Many procurement teams use Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant,” and similar services, as heuristics for their decision making. Things like the “Magic Quadrant” are rankings conducted in several specific industries every couple of years, leveraging data analysis to provide a snapshot of a given market’s direction, maturity and participants.
For many corporate purchasing departments, the message is clear: Hire from the Magic Quadrants, ignore the rest.
On the surface, this makes sense, along the lines of the old saying “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” The reason behind this seems clear: Working with a small, upstart firm is a “gamble,” working with a larger, more established company is “safe.”
This spring I had been speaking with the head of compliance at one of the largest commodities traders in the world about helping his company take control of their communications. He was impressed by what he saw, and expressed that our capabilities were unparalleled in the marketplace.
Over the summer, against his recommendation, his IT team chose to go with another solution over ours, because that solution was:
- Made by a large company
- In the Magic Quadrant
While disappointed, the competing vendor was a company that I’ve looked up to for many years, and so there was a part of me that understood the decision. We agreed to keep in touch in case things should change.
Last week the compliance head and I caught up by phone as planned.
I asked, how's the integration coming along?
Not mincing words, he replied, to my surprise: “It's a total shit show."
The provider that went with didn’t do what they said they were going to do. Their salesman promised features that their implementation team could not or would not deliver, and ultimately because of how big the vendor was their process dictated that most of the implementation burden fall back on the client’s IT team, who wasn’t staffed to handle it, part of the reason they had gone to hire a vendor in the first place.
So, now, compliance is unhappy, IT is unhappy; the “safe” choice turned out to be not so safe!
Later on that day I was on a call with another potential client who said: "Well, we’ve chosen your solution but one of our concerns at present is that you’re are a smaller company, and that there's more risk to that than going with a larger firm, even though they don’t do what you do."
I proceeded to tell her about my earlier conversation, to make the point that their thinking was off the mark, that we were actually the “safer” bet. Why? Because when you go with Whistler you get all of our attention.
We are still small enough that we know all of our clients well, all of their teams well, and all of their issues well. Small enough that the CEO, head of product, and head of technology are discussing our clients’ specific issues in regular meetings.
If you do business with us, the CEO cares about your outcomes and understands your business. The entire product team knows you by name, even our investors know you, who you are, and what is important to you. This means that when we make promises, the entire company is making them, with tightly integrated knowledge about what we can and will commit to.
As human beings we all use heuristics to help us make quicker decisions, it is how we have biologically been able to make sense of the world. But in an enterprise technology environment, there is no need for heuristics; there is ample time to do the diligence and find the solution that will truly work the best for you.