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Vendor Perceptions – ComTechAlert

The recently released 2014 CTRM Vendor Perception Study has been developed to provide insights into how the users, buying decision makers, and consultants that make-up the CTRM marketplace perceive the landscape of companies that produce and sell CTRM/ETRM products.

But, why is this important?

Vendors spend significant sums creating brands and trying to familiarize potential buyers with their products and capabilities; and via that process, work to establish a positive reputation in the market.  Buyers will use their familiarity and perceptions of those vendors when making decisions as to which vendors and products to include in a purchasing process.  Past research by ComTech indicates that buyers will initially use two sources of information when considering which system to purchase: 1) their personal knowledge and experiences of having previously worked with a vendor or software package, and 2) the knowledge, experiences and opinions of their peers in their industry.

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Potential buyers who limit their search to those companies that they or their peers know are seeing only a relatively small circle in the scheme of things. Depending on where a prospective buyer sits in the commodities market, there may be as many as 15 or 20 potential solutions that could meet their needs and many of those will be missed if one simply relies on friends or acquaintances to name them. Further, this method of identifying potential vendors simply reinforces the standing of the companies that have been the most successful over time.  It doesn’t allow room for smaller companies or start-ups to have an equal footing in the purchase decision process, potentially never getting an “at bat” as the market just doesn’t have the same history and familiarity with them as they do with the market leaders.

So, it’s important that buyers become familiar with all the potential vendors if they want to ensure they find the solution that best fits their needs.  However, it’s equally important that vendors help those market participants become familiar with them by investing in marketing and sales – establishing themselves in the minds of market participants as a company that should be considered for every opportunity that falls within the functional and geographic scope of their products.

With that being said, this research is intended to address a number of objectives. First, it does provide those who are contemplating purchasing a new system, the views of a wider peer group from which to get feedback.  Second, it provides vendors a measure – a report card if you will – to determine their success in establishing and/or maintaining market awareness and perceptions of leadership; or for the smaller and start-up companies, a gauge of how well they’ve done in establishing themselves as players to be considered in the mix.

When we look at the results of this year’s research, we do see that Allegro Development, OpenLink, SunGard and Triple Point are the most well known CTRM vendors globally. A second group of vendors can be viewed as challengers to these four, including Brady PLC, Murex and EKA along with some other geographically important or niche players like, for example, OATI in North America and Trayport Contigo in Europe. It pays to remember that brand recognition almost always lags and this shows in mentions of companies that are no longer in existence, such as SolArc.  However, the data does also reflect a recent and steep dive in Triple Point’s brand awareness and market leadership perceptions, a fairly dramatic result in a relative short period of time.

Market leadership perceptions also reveal that just a few vendors dominate globally. The market leaders across almost every category of commodity or functionality tested, from “Overall ETRM/CTRM” to “Cloud Delivery”, are almost all from this same group of OpenLink, Allegro, SunGard, Triple Point, Brady and EKA, with just one or two exceptions.

By virtue of the fact that ComTech Advisory’s predecessor organization – CommodityPoint – had performed a vendor perception study more or less annually for almost a decade, we also have a historical perspective on how brands have evolved, risen and fallen in tune to the cycles of commodity markets and issues. It makes for fascinating reading and analysis.

Beyond measuring familiarity and perceptions of leadership in specific categories of commodities, we have used this research opportunity to look at a number of other factors that influence perceptions of leadership and impact user experiences, including identifying what buyers look for when selecting a system, determining how satisfied users are with their current systems, and measuring just how many systems those users have installed to manage their business. The answers to these questions give us a snapshot of the maturity of the software category, how active it is, how well the solutions meet the requirements and much more.

That same data provided the opportunity to see how influencers (like consultants and systems integrators) and end-users compared when it comes to buying criteria. The study suggests that consultants pay significantly more attention to brand strength in recommending solutions than users do when selecting software. In addition, the consultants differed from end-users in their views as to which vendors were the market leaders in many categories. The results suggest that the consultants are more likely to stick to the top 4-6 vendors while the end users are likely to be a willing to entertain solutions from outside the top group, a result that should be encouraging to the smaller software vendors in the market.

ComTech Advisory is pleased to present the results of its 2014 vendor perception study.  This years’ study had the largest response rate of any survey we have done and we thank everyone who participated for their valuable feedback. Additionally, we want to thank our sponsors and advertisers whose support enables us to make this research available for free to the market.

This research effort was supported by platinum sponsors, Allegro Development and OpenLink and by gold sponsor JustCommodity. After completion of the research effort, ComTech spoke with senior executives of both platinum sponsoring companies to get their thoughts as to the results of the survey. Mr. Ray Hood, president and CEO of Allegro shares his views of the results of the study at http://youtu.be/FYmGqoMJk7k and Mr. Doug Wendler, MD of Americas Energy for OpenLink provides his thoughts at http://youtu.be/oFtUaY2yd_4

The full and complete report is now available as a free download at CTRMCenter.com and ComTechAdvisory.com.