I get way too many PR pitches where I am offered to talk to an exec of a vendor or one of its partner firms. When I ask instead to speak to some customers the answer is some variation of “they are not willing to go public”. Not sure about other market analysts, but for me that is a conversation killer.
Five years ago, I was less emphatic. But in three books since I have written over 50 long case studies and over 200 short ones. Customers have opened up and told me stuff where I have sometimes had to stop and ask “You sure you want to go public with that?” And they discuss proprietary, strategic advantage technologies not just experiences with back office functionality.
I am also seeing much more vendor openness to allow conversations with customers. Last week, Plex Systems invited executives from Inteva to present to a few analysts. Beyond the presentation they stayed around for lunch and dinner and were available to comment on just about any topic with remarkable candor. In a previous meeting, Plex provided similar access to other customers like Caterpillar and Jeni’s Icecream.
At the Industry Connect event couple of weeks ago, Oracle invited me to join customers on a panel. There was plenty of interaction time before and after. And I went to industry breakouts where customers were openly discussing industry challenges as in the world of retail omni-channel.
Workday is confident enough to invite prospects to its customer events. Not only do they trust their customers to say appropriate things, they allow analysts to field questions like “How would you compare Workday to Vendor X and Y?”
I told someone recently the world has changed dramatically. At Gartner, 15 years ago, it was tough to get customers to talk. These days consumer tech companies like Apple and Amazon are the toughest ones to get on the record. Customers are far more willing to share their experiences. Let them do so.