Analysts and Quadrants and Waves, Oh My !

Lions and Tigers and Bears

Over the years I have interacted with a variety of analysts at various technology companies that I have worked with and worked for. Invariably each technology company is jockeying to get an engagement with an analyst to appear ‘well placed’ in some ‘quadrant’ or ‘wave’.

Now, that is all well and good, but what many people do not know is that vendors may also pay for analyst services. These services can include various things depending on the analyst but there is a school of thought that purveying of these services, and working closely with an analyst, can result in a better visibility, and ultimately better placement within some form of published ranking or report.

This may or may not be the case but this type of ‘double dip’ seems wrong ie. Charge the vendors for working with them on their product and proposition and also charge subscriptions to companies to be then given recommendations about such products.

Recently Gartner released a new Magic Quadrant report on EFSS. In that report it was  predicted the death of EFSS with the whole space becoming commoditised and the larger well-funded essentially mopping up.

Well I have been around long enough not to read into much into those reports  (remember ETA – Enterprise Transaction Automation ? No ? Exactly….) but many companies put a lot of store in those reports and if you are not on the report you may not get invited to the party.

I see EFSS morphing into something much more than the sum of its parts with there being a general consolidation between Share and Sync, Enterprise Content Management, Enterprise File Gateways, and Document Workflow companies. Companies in this new world will have products that are much more of a ‘fabric’ that cover key elements of enterprise companies. After all, files are at the centre of any company be it accessing them from corporate identity management, securely sharing them, tracking them, making them compliant, searching across them, setting policies on them, creating sophisticated workflow with them etc. This is what Storage Made Easy does…in addition to many other things such as being a facilitator for infrastructure modernisation of legacy storage assets to new storage models such as Object Storage.

As a company would I like to have seen SME in the Gartner report ? Sure, I think we deserved to be mentioned there given our customer portfolio and who we are replacing in accounts (and I recognise a lot of other companies likely feel the same way). Am I worried about not being in the Gartner report? Not worried, I’m a realist. I know that as a startup, primarily bootstrapped, running a real PnL business model means we can’t compete on analyst spend with‎ businesses who are VC backed and who are prepared to spend investor cash to facilitate visibility in the ‘Quadrant’.

‎Does that make them better companies with better products? Of course not. It makes them better funded. Has it affected our business? No, we grew 100% year on year again in our last audited trading year.

We know who we see in sales cycles. We know who we displace and all I can say is that there are large elements of that quadrant that are not indicative of that and I can’t believe what and who we see is so out of whack.

I’m also not so sure that, as per Gartner, the larger well funded companies have this space sewn up. Sure, in terms of investor cash, but in revenue terms? Our revenue now is in the low end millions and some of the hugely funded companies are allegedly somewhere between $40-$50 million which is roughly 8-10 times bigger than we are currently, but we are profitable, sustainable, and still growing at 100%, and we have not raised $50-100 million to get there, and we are displacing incumbents from that magic quadrant in some really big stellar companies.

It is also not just us, where we lose deals, I know who it is to, and in a lot of cases they are not names in that magic quadrant. Don’t get me wrong there are also names on that magic quadrant we never compete with because the self-hosted hybrid model and what we offer in terms of our USP’s differ enough that we do not compete.

From the very beginning Storage made Easy never was just Sync and Share. We see files and digital assets are the central point of a business and are solving business problems outside of just pure play file share and sync.

For example in our case, we are federating identity with Active Directory, LDAP, and SAML for Single Sign On, we are providing intelligence and control policy points for dispersed corporate digital assets, we are providing content search of those assets (even more important / needed since Google announced it was retiring its on-premises search appliance), we are providing CIFS desktop access points for end user object/file storage access to take it out of just being a backup and archive use case, we are enabling non CMIS clouds to participate in CMIS document workflows etc, and we are doing this across 50+ on-premises / on-cloud data stores.

Other vendors we compete with also have their ‘uniques’ and focus that uses the files and digital assets to provides something more useful / needed than just  ‘share and sync’.

So is a Fabric the new share and sync ? No, it is something totally different. A Fabric overlays a number of different assets, be that data assets, or something like cloud infrastructure management. Key is that it is done in a neutral way and it adds value other than just the aggregation.

Consider this, when journalists create an article about a company that they have some form of association with, a reputable journalist with call this to the readers attention. Why don’t analyst firms do the same? If they publish a technology ranking shouldn’t they at least let the reader know how much the ranked / recommended companies have spent with them? Would it colour your opinion if ‘x’ is ranked the magic quadrant leader but spent ‘y’ with the company in question ? It seems an integrity pre-requisite to me.

Ultimately this is the way our world works. I understand that. Analysts can, in many ways, from a vendor point of view be viewed as a legitimate marketing and lead generation tool, and they should be. You use whatever you can to generate leads and sales for your business. If you are a company who are looking for a product though don’t limit yourself to what is on those reports. You will be missing a lot of innovation and potentially some unique differentiators for your company.

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