• United States

Digging deep for hidden value

Aug 19, 20034 mins
Data Center

* Mike hits the jackpot with Network World Fusion

Analysts can do number of things for their clients.  When we consult with IT shops we can provide value by helping senior managers improve their buying processes, or by increasing a company’s understanding of vendor offerings, or by helping IT departments formulate requests for proposals, bids, and such.

Our clients on the vendor side quite naturally get other services.  Sometimes we help a firm sharpen its understanding of its intended marketplace.  Other times we provide value by pointing out deficiencies in a vendor’s product.  Often we work to revamp a marketing message, or a sales model, or help companies form key partnerships. And every now and then, we play the role of bad guys.

It will come as no surprise to most of you that some of the biggest companies make some of the biggest mistakes (old-timers will remember IBM’s PC Junior from the 1980s, a dog of a product that had a near-unusable keyboard with “chicklet” keys – but I am sure you all have your favorites). 

Those of us who deal with senior management at the larger firms often find ourselves in the position of having to tell them what their own employees will not. After all, mid-managers at these firms have often learned the hard way that while telling management that it is “wrong, wrong, wrong” can be very ego-gratifying, however tactfully that may have been done it rarely turns out to be a career-enhancing move.

On the other hand, because clients typically see analysts as outsiders, we can get away with saying things that mid-level managers often know to be true but, for reasons of self-preservation, can’t state publicly. 

On this topic, one of my pet peeves has often been with companies that have a well-engineered product, but whose marketing program is so poor that it leaves a lot of good engineering effort to languish.  To me, companies with good solutions but who also take pride in being “the best kept secret in the marketplace” are almost as annoying as companies that are all marketing hype, but have no product underneath.

SO I look for hidden value.

Let me give you an example: consider the annoying case of… Network World Fusion.

A colleague pointed out that these guys (yes, these are the good folks who publish this newsletter) actually have a Web site called the “Storage Research Center” that aggregates lots of useful information on storage-related topics.  I, surely like most of you, had never heard of it until yesterday. 

I wonder how much of my own time might have been saved if I had known that vendor news, white papers, and such were all gathered together for me here.  Shame on them.  I will continue to use other sites of course, but this one will certainly be added to the mix (see ). [The Ed replies: Proof that little gems can be found if you look hard enough. We’ve been providing a link from each issue of this newsletter to the Storage Research Center for quite a while, albeit under the heading “Breaking storage news and analysis.” See the second link in the “Archive Links” section below, in today’s newsletter.]

You understand this was an easy target for me.  I’m sure you too however have some easily identified targets, or have ideas on which companies provide good value but just can’t seem to get around to telling the public about it. 

If you have an opinion on who might be a likely candidate for storage’s “Let’s-Hide-Our-Value-from-The-Public-So-No-One-Can-See-It Award,” or if you have uncovered a product that deserves better exposure than its own marketing team cares to give it, drop me a note explaining why you feel this way and I’ll try to learn more about them.

Who knows, maybe we can help them succeed despite themselves.