that exclusive leadership group. Simple. Get into that box or that segment and sales accelerate and the world is a better place.
The difficult part is that once on those reports - and once compared and contrasted to perhaps another ten or fifteen other vendors, that's it until the next report. Despite all the market changes and all the relevant product improvements, the market perceives that they are locked down and in the same relative placement for months and months. Furthermore, the reports often give a paragraph to each vendor - highlighting a very focused amount of data and this can make the job of differentiation all the more difficult.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is the rigid models placed upon vendors in order to enter a specific market comparison. Being new and unique isn't necessarily a good thing. Being focused on a particular market or being relevant to a new trend is not going to lead to a successful outcome. The vendor or the product offered by the vendor has to conform to the expectations of the overall market comparison - either be good at everything and tick all the available boxes or the vendor becomes an outlier.
As we enter this new decade there is no more fitting word than differentiation. Uniqueness is celebrated. It has never been more important to be different from your peer group, to stand out and to stake a claim. This is the same for individuals as it is for IT vendors. Customers are looking for reasons to purchase - what your product can do, what makes your business tick, why your team are the best. They are looking for a reason to back the underdog, to take a chance on the new vendor because their product is something that can differentiate the customer in their given market. So with this new focus, now is the time to really shout from the roof tops about how you are different and why someone should come and buy your product rather than from one of the competitors within your peer group.
At Viewpoint Analysis our whole ethos is about differentiating the IT vendors that we work with. We want to make sure that each and every vendor has a place where we can examine what makes them who they are. What makes them different and unique - and why a potential customer should look to them for the next purchase. Our reports - whether they are our 'Vendor Viewpoint' (where we focus on the company), 'Product Viewpoint' (where we focus upon the product or service) or 'One to Watch' (where we focus on start-ups and scale-ups) are all about singling out, delving into and celebrating the differences.
So - ask yourself - as an IT vendor do you want to be part of the group, be one of the peers? Or do you want to be you? - do you want to be different and do you want your customers to know why choosing your product or service will allow them to be different?