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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall….. Who is the Fairest of Them All?

During the summer, I got a string of emails from various ‘publications’ telling me ComTech had been selected as the best analyst firm in the industry and that if I would just pay $10,000, we would be awarded the title along with full coverage in the ‘magazine’ and an award. I ignored them. Awards are given not bought.

It reminded me that ComTech does not get involved in award giving despite us being asked over and over again to do something like that. I even had a long conversation with a colleague in the industry about the idea of awards and being considered the best CTRM vendor or analyst or whatever, and why this was something people believed and even seemed to want to see. His view, and I agree with it, is that people want their decisions made easy and if someone else tells them who is the best, that makes life much easier. As he said, “when I’m looking for a movie or a CD or something, I go looking for other people’s recommendations too.”

Awards, if done properly are a lot of fun. Energy Risk and the old Commodities Now awards were/are fun. Nothing better than a posh black tie dinner, bit of entertainment and so on to see a company’s efforts rewarded with some recognition.  Why not? But there are a lot of awards out there that are just a special edition of a magazine with paid advertisements pretending to be awards as well. So buyer beware! Then there are assessments done by consulting firms and so on. Well, these are not done for nothing. They are probably done at least partially to promote the consulting firm in the CTRM software implementation market but, there is some value add in these reports in terms of good information.

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Buyers are always looking for help. Always looking for the best or the better known brand. You know the old adage? “You can’t go wrong selecting XXX. They are everywhere and everyone knows them!” Well, unfortunately, you can and if that the basis of your selection then you probably will go wrong – and big time. One of the trends we saw in this year’s Vendor Perception Study was that this buying criteria is now bottom (and by a long way) of all buying criteria that we tested. And rightly so.

The fact is that all of these products where someone decides who is the best – based on their own reasons – are essentially providing buyers with a sort of mirror where they can ask that question. “Who is the fairest of them all?” The problem is, that isn’t the question you should be asking is it? The question you should be asking is this – “Who is the fairest of them all for OUR BUSINESS.” There is only one way to answer that question and it is by doing things the hard way. A requirements definition followed by an exhaustive scan of the market. Perhaps followed by an RFI/RFP or perhaps demonstrations and proof of concept. This is the only way to arrive at the right answer.

Our approach as analysts has always been to avoid naming winners or the best. That depends on what the requirements are. What we try to do is help you find all the possible solutions via this site’s directory, the Sourcebook and by doing things like the Vendor Perception Study. Even if you hire us to help, we will only do a rapid market scan designed to ensure you consider all possibles and arrive at a shorter list to move forward with. We do not do vendor selection.

At the end of the day the moral of this fairy tale is this. Do not give away your responsibility to select the best solution fit for your company by accepting someone else’s view. You have no idea as to how and why they arrived at their conclusion and if you did, you might be very disillusioned.  You have to do the hard work yourself to arrive at the answer that is right for you. There are still over 100 CTRM products on the market despite the M&A activity in recent times – one of them might be the perfect solution for you.