Everyone knows that consumers these days do not buy a product or service without first going online to consult with a myriad of objective sites (ok, there are attempts at manipulation but savvy consumers know that) and forums to obtain third-party reviews and recommendations. But what about companies trying to decide if a particular solution or service vendor is the right one for them?
A new online service called VendorStack seeks to fill in the gap for enterprises who have many of the same questions and concerns that consumers do about determining whether doing business with a particular entity is a good idea.
According to the website, VendorStack is a “free database of vendors reviewed by users like you.” In addition to allowing users to search for reviews on a particular vendor, company or category, VendorStack also uses robots and monkeys to make specific recommendations, though the jury is out whether the monkeys are being properly compensated.
While VendorStack is free, it does require users to create an account.
The End of Analyst Vendor Reviews
Some observers think VendorStack could spell the end of analyst vendor reviews published by large consulting firms such as Forrester and Gartner. ITredux blogger and UK business consultant Theo Priestly, who calls VendorStack “a strange cross between Gartner, Yelp and Quora,” says the service is offering “transparency in a market where there is very little unless you have a fat wallet.”
In addition, he says VendorStack intends to eventually offer its own analytics and reports and also allow vendors to set up their own profiles on the site.
The Next Step in Crowdsourcing?
As it currently stands, VendorStack, which just came out of private beta and is still accepting public feedback, basically serves as a Yelp/Quora/Angie’s List-type service for enterprise IT users. However, Priestly’s commentary on Vendorstack evolving to challenge the Gartners and Forresters of the world raises the specter of VendorStack becoming a provider of crowdsourced vendor analysis.
Crowdsourcing is the sourcing of projects to private individuals using the Internet. As reported by Priestly, VendorStack itself has used crowdsourcing services hub Mechanical Turk to “scrape vendor customer lists” to help gather vendor data. If review data that is largely generated by solution and service users becomes the source of analysis, VendorStack would become a pioneer in crowdsourced analysis.
Although the large consulting firms do survey end-users as part of their analysis process, it does not represent the same type of continual flow of raw, unfiltered data VendorStack would be using. The industry should watch VendorStack closely in the coming months to see just exactly how far the company plans to extend its model.