Status: Forrester Wave Report for Community Platforms, Analysis Process (Part 3/4)

Wave report to segment market leaders in a crowded industry
I’m over the hump of this laborious research project to determine which of the 90 community platform vendors are enterprise worthy for Fortune 5000 interactive marketers.

Enterprise brands seek ‘Community Solution Partner’
I firmly believe that technology is a commodity, that’s why there are 90 vendors in this crowded space. Brands have indicated that success is only 20% technology, and the majority is 80% is a combination of internal changes, services, and support.

One thing I heavily stressed in my research, isn’t a focus so much on the technology, but instead how the vendors could truly be ‘community solution partners’ to their clients. A true solution partner understands the business needs of their client, offers strategy, best practices, can assist with implementation, offers ongoing technical –but more importantly, community management, guidance, and recommendations.

The research methodology includes:
I’ve had to make sense of thousands of cells in multiple excel sheets, ensure each line is accurate and will enable our clients to make important decisions.

6-hour in person lab days with each of the 9 vendors
During the last few weeks, I spent 5-6 hours with each of the nine vendors, often in a windowless room where powerpoint, screenshots, and live testing of their software took place. Using Forrester’s 5 objectives of listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing, I’ve found some key patterns to the strengths of vendors.

Up to 27 customer interviews
Surprisingly, vendors don’t know their own customers that well, in more than one occasion, customers poorly rated the vendors that suggested they participate as this ideal customer reference. I also cross references with vendors to see how well they could anticipate what their customers said about them –in some cases, vendors were completely unaware of the challenges that clients were having –a very bad sign.

Reviewed data submitted by vendors
Earlier, we issued a survey to vendors in this space, over 50 of them responded, and submitted around 50 or so fields of data. I factored in a great deal of this to perform market sizing and to complete comparative analysis.

Frequent discussion with clients
Perhaps the most important piece of data input is the constant discussion with my clients on inquiry calls. I hear from them what they want (demand side) as well as their experience with vendors (feedback). It’s interesting to find out that many brands are not happy with their platform vendors, and the vendors often don’t even know it!

Next Steps: Final Analysis, Preparing for Publication
Expect to see the published report in the coming weeks. Right now, the spreadsheets are being reviewed by vendors in the fact checking process, and I’ve already started to see some patterns in the data that will help to determine positioning. Thanks for your patience, between client duties and travel, getting all the pieces together for success requires some patience to ensure it will be done correctly.

If you’re a client and need advice now, you can schedule an inquiry call with me and I’ll be happy to discuss with you my current findings. I’ve already made some recommendations to clients based upon their specific needs and objectives.

I hope you find this transparency in the research methodology helpful in understanding our goals to make sure our clients make the right decisions to be successful.

Read more about this Wave Research project:

Part 1: Starting the Wave
Part 2: Data Collection Process
Part 3: The Analysis Process
Part 4: Announcing the Wave, the final report