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!)