“All of the APM vendors sound the same.”
“Your competitor claims to offer all of the same features you just mentioned.”
“How do I know what you are selling is really special?”
If you an IT professional researching APM solutions, you've probably said these words yourself. And it's no surprise – the APM market is a highly competitive market with a full 27 vendors included in the latest Gartner APM magic quadrant report.
In my experience working for two leading APM vendors in the market, I've spoken with a lot of people from IT that find it difficult to differentiate among the plethora of APM vendors. They tell me they can't put 100% trust in the white papers, presentations, and case studies they read because they all say that the product can do everything for everyone. And so they can't really understand which vendors are best suited to their particular needs and use cases.
What IT managers really want is:
- Unbiased information from real users (not just the “showcase customers”)
- Direct access to others who have already gone through the selection process
- An easy way to create a vendor short list
After years of hearing this need, I recently founded a B2B social networking site for IT professionals to enable them to research and share information about application performance management and other enterprise IT products and services.
Online user reviews have completely changed the way we make buying decisions as consumers. We now use ratings and review sites to see what other real users think before we buy electronics, book a hotel, visit a doctor or choose a restaurant.
We've decided to take the success of B2C social networking and review sites and apply them to the market for APM and other enterprise IT products - meaning to provide IT professionals with a community platform to share reviews and connect with each other to make the best buying decision.
However, a review site for IT products has different requirements than a review site for consumer products – for instance, we've found that IT professionals would like to post their reviews anonymously so that their identity is not revealed. They also want a way to contact other reviewers using private messaging in order to enable direct access between real users from different companies.
The New APM Buying Process
The buying process for enterprise IT products has changed dramatically, with technology buyers doing much more research about products over the web, and creating a vendor short list, before they even start talking to vendors.
According to Forrester Research, “Tech buyers are using web and community resources to complete nearly 70% of their buying journey before they ever engage with a sales resource.” (Source: Forrester report “Catching Up To Tech Customer Communities” October 2011). The most valuable online resource for IT buyers is access to the experience and opinions of other real users in order to get unbiased, relevant information.
However, the concept of a product review site for enterprise products and raises some important questions:
How does the site assure that the reviews are authentic?
Do user reviews accurately reflect judgments by professional experts?
If you work in IT and are evaluating APM solutions, the value of a site with APM reviews is obvious, including an easy way to create a vendor short list, unbiased information from real users, and direct access to others who have already gone through the selection process.
If you are already a user of an APM solution, you can use a review site to speak out freely in a private and anonymous environment. You can evangelize products, provide suggestions for improvements, share war stories, or show your thought leadership, all while preserving your privacy since no personally identifiable information is made public.
IT Central Station was recently launched as a private beta at www.itcentralstation.com. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts about the site and how you would like to get involved.
Click here to contact Russell Rothstein
ABOUT Russell Rothstein
Russell Rothstein is founder and CEO of IT Central Station. Previously he was VP Product Marketing at OpTier and AVP Product Marketing at OPNET Technologies. He has also written several articles and blogs on APMdigest.
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