What do we want to do next? That was the question Matt Gorniak and Godard Abel pondered after their software startup, Big Machines, was sold in 2011 at a valuation of more than $100 million and later bought by Oracle.
“One of the things that really became evident quickly in our 10-year experience as a vendor is that when you are trying to differentiate software in the marketplace you’re engaging with traditional analysts like Gartner and Forrester,” said Gorniak. “That model is very much based like it’s still the 1980s.”
Magic Quadrant Disruption
They soon developed the crowdsourcing, user-review-based enterprise software review website, G2 Crowd, aiming to provide “neutral, democratic, unbiased, trusted” reviews. It launched publicly about a year ago.
It now includes 14,000 users who have combined for about 20,000 reviews in roughly 200 software categories, including more than 2,000 products. It averages about 50,000 visitors per month with a “nice balance” between IT, business professionals and executive leaders from small to medium sized businesses and enterprises, Gorniak said.
The goal? To disrupt the Gartner Magic Quadrant and any other existing business software review models.
Gorniak called industry reviews -- he specifically cited Gartner and Forrester -- untimely and reliant upon input from analysts who have “never used the software” and the vendors themselves who feed the analysts information.
“It’s a human being who’s never used the software before because they can’t,” Gorniak said. “It’s enterprise software. You can’t really buy these pieces of software, deploy them to 1,000 people, wait five years then write about it. It doesn’t work like that.”
CMSWire asked Gartner and Forrester about their review methods and whether they’ve heard of G2 Crowd.
Forrester declined commentary. The company has published a Wave research methodology.
Gartner spokesperson Andrew Spender told CMSWire he can’t talk about the value proposition of other organizations — and said Gartner is the “IT professional's best first source for addressing virtually any IT issue.”
Gartner employs, Spender added, more than 900 analysts in 26 countries who cover 1,200 topics across the IT landscape. Gartner analysts have an average of 12 years of experience in their respective field, he said.
“Our rigorous research process and research methodologies, including the Gartner Magic Quadrant, provide the foundation for unbiased, independent and actionable advice,” Spender said. “Gartner insights are drawn from a fact base of interactions with clients in more than 12,400 distinct organizations worldwide, 320,000 one-on-one client discussions and more than 12,000 vendor briefings each year.”
Spender also referred to Gartner’s research methodologies.
So what does G2 Crowd do?
Essentially, it offers a freemium model for those in the market for enterprise software. They have access to all software reviews.
Reviews are published after users are legitimized via their LinkedIn accounts. G2 Crowd filters out vendors and competitors from publishing reviews, though vendors can add their products to the site for the chance to be reviewed.
From the reviews, G2 Crowd also curates reports and rankings on software, such as its top 13 social media management products report based on 350 user reviews. It was released Feb. 27.
That’s how the company makes money: selling the data and reports. This particular one costs $599.
What Users Say
G2 Crowd conducts a question-and-answer sessions with users. It asks them what they like, dislike, the business problems the software solves and for which purposes it’s used in organizations.
As an example, on a review for social media management software vendor Buffer, Chandler T Wilson said, “It's dead simple. I recommend it to everyone I know who works in communications. As a company I'm rooting for them.”
Wilson added, “Sometimes it doesn't work with the keyboard strokes and or accounts get disconnected. I wish there we better analytics for the regular paid version, not just business.”
Anatomy of Reports
To generate its software rankings, G2 Crowd uses a software recommendation engine, factors in customer satisfaction reported by users and vendor scale determined from social and public data.
Satisfaction rankings are generated from user reviews composed of up to 44 questions, including ratings of features and functionality such as social campaigns, ads and analytics. Scale is calculated from vendor size, market share and social impact. Based on a combination of these scores, each product is named a Leader, High Performer, Contender or Niche.
“If I am making buying decisions, I want to know what my peers are doing,” said Gorniak, whose 12-employee company is based in Chicago.
G2 Crowd for CRM software has 1,500 reviews, for example, something that no one has, Gorniak said.
“This is unique to us,” he added. “People are becoming more educated before a vendor steps foot into their office. It accelerates the discussion.”