A couple of months ago I got an alert that Russell Rothstein, the CEO of IT Central Station, had started to follow my personal Twitter feed. Not knowing either who he was or what IT Central Station represented, I checked out his profile and IT Central Station’s website. Intrigued, I reached out to him personally. That series of events led DCIG and IT Central Station to form a collaborative working relationship so that we may collectively help users make more informed technology buying decisions.
Do any of these statements sound familiar?
- All of the storage vendors sound the same.
- Your competitor claims to offer all of the same features you just mentioned.
- How do I know what you are selling is really special?
If you work for a storage vendor you hear these words every day from your prospects. If you are an IT professional researching storage solutions you have probably said them yourself. It’s no surprise – the storage market is a highly competitive market with dozens of vendors offering multiple solutions.
This difficulty stems from the inability of people to differentiate among the plethora of storage vendors and products available. Further, when they try to do their own research, they cannot put 100% trust in the white papers, presentations, and case studies they read because they are often prepared or sponsored by the storage vendor as they only highlight the benefits their technology offers while failing to mention the new challenges they create.
Using these resources they cannot fully document the benefits and risks associated with the acquisition of a technology nor they determine which vendors are best suited to their particular needs and use cases. What IT buyers really want is:
- An informed opinion from other real users (not just the “showcase customers”)
- Direct access to others who have already gone through the selection process
- An easy way to create a vendor short list
To address these challenges that every organization faces, DCIG and IT Central Station have partnered to offer the resources that companies need to make better buying decisions. To help users connect and share information, opinions and thoughts, there is a new B2B social networking site for tech professionals called IT Central Station that enables them to research and share information about storage and other IT products and services. Then to help users identify what products are available and what features are supported on each one, DCIG offers both its static and Interactive Buyer’s Guides (IBG) so organizations may quickly and objectively create a vendor short list.
The buying process for enterprise IT products has changed dramatically, with technology buyers doing much more research about products over the web, and creating a vendor short list, before they even start talking to vendors. According to Forrester Research tech buyers are using web and community resources to complete nearly 70% of their buying journey before they ever engage with a sales resource.
The most valuable online resource for technology buyers is to have access both to the experience and opinions of other real users in order and third party information to get relevant information about the products they need. Together this minimize the time they need to find the products they want and need and get access to other individuals who can help them make a better decisions on how best to proceed.
If you work for a storage vendor, you can either choose to be a part of this 70% of the buying journey, or risk getting left out of the party. Successful vendors recognize that user review sites can provide a trusted third-party source for customer testimonials and position themselves as top rated among their competition.
The easiest way to get more reviews is to invite happy customers to post their own anonymous reviews. This can be done by sending an email to your customers, including a link to the review site in your customer newsletter, or encouraging prospects to review your company and product as part of their evaluation process. Many of your customers will write reviews anyway, so you might as well invite them an increase your chances for a better review!
If you already a user of a storage solution, you can use a review site to speak out freely in a private and anonymous environment. You can evangelize products, provide suggestions for improvements, share war stories, or show your thought leadership, all while preserving your privacy since no personally identifiable information is made public.
If you work in IT and are evaluating storage solutions, the value of using DCIG’s resources coupled with a site that contains storage reviews is obvious. Together they provide an easy way to create vendor short lists that are complemented by informed, insightful opinions from other real users, and direct access to others who have already gone through the selection process.
If you are not already subscribing to DCIG’s IBG or a member of IT Central Station’s user community, you may register to access the DCIG IBG for free for 30 days by following this link and going to IT Central Station’s website to register to become a member.
IT Central Station’s CEO Russell Rothstein of contributed to this blog entry.