I have been in the Enterprise software business for over 25 years and I was listening to a Stanford Thought Leadership podcast recently by Tien Tzuo, one of the pioneers of Salesforce.com. This got me to thinking about the change since the mid 1990’s and today and is Google now more relevant than Gartner for enterprise software. In the 1990’s there was a disconnect between product development and sales that fed into “the complexity machine”. There was a lack of product information and access to product. To discover a new product and work through the complexity machine to get “the new top ten” you went to Gartner. There was no other choice.
The world has changed. The Internet has made access to information and product ubiquitous. Think about Wikipedia and iTunes. Today, to discover a product you go to Google. To get information you rely on the wisdom of crowds not the high priests of complexity. People are turning away from “the complexity machine” and rewarding simplicity, value and transparency. Tools such as Google trends in real-time show market trends, masses of blogs offer information. Ranking and access allows good information to rise to the top. This is what has driven the success of Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica. This new world also offers transparency. Research should publically show the categories on how a product is ranked. The score and weightings should also be publicly available. This is the new world of transparency for banks governments and the Internet.
I would argue that Wikipedia beat Encyclopedia Britannica on price. But I think there is something to his larger point. A person's first inquiry begins with Google, so those first ten results shape the industry. Search engine visibility is vital. Just one more reason your employees should be encouraged to blog.