From the title itself, I am very sure you can guess what this would be about. It’s not really a rant because there’s not much to rant about, but it most definitely is my opinion. Should I add a disclaimer? Probably, not going to though. However, word of caution…. I don’t use any bad language and don’t berate them in any way. As I had said previously, this is purely my take on them.
Within the Technology (Hardware and Software) space early on, for me as early as the 90s, the whole concept of the movers and the shakers in the industry was rife. These guys were the hard hitters and you couldn’t look at anything technological without names like Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett Packard everywhere you looked. To me, and most probably to many other like me, these names got you hooked from the beginning. The true thing here is that these guys were only a part of a growing phenomenon. I didn’t see it back then at all, but what I thought I knew barely scratched the surface then, let alone now.
We’ve all seen those adverts where you have the guy clicking his fingers and saying everytime I click my fingers a young child dies in an impoverished nation. Nowadays, that is exactly what you see happening with Technology except with every click a new company is born, but likewise with another click another one dies out. Images like these are far too common:
So when you keep this into account, how can one person keep track? Honestly… you can’t. You can try but it’ll simply manifest itself as some sort of mental state akin to development hell (which I am sure many of us have experienced). And here folks is when I get to the grindy bit. Here is where the Market Research companies come in.
Grab a bunch of researchers, lock them in a room with a subject, a lifetime supply of Mountain Dew and high-speed internet access and then this is what you get…. cmon seriously? You thought what they do is that easy? Pfft…
I am the first to admit that they have one hell of a job. being able to research a technological movement, ever-changing and akin to that of counting the ebbs and bubbles from a live waterfall is no easy feat. Hundreds of researchers collecting and parsing all that data is definitely more than a challenge and not for the faint of heart. My issue will never be around the brilliant reports they produce. But it will always be about the commercialisation of “the Perception of Success”.
I’ll let that sink in a bit… all good? Ok i’ll continue…
As a consultant, especially when recommending Software some of the questions I often get asked are; “Is it in this Magic Quadrant or that one? What is it’s standing? What did the report say?”. Interestingly enough though, the software I work with has subscribed to it. So this is an easy answer, but in the back of my mind, I know if I couldn’t answer the question, regardless of how much better the software is against what has been highlighted by these market research companies, the software company really wouldn’t be given the light of day.
The question that I always poise myself is, “How many startups can afford a subscription to these Market Research companies?” We all know the stories of the unicorns prancing around in a world of VC daisies, paved by sweat, blood and tears from trying to keep up with the ROI schedules…. fact is, unless you have access to deep pockets you won’t be able to afford the luxury of forking out money better spent on your thinned out development team to these companies.
Within the Gaming world, especially on Mobile, we come across the all too often “Freemium” model. The one subscribers tend to complain about in reviews stating “This is most definitely a Pay-to-Play game, don’t bother.”
Why do I mention this? Simple! Success has become a “Pay-to-Play” option within this game of life. Having to pay to have people believe your software is good is an unfortunate side effect of these Market Research Companies. How many of these “Software Comparison” visualisations and market reports actually go on about the rise in startups and innovation as opposed to the “innovators” which are willing to pay out only are.
The reality is, I don’t really have an answer, but it’s enough to get the debate started. I could really continue writing these things which really make me think about the landscape Entrepreneurs find themselves in. This “Pay-to-Play” mindset only helps to stifle innovation in my view. Again I repeat, it is in my view, not anyone elses. Market Research companies have most definitely become the “Movers and Shakers” of the technology space….. what do you guys think?