Last week was a busy week – we held our Q2 sales kickoff at our San Mateo offices – but the day before we were invited to participate on a panel at the Symantec Vision 2011 Conference held at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
The panel was titled “Competitive Testing Reports Got You Confused?” and it was set up to discuss the technologies and approaches that are best practices to gather competitive intelligence about products. Our panelist was Thomas Lai from our San Mateo office who has been working closely with Symantec on the deployment of FirstRain within SymBrain to provide competitive intelligence to the sales and distribution teams.
The panel tackled a range of best practices to evaluate and report on competing products. Consultants or analysts go through deep exercises to understand competing products – but any technique can be biased so the panel tackled how to be comprehensive enough to get a complete, unbiased picture.
One area that was a surprise to us is how vendors interact with the analysis on their products. For example, an analyst might review a product from McAfee using both engineering and qualitative techniques. They then send the report to McAfee to review, for a sanity check, to potentially correct – and yet many times the vendor (in this case McAfee) does not respond. What does this imply – that the results are reasonable? or not? You can imagine a healthy debate on a panel about the techniques to get to the report and then what the lack of response really means. (No disrespect to McAfee but in this context they are a primary competitor to Symantec).
The thread of the panel, in the end, was what types of techniques can be utilized so that test results and market results — when looked at together — make sense.
Our application is used to build competitive intelligence for the broad sales team (you can see a Symantec exec talk about this here), but also in this type of competitive analysis at the product level and Thomas was speaking about the best practices we see in our customers in this context.
The conference was a lot of fun for Thomas (and I gather not all of the fun was in the panel session – it was Vegas after all!)
I’ve mentioned before what an exciting time it is to be a part of FirstRain. We’re building momentum every day as our fantastic sales team helps more and more customers in Marketing and Sales roles use FirstRain to monitor and act on the critical events that impact their business, industry and competitors.
But for an increasing number of professionals, the real need is efficiently getting high-quality, Business Web content out to the rest of their organization. This was the challenge we helped solve with Mark Heindselman, Manager Knowledge Network & Info Services at Emerson Process Management. As Mark described,
“We were looking for a better solution to find business relevant content from the web and found FirstRain to be superior to others in this space at delivering highly relevant content. FirstRain allows us to automate the collection of business content and distribute it across the company. We can now put in our users email box or RSS reader the web based news they are looking for and no more. The FirstRain Support team has been very responsive to our requests in setting up and rolling out our service.”
It’s always gratifying when you hear how you’re helping real-world users solve real-world business challenges, and we look forward to solving those challenges for many more!